IFTA-nominated Limerick director has found her dream job

Laura O'Shea on location during the filming of Wednesday's Child.

THERE was much delight in Limerick when a local director was featured among the nominees for the Irish Film and Television Awards (IFTAs).

Janesboro’s Laura O’Shea was nominated in the Live-Action Short Film category for Wednesday’s Child, the story of a woman on her first day as a social care worker.

Speaking to the Limerick Post, Laura says she’s still reeling from the big award nod.

“I think I’m still digesting the news if I’m being honest. It was a very surreal moment. I’ve been making shorts for five years now and I’d see the short film nominations released by the IFTAs every year and be in awe of the filmmakers who had achieved such wonderful recognition.

“Short filmmaking is always such a labour of love for everyone involved and Wednesday’s Child was no different. The cast and crew went above and beyond and I’m so thrilled for everyone now that we can celebrate all that hard work in May.”

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Laura says that stories like Wednesday’s Child are the ones that mainly appeal to her creativity, looking for the “extraordinary in the ordinary”.

“I tend to be drawn to stories that look closely at human connection. I’m very interested in looking for the extraordinary in the ordinary. I like to write and direct scripts that have a strong sense of realism.

“Someone told me once after a festival screening that they felt like Wednesday’s Child had a very documentary-like feeling, and I took it as a massive compliment. I love making things that feel real and allow the audience to see parts of themselves on screen, regardless of the subject matter.”

Wednesday’s Child won the Oscar-qualifying Tiernan McBride Award for Best Short Drama at the 2022 Galway Film Fleadh, making Laura the first female director to earn that prize in over 20 years.

She also won the Discovery Award at the 2023 Dublin International Film Festival, a prize that celebrates new talent.

Starting off in the world of acting, Laura turned her hand to writing and directing following her graduation from Bow Street Academy of Screen Acting in 2015.

“We were taught the value of actors giving themselves the tools to be able to create and produce their own work. After graduating, I started writing and directing short films as a way for me to be seen as an actor, which then naturally led to a love of directing.

“It definitely feels like I have found the thing that makes me happy and creatively fulfilled and I’m so glad that I came to it from an acting background, as it gives me a short-hand when working with cast on set.”

Despite turning her hand to both disciplines, Laura said that it’s hard to pick a favourite as they both fulfil her creativity in different ways.

“I love both acting and directing. They scratch different types of the creative itch. I may never have come to directing if it wasn’t for acting, so I’m so grateful that I took the chance on it a few years ago and I still do some acting work from time to time.

“But with directing, I feel like I’ve found the job that I’ve been born to do, and that’s a wonderful feeling.”

Limerick holds a special place in Laura’s heart. She says that she always draws creativity from the city when she finds herself here, and that growing up in the city encouraged her to embrace her creative side.

“Growing up in Limerick, I had some wonderful years in my teens taking part in the music scene and gigging in venues like Bakers Place and Riddlers. The Cranberries and Dolores O’Riordan were a huge influence on me when I was younger, and still are today.

“It gives me a lot of joy to see creatives like Blindboy Boatclub and Emma Langford constantly champion Limerick and showcase it as a place that breeds all kinds of talent. Limerick is brimming with creativity and is firmly on the map now as a county that’s not only producing great filmmakers, but plenty of great crew too,” she said.

Laura says that while she has some projects coming up over the next few months, she is mainly focussed on taking each day as it comes and enjoying the process.

She is currently in development as a director on a feature-length documentary with SilverRock Studios and Pale Rebel Productions, with filming to take place in both Ireland and America over the summer.

The IFTAs will be announced on May 7 at the Royal Dublin Convention Centre.