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Scenes, screens and airwave dreams


WHAT KATIE DOES Katie Hughes is at her most comfortable behind a radio mic.

A student, a DJ and a waitress, multitasking Katie Hughes from Attymass is looking forward to the Mayo screening of her short film

Anton McNulty

When The Mayo News contacted Limerick Institute of Technology student, Katie Hughes to discuss her short film, ‘The Broken Man’, she was putting together the final edit before its Mayo premiere in The Station House Hotel in Ballina next week.
“Ya ‘The Broken Man’ … I am now a broken woman!” was her first line when The Mayo News spoke with her last week.
“Don’t let anyone cod you that making a short film is good fun, especially on no budget,” was the 22 year old’s candid assessment of her experience of making her first film.

Not glamorous
However, it quickly becomes clear that Katie’s quips are said in jest, and very much part of her bubbly personality.
She reveals that making the 22-minute film, which she created as part of her final-year project for the Creative Broadcast & Film Production course, was an enjoyable, if somewhat challenging, experience.
“It definitely was not glamorous. The filming side was definitely an experience. I would do it again, but I wouldn’t go as the leader. Crew-wise, I was the producer, assistant director, editor, sound engineer, sound editor and overall editor, as well as having to look after the paperwork and legal things. It was too stressful with the time.
“I wanted to go with a short film and do it professionally. Especially being in fourth year, you want something to show- case as your own and be proud of. There was a lot of hard work, but it was definitely worth it in the end … it has gone the way I wanted it to go.”
How Katie managed to find the time to do all this is anyone’s guess, considering she also presents her own radio show on CRC in Castlebar every Saturday morning and works part-time as a waitress in the Station House Hotel in Ballina.
“My weekend involves going home on a Thursday night, working Thursday and Friday, being on the radio Saturday morning, working again Saturday evening and Sunday, and back to Limerick again on Sunday night, with college Monday to Thursday,” she explained.
“My parents always used to say that I could never sit. I would rather be doing things, working or kept busy than sitting and reading books. I’m one of those kind of people who can’t sit and read and relax.”
Work on the script started last September. “I never wrote a script before in my life. I was winging it,” a refreshingly honest Katie recalls. But with the assistance of director Edel Burke, she was pointed in the right direction.

Frankly speaking
‘The Broken Man’ is based on the song of the same name by Donegal songwriter David Craig, which is about a family friend who died from excessive alcohol. The film focuses on an alcoholic father who has recently lost his wife and tries to hide his drinking from his sons. Not wanting to give too much away, Katie says it ends with a ‘cliffhanger’, with the audience made to make up their own minds.
The actors Eamonn Walkin, Tommy Forde and Patrick Peoples are all from Mayo, and Katie says she’s proud to hear Mayo accents throughout her work. The filming took place over two days in February in Jack’s Old Cottage in Islandeady, while other scenes were filmed in Bourke’s Bar in Foxford and in Turlough. “It was really cold the day we were shooting in Turlough – we had about 50 coats on while filming.”
There are plans to show the film at the Richard Harris International Film Festival in Limerick in October, and Katie hopes to show it in other festivals around Ireland too.
While she enjoyed making the film, it seems the pressurised experience has meant she has no plans in the immediate future to make another. “To be honest, in the beginning I thought this would be unreal … that I would love to do this. But now? No,” she said frankly.

Radio days
Katie first experienced the world of broadcasting and production when she spent some time at CRC as a TY student in St Mary’s Secondary School, Ballina.
“They took me for a week for work experience, and six years later they still cannot get rid of me,” she laughed. “I went in to get a feel of what this radio business is about because someone said to me, ‘You never shut up talking, go into radio’,” she laughed.
When she was still only 16, she produced a three-hour long chat show on the station on her own, then in 2012, she ended up presenting on 2FM after winning a national competition with RTÉ.
On Saturdays, she presents her own CRC show, Katie’s Hitmix, which won a national award in 2016 for promoting the best of the local music scene. Katie also presents a radio show on Wicked FM, the student radio station in Limerick – and just last week she was named Radio DJ of the Year in the 2018 Smedia Awards (the National Student Media Awards).
When asked about her future plans as a graduate, she jokes, “I would like to fill the seat of one of those DJs on Today FM; one is bound to be retiring soon. A prime-time slot would be great.”
She might be joking, but the big radio stations could do a lot worse than pay attention to someone with such a wealth of experience, and enthusiasm.

Hometown screening
Before she’s snapped up for the airwaves though, Katy has the hometown premiere of ‘The Broken Man’. She’s not too nervous though, as a screening in the Millenium Theatre in Limerick last week went well, and she was with the reaction.
“Five minutes before the film showed, I was like ‘No don’t show it!’. Once it was on, I won’t lie, I literally balled crying with the response. I never showcased my work in front of an audience before. I was blown away with the reaction from the audience.
“I’m looking forward to the one in Ballina now, because it will be in front of my family and friends, and I will be able to say, ‘Hey, I have actually done some work in college!’,” she said, adding a self-deprecating quip: “Just as long as their expectations aren’t too high.”

‘The Broken Man’ will be shown to the public in The Station House Hotel, Ballina, at 8.45pm on Saturday, April 28.