By Conor Burns
With 250,000 Youtube hits, an exciting superhero trilogy and devoted late-night film shoots, Ciaran Duffy (18) and Dhamodar Smith (19) are a pair whose story who deserves to be told.
The North West is a place where young people strive to get noticed and respected for their talents, whether it is in art or film. As we walk around the streets, we see young Tarantino’s running wild with their cameras, trying to discover that talented person inside. When admiring their enthusiasm and passion, we ask ourselves, who is the next Steven Spielberg?
The answer lies in the small town of Strabane as two budding filmmakers have taken their young film-making careers by storm. Ciaran and Dhamodar may be the ‘creative duo’ who will usurp Spielberg’s in the director’s chair.
From a young age, Ciaran and Dhamodar sat in awe as their favourite films inspired them. As their burning passion grew, they got out of their chair, picked up a camera and amazed their small world with influential skills.
Since they first hit record many years ago, they are now well-known and respected around Strabane as the many few who stood up and showcased their talents. With fast-growing, mind-blowing hits on their Youtube account, Ciaran and Dhamodar have their own well-deserved fan base which continues to rapidly grow with each film they make.
September 23 became an important date in Ciaran and Dhamodar’s calendar as Culture Night called their names. Culture Night celebrated the skills of the Strabane community and it's only right that their achievements were included. The Alley Theatre showcased their new film, ‘Fantastico’ which in many people’s minds taught Kick-Ass the proper way to portray young superheroes.
The screening expressed their maturity in film-making and impressed the large crowd who celebrated their success. With a growing filmography and creative desires, it won't be long before Hollywood calls their name. To celebrate their ongoing film-making success, we caught up with them to learn about their journey.
Ciaran said: ‘We started in 2006. We had to complete a class project and instead of drawing pictures like everyone else, we made a video for fun. It was very fun for our first project and we soon uploaded it onto Bebo. We didn’t worry about whether or not people would be interested. We just had good fun and didn’t worry about getting noticed.
‘We really got interested when we found out about a Bedroom Television channel which lets you upload your videos. After making two more videos, we uploaded them onto Youtube which surprisingly garnered a lot of positive attention.’
The film-making master-minds went onto talk about their first successful movie which cemented their popularity among their local community.
Dhamodar said: ‘We made a parody video to the theme Big Girls. People didn’t take us seriously so we made our first Fantastico movie. It was a brilliant experience because it was our first time experimenting with special effects. Everyone on Youtube loved it so we made a sequel which was chosen to be screened at the Fresh Film Festival in Dublin.
To our surprise, it made it through to the final in Waterford and won the audience award. We found out the audience’s votes where one-sided which further developed our confidence. The audience reaction motivated us to keep going and it was overwhelming to see your work on the big screen.’
A large world of opportunities continued to grow in 2009 when they had the chance to record a video which promoted Mika’s new song. As a bonus, they met the ‘Origin of Love’ star. In addition to discussing their thirst for movie-making, they discuss their influences.
Ciaran said: ‘I mean you would expect these other people to list famous film-makers. But our inspiration comes from watching people online as we feel we can learn more from them. After watching Fantastico, people think we loved Scott Pilgrim because of the plot but we hadn’t even seen the film. It was crazy.’
The two talents go on to discuss the great experience of making their third Fantastico movie which recently stole the show in Strabane at Culture Night.
Dhamodar said: ‘We spent our free time in the summer trying to make this film stand out. We wanted to make it really stand out from anything else we made. When it came to adding special effects and re-shooting, we found ourselves beginning at 7pm and not finishing until 5am.
‘No matter how obstacles were set in front of us, Culture Night was our goal and was like the academy awards to us. The reception we received was incredible. As the credits rolled and the audience applauded, we realised culture night brought our journey full circle.’
Their story doesn’t say ‘the end’ yet as they’re looking forward to future projects.
‘For our next project, we’d love to make a music video. It would be a new challenge and creating graphics would be a cool new skill to learn. If anyone wants a music video recorded, you can check us out at HYPERLINK "http://www.youtube.com/nameuseriswhat" www.youtube.com/nameuseriswhat. Who knows? You may not have seen the last of Fantastico either.’
Ciaran is working through a Viz Com course in Belfast which lets you experiment with all forms of media while Dhamodar is studying Mechanical Engineering at Queens University. In concluding the interview, the two commented on their future in film-making.
‘If there’s an idea for us to work with, we’d love to keep it going. I mean in ten years from now we hope to work with the BBC as it’s one of our ambitions. God knows what you’ll see us doing. You could see us working on Top Gear yet.’
Ciaran and Dhamodar are promised a bright future and are destined to take the creative world by storm. Next stop, Hollywood.