Brief Encounters of the Sporting Mind
(2007) 14 x 3-8 minutes
A unique series dedicated to those with a sporting bent, Brief Encounters is a selection of fourteen short documentaries on people in the sporting world from the athletes; amateur and professionals, the organisers at the venues and events and the artisans who make the equipment. These vignettes are driven by the human story, the passion and dedication that individuals have for their sport.
The narrative of each film ranges from classical documentary to more quirky dramatic forms. The unique sports’ related items featured are:
1. Fly Fishing: 7 min 44 seconds
Jackie Coyne reckons he can catch fish in his sleep. He learned how to cast a rod from the roof of an old shed for two years when he was three. Branches were his prey. He disguises all his own fishhooks. He is both a champion fly fisherman and a member of the Culfin Anglers. Jackie is a writer, singer and carpenter and says there is nothing wrong with wild men chasing wild fish.
2. Ultra Running: 3 mins 8 seconds
In April 2001 Richard Donovan was an unfit man in his 30’s. Tragedy hit his family and he decided to do something extraordinary. Wanting to challenge himself, Richard took up Ultra Running, an extreme sport where competitors run long distances at both extreme temperatures and altitudes. Ultra Running marathons can be up to 100 km in distance. Richard is the first person on earth to complete a marathon in the South and North Poles. We find out what it takes to complete one of these Ultra Marathons.
3. Horse Shoe Pitching: 6 min 56 sec
From the age of 12 all Brendan Earley could see were horseshoes. He has won the All Ireland Horseshoe Competition 27 times and is a ten time World Champion. Brendan is dedicated to his sport and spends four hours every day training. He explains the history of the sport and how it evolved over the years.
4. Making Hurleys & Sliothars: 5 min 21sec
We follow Aidan Falconer as he chooses the best ash tree that he knows with his vast experience will make the perfect hurling stick to grace an All Ireland Final. He needs to find an ash tree with no knots disturbing the grain so that there will be no weak points in the hurley when he is finished crafting it.
Meanwhile Liam Dargan is painstakingly sewing the leather coat on to the sliothar (the ball used in hurling) that will be smashed into the net by the eventual All Ireland Champions.
5. Ultimate Frisbee: 3 min and 03 sec.
Is Ultimate Frisbee a team sport? That may seem a strange question but it is true nonetheless. Dubliner Mark Early is an active member of Frisbee Ireland and regularly organises Frisbee games. He has already represented Ireland in this new field game which he wants to see become an Olympic sport. He explains the rules and history of the sport and takes us along to see a game.
6. Harness Racing: 5 min and 24 sec
There are more competitors in Harness Racing worldwide than in thoroughbred horse racing. This sport is very popular in the south of Ireland. It is professional in France, Canada and the U.S. Brothers Tadhg and Donal Murphy are among Ireland’s best proponents of this art and regularly compete at events around the country. We find out what it takes to be a good Harness Racer and how training a pair of horses to trot in unison is very difficult, as the cart won’t allow the horses to gallop.
7. Body Building: 5 min 41 sec
Blue has been bodybuilding since he was 19. He has won Mr. Ireland eleven times and will captain the Irish team at this years Mr. Universe competition. He claims Bodybuilding is a pioneering sport and an art form. He depends on his wife’s understanding and support to keep him in peak shape.
8. Kick Boxing: 7 min 50 sec
Christina McMahon’s mother wanted her to be a ballerina. Instead she chose to take up kickboxing like her siblings. She started the sport aged 19 and in a short while started competing nationally. She was subsequently selected for Ireland in the world games, and she now trains daily in her hometown of Carrickmacross, Co. Monaghan. She juggles her hectic training schedule with running her own business, Phoenix Regional Sports.
9. Golf: 3 mins 41 sec
We get a snapshot into the lives of teenage golf prodigies Lisa and Leona Maguire from Cavan. Just three years ago the twins started playing golf with their father. Now they are the best female golfers of their age in the world. They now try to balance being normal teenagers with maintaining their dedication to the sport they love.
10. Seine Boats: 5 min 32 sec
Racing Seine Boats is an ancient Irish sport. Dermot Walsh explains just how tough this sport is. There are no hiding places on a Seine Boat and according to Dermot the oar doesn’t go away from you like a ball in football. The rowers get no rest during a race and must give their all if they are to win.
11. Rally Driving: 6 min.
18-year-old Toni Kelly from Donegal in the North-West of Ireland is blazing a trail on the rally circuits of Ireland. She dreams of competing against and beating the best in the business. How did an 18-year-old young woman get involved in a sport dominated by men? We visit her and check out her amazing ability behind the wheel of her rally car.
12. Gymnastics: 3 min 25 sec
Gymnastics is the hardest sport there is according to Shannon Garrett, Niamh Clohessy and Aisling Barrett from Ballina, Co. Mayo who are members of the Irish Gymnastics Team. It is a sport that requires strength, stamina, agility and perseverance. Such is their dedication that they train for 18 hours every week.
13. Sheepdog: 4 min 59 sec
Con McGarry is a sheep farmer in Roscommon in the midlands of Ireland. Con has been breeding and training sheepdogs for 15 years with great success. He is an expert breeder and has sold dogs that have gone on to win sheepdog trials in the UK, the US and Belgium. We spend some time with Con as he trains his latest batch of dogs destined to compete in sheepdog trials.
14. Three Day Eventing: 4 min 15 sec.
Lt. Geoff Curran joined the Irish Army to follow his dream of show jumping and competing in Three Day Eventing. After training as an Army Officer, Geoff competed and was a member of the silver medal winning team from the Irish Army, that competed at the World Military Games in 2002. Geoff has qualified for the Olympics along with one of his horses. He hopes to qualify with another horse before the deadline for Beijing. Failing that he has high hopes of a medal at the 2012 Games.
These sports shorts are shot in such a kinetic way that the viewers feel that they are right bang in the middle of the action. This makes these brief encounters an experience worth savouring.
SCIENCE SCAMS – (2007) 5 x 10 minutes approx.
This creative documentary series combines drama reconstruction and animation to reveal some of the greatest but lesser known scientific frauds from history. These 5 distinct mini documentaries brilliantly recreate the wonder and amaxement that the “inventions” or “discoveries” of these real life fraudsters perpetrated on an unsuspecting public
Episode One: Beringer’s Lying Stones (9 minutes)
In 1725, amateur palaeontologist Dr. Johann Beringer believed he had found conclusive proof of divine creation by revealing how fossils were formed. Beringer had amassed a collection of more than 2,000 fossils, each sculpted with amazing icons depicting birds with clutches of eggs, mating frogs, tiny mermaids, moons, stars and even the „Signature of God‟ in Latin and Hebrew characters. Beringer published a book announcing his discovery to the world but was belief misplaced?
Episode Two: Meinertzhagen: Undercover Ornithologist (10.⅔ minutes)
Chronicling the extraordinary life of a British WW1 spy, whose prolific and decorated military career included meeting Hitler and sharing a room with Lawrence of Arabia, surprisingly, it was Meinertzhagen‟s ambition to become an ornithologist that would make his name. Indeed, by the time of his death, Meinertzhagen had gifted over 20,000 bird specimens to British museums, in a collection widely regarded as one of the most significant of the 20th century. But a recent report tells a very different story of the illustrious career of this extraordinary man…
Episode Three: Elizalde’s Lost Eden (10 minutes)
The extraordinary story of a stone-age tribe discovered deep in the Philippine jungle in the 1970s. The Tasaday Tribes spoke in an unknown dialect, lived in caves, wore leaves as clothes and used primitive tools. They were hailed as a link to a vanished Eden, made international news headlines and were the topic of a best-selling book. But, more than 15 years after their discovery, the Tasaday reserve was infiltrated by a Swiss journalist who discovered all was not as it seemed…
Episode Four: Kempelen’s Chess Playing Automaton (10.9 minutes)
The enchanting story of a mysterious technological marvel of the 19th century which, it was claimed, was capable of thought and reason. Indeed, The Turk, as the machine would come to be known, travelled throughout the world bewildering and defeating famous opponents from Benjamin Franklin to Napoleon Bonaparte. Sceptics tried and failed to explain how the machine worked, with The Turk’s illustrious career continuing for nearly 100 years until its secret was betrayed…
Episode Five: Redheffer’s Perpetual Motion Machine (10 minutes)
At the dawn of the industrial revolution, inventor Charles Redheffer unveiled the holy grail of engineering: a machine which required no fuel to sustain movement. Every inventor‟s fantasy, such a machine would not only revolutionise industry, but would make its inventor exceedingly wealthy. Redheffer unveiled his marvellous creation to the public in New York and Philadelphia, but was his invention all that it seemed?
As you can imagine, some of these deceptions now seem so outrageous that today it is hard to believe that anyone could have been fooled by them. However, even allowing for the fact that they were living in a more innocent, internet-free era, con artists have always depended on human curiosity and gullibility in order to perpetrate the Big Lie. Science Scams are simply five of the best such deceptions that will fascinate viewers everywhere.
THE HOLOCAUST TOURIST
Whatever Happened to Never Again?
(2005) 10 minutes
Glasgow filmmaker, Jes Benstock, takes a wry, quizzical look at one of the unexpected spin offs from the Second World War’s more infamous chapters.
Using a surprising mix of animation and live action to consider the contemporary legacy of the Holocaust in Poland, he takes the viewer on a whistle-stop tour from Auschwitz hot-dogs to Krakow’s kitsch Judaica that asks; “How is dark tourism changing history?”