John Boorman Filmmaking Class

Filmmaking with John Boorman

In October 2018, the Irish Film School delivered its first filmmaking course in Dublin at The Lir Academy. The course took place over 5-days and was developed and led by award-winning screen writer and director John Boorman. The programme covered the essentials on how to bring a film from script to screen and John was supported in his delivery by guest speakers and instructors from within his network - Kieran Corrigan, Ronan O’Leary, Michael Dryhurst and Seamus Deasy.

John Boorman

Director John Boorman

John is best known for his feature films such as Point Blank, Deliverance, Excalibur, The General, The Tailor of Panama and Queen and Country.

John has directed 22 films and been the recipient of 5 Academy Award nominations, twice for Best Director (for Deliverance and Hope and Glory). He is also credited with creating the first Academy Award screeners to promote The Emerald Forest. John received the BAFTA Fellowship for lifetime achievement from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts.

John is a Director of Merlin Films, a leading independent Irish film production company. Merlin Films has been involved in the production of numerous major feature films for international markets since its inception.

At Merlin Films, John has worked with international talent for over two decades, including Samuel L Jackson, Pierce Brosnan, Kim Cattrall, Brendan Gleeson, Ewan McGregor, Richard E. Grant, Jamie Lee Curtis, John Hurt and Jon Voight.

John is a published author and has been a contributor and editor to numerous editions of Projections, a series of books published by Faber & Faber (UK) which presents filmmakers reflections on their craft.

Kieran Corrigan

Kieran Corrigan teaching the Business of Film during the Filmmaking Course

Kieran is director of Merlin Films, a leading independent Irish film production company. Kieran has collaborated with award-winning and world-famous film directors John Boorman and Roger Corman for over 25 years.

He has produced and arranged the financing for a significant number of international motion pictures, including The GeneralThe Tailor of Panama and Queen and Country. Most recently Kieran was Executive Producer on Supervized and We Have Always Lived in The Castle.

Ronan O’Leary

Ronan O'Leary on set during the Filmmaking Course

Ronan began his career as a producer-director for PBS in Los Angeles in 1984, making drama-documentaries on the philosophers Thoreau and Emerson, and profile-interviews with the filmmakers Oliver Stone and Sir David Puttnam.

Ronan has lectured at Britain’s National Film School, the London Film School, and was the first Irish filmmaker invited to lecture at the European Film School in Berlin.  He has also served on Film Festival juries in Berlin, Cork, Bosnia and Croatia.

Ronan’s credits as a second-unit director include “TARA ROAD” starring Andie McDowell, shooting in South Africa; “THE DAWNING” starring Anthony Hopkins; and “PLAYED” starring Val Kilmer and Gabriel Byrne, shot in Los Angeles and London.  He recently worked as Creative Consultant on John Boorman’s new film “QUEEN & COUNTRY” and was literary editor on John Boorman’s recent novel “CRIME OF PASSION”. He is currently filming a feature-length documentary on the life and work of artist Pauline Bewick, featuring Graham Norton.

Michael Dryhurst

Michael is an assistant director and producer, known for Never Say Never Again (1983), Superman (1978) and Hudson Hawk (1991). He worked with John Boorman on many of his films including The Emerald Forest.

Seamus Deasy

Seamus is a well-known cinematographer who has 58 credits to his name.  He has worked with John most recently on Queen and Country (2014).

Filmmaking Course Unwrapped

Day One

The day began with an intensive study in scriptwriting.  John, supported by Ronan, shared his insights with the students into what makes the "unturndownable" script and distributed a test scene that he had written, Game Over, for review and discussion. Students were asked to share details of projects that they had worked on or scripts that they had authored and these were discussed in class. John also covered the following topics in his screen writing class:

  • Genres
  • Structure
  • Final Draft software
  • Working independently
  • Working with a writer
  • How to attract a lead actor

At the end of the day students were invited to attend a welcome dinner at Pizza Stop, Chatham Lane in Dublin city centre.

Day Two

This day focused on pre-production and storyboarding of the test scene. Students were given a template by John and Ronan and asked to produce a storyboard for Game Over and a group discussion on the scene took place. 

Feedback and guidance was given by John on the storyboards and topics such as "how to film the art of the possible" and "how limitations force you into creative solutions" were covered by John in class.

Day Three

The day began with a session of the nuts and bolts of film and TV production by line producer Michael Dryhurst.  The schedule and top sheet of the budget for Queen and Country was distributed and discussed as a case study in class and Michael covered the following topics:

  • Schedule
  • Budget
  • Set design
  • Locations
  • Working with AD
  • Working with a Production Manager
  • Working with a Set Designer
  • Number of shooting days
  • Number of set ups per day
  • Relationship with DP
  • Directing actors

Clips from Queen and Country and The Making of Zardoz were shown and discussed by John, Michael and the students.


After class students attended the Irish Film School Networking Event in the foyer of The Lir Academy.  Canapes and prosecco, beer, wine and soft drinks were served and guests from within the film industry were invited to mingle with the students and instructors on the night. Ideas were pitched and contact details were exchanged during our networking event.

Day Four

The day opened with an overview of sources of funding and film financing by lawyer, chartered accountant and producer Kieran Corrigan.

Drawing on his long-term collaborations with director John Boorman and the ‘Pope of Pop Cinema’ Roger Corman, as well as his experience of working with top talent such as Brendan Gleeson, Kim Cattrall and Pierce Brosnan, Kieran gave tips on how secure funding and how a production can succeed with complex financing structures.

After the morning coffee break John joined the class and instructed his students on the theory behind the camera, movement, lighting, set ups, framing and how to break down a scene, in preparation for the after session on camera skills.

After lunch cinematographer Seamus Deasy gave our students a hands-on demonstration of three types of camera: film and digital cameras and super 16mm cameras. Students then had the opportunity to try different filmmaking techniques and the Arri Alexa camera system under Seamus’s guidance and instruction.

Day Five

On the final day ten actors from The Lir Academy were brought into the studio to demonstrate the casting process and the first pair were auditioned by John.  His students then took over and conducted the rest of the auditions. Two pairs of actors were selected during this process by majority vote and were invited to shoot the test scene, written by John, Game Over.

The test scene was then shot with John, Ronan and the assistance of a camera crew and a sound engineer.  Our students took it in turn to step in as director, under John’s guidance and instruction – directing the actors and DOP as well as taking control of the sound and lighting.

After a coffee break an experienced editor was on hand to demonstrate post production techniques and the editing process.  Two versions of Game Over were cut – John’s version and the student’s version and both can be viewed on our YouTube channel.

The final day ended with presentation of a copy of John’s “The Film Process” and certificates were formally awarded to the students by John, accompanied by a glass of fizz.

Filmmaking Student Alan Killoran receiving his certificate from John Boorman

Out of Class Networking

Our filmmaking student cohort mingled during the morning and afternoon coffee breaks in the foyer of The Lir Academy. Lunch was provided in KC Peaches nearby where an area of the restaurant was reserved for our students. Students availed of soup and sandwiches while chatting about their various projects and swapping information and tips.

Read our student testimonials to find out how they all got on.

Alumni Association

Upon completion of their course our students were invited to join our Alumni Association – an online forum where they continue to share stories and exchange information.  We post job opportunities and news and events here for our past students, along with exclusive news, events and discounts.

Book Now for 2019

  • Do you want to find out how to write a script that will attract a star and make it impossible for the studios to turn it down?
  • Do you want to discover how to present to the studio your script, your budget, your schedule and your storyboards?
  • Do you want to find out how to control the cast crew and make the endless decisions that will be required of you as a director?

Book now and learn the answers to the above from masters of their craft. Enrolments are now being accepted for John’s Filmmaking courses, to be held in Dublin and London in 2019.

Places are limited to a maximum of 12 students per course and so to reserve your space please book here today!


On Friday, 30th November, the Irish Film School gave a one-day course on the Business of Film in Dublin at The National College of Ireland. The course was led by Kieran Corrigan with guest speakers from Great Point Media, Nada Cirjanic and Matt Stevens.


Kieran Corrigan: Kieran is director of Merlin Films, a leading independent Irish film production company. Kieran has collaborated with award-winning and world-famous film directors John Boorman and Roger Corman for over 25 years. He has produced and arranged the financing for a significant number of international motion pictures, including The GeneralThe Tailor of Panama and Queen and Country. Most recently Kieran was Executive Producer on Supervized and We Have Always Lived in The Castle.


Nada Cirjanic: Nada is Head of Sales at Great Point Media, where she sells major territories and works with film producers to help package and finance projects for international sales. Nada previously held top sales positions at Independent Film Sales, Protagonist Pictures and Film4. Nada has worked on films including CalvarySightseers, Searching for Sugarman and ’71.


Matt Stevens: Matt is Commercial Director at Great Point Media, where he evaluates scripts and produces and finances television programmes and films. Matt’s credits include We Have Always Lived in The Castle, Supervized & more. Matt qualified as a chartered accountant at a Big Four accountancy firm and has spent time working in corporate finance and business valuations on a wide range of projects in M&A, financing, tax planning and litigation.  


What makes an attractive project?

The day began with lawyer, chartered accountant and producer Kieran Corrigan introducing the key concepts surrounding production and the personnel involved. Kieran also provided an overview of film financing, covering topics such as sources of funding, international co-productions, tax incentives and finance plans.


Drawing on his long-term collaborations with director John Boorman and the ‘Pope of Pop Cinema’ Roger Corman, as well as his experience of working with top talent such as Brendan Gleeson, Kim Cattrall and Pierce Brosnan, Kieran gave tips on how best to manage successful productions with complex financing structures.


When developing a project Kieran stressed the importance of focussing on two key issues:


  • What is attractive commercially?
  • What is attractive to national and regional funds?


Although it can be tempting to become fixated on the creative elements when developing a project, Kieran provided vital advice on ensuring that early agreements are watertight, examining intellectual ownership and that the chain of title of your project is well defined. He emphasised that this is usually the first thing that a financier will look for.

What does a sales agent do and what do they need from producers?

Later that day, Nada Cirjanic, Head of Sales at Great Point Media, explored the key issues around sales and distribution. This included breaking down sales estimates, exploring the sales agent and producer relationship and examining studios vs. indie box offices.

Of particular interest were Nada’s fascinating insights into what sells today in the indie/studio markets, how best to package your film and which festivals and markets filmmakers should be attending.

How to deliver the films you promise

Rounding up the day was Matt Steven’s session on his lessons and insights from film and television financing. Matt took the class through the finance plan process and gave advice on controlling production cash flows and stakeholder management. Practical case studies and tips for dealing with adversity helped to give the students the tools to best push their project forward.


Our student cohort mingled during the morning coffee and lunch breaks with their instructors in the on-site restaurant.  Students availed of a hot meal or sandwich while chatting about their various projects and swapping information and tips.

At the end of the day a certificate was presented to each student by Kieran and they were invited to have a glass of fizz to mark the moment with their instructors and the Irish Film School team.  Ideas were pitched and contact details were exchanged during our networking event.

 Read our student testimonials to find out how they got on.

Alumni Association 

Upon completion of their course our students are invited to join our Alumni Association – an  online forum where they can continue to share stories and exchange information.  We post job opportunities and news and events here for our past students, along with exclusive discounts.

Book Now for 2019

Do you know which festivals are better for commercial product and which suit auteurs? Where should you be heading if your film deals with social issues or is set against complex political backdrops? What’s the difference between a presale and a minimum guarantee?

Book now and learn the answers to the above, hear how the film and TV production landscape is changing and much more. Enrolments are now being accepted for our courses to be held in Dublin and London in 2019. Places are limited and to reserve your space please book here.


Web Summit 2018 was held in Lisbon and ran from November 5th to November 8th. Irish Film School travelled to Portugal for this event to find out what the emerging tech trends are for filmmakers and content creators.


It was busier than Grafton Street on Christmas Eve! More than 70,000 people attended the event this year and it was jammed with startups who were vying for the attention of the crowd and of the investors that go there each year to look for talent. We attended over 20 talks during this busy week and here is an overview of our highlights.

Main Themes


One of the main themes of the WS this year was regulation. The inventor of the World Wide Web, Sir Tim Berners-Lee spoke at Opening Night about how more than 50% of the world’s population in 2019 will, for the first time in history, be online.  With this event comes great responsibility on the shoulders of the tech community. Recent data protection scandals, cyber security issues, privacy infringements, fake news as well as falling stock prices and huge anti-trust fines have left the industry battered and bruised. Sir Tim’s report on the community was “Must Do Better” and he has created the hashtag #ForTheWeb to encourage a more responsible use of the Internet.


Another major WS 2018 theme was storytelling and on Opening Night director Darren Aronofsky of Protozoa Pictures spoke about the technology of storytelling.  He questioned whether technology has improved our storytelling ability or whether an over-reliance on tech and on the newest special effects has curbed our ability to truly connect with an audience.

Creativity Breeds Success

Olivier Robert-Murphy of Universal Music Studios gave an interesting talk on Tuesday morning which included insights into his role as a judge at Cannes Lions this year.  He maintained that the main elements of creativity centre around 3 things – storytelling, emotions and impact.  That is what he looks for in a Cannes Lions campaign.

He showed the Adidas ‘Original’ video campaign and used this as an example of using existing creativity and building on it to create new creativity. He believes that creativity needs to focus on creating engagement – likes, shares etc and not just reach.  He thinks that we need to stop thinking in terms of reach and awareness and focus more on genuine engagement.

Monetising Your Movie

We met and interviewed Olivier after his talk to ask him more about his experience at Cannes Lions and about his previous experience as VP of Marketing at Universal Pictures. We will be publishing his interview on the blog very shortly, where you can read about about his fascinating career and gain valuable insights into marketing and branding opportunities for filmmakers and content creators.

Creativity and the Secret of Success with Paid Social

On Tuesday afternoon we saw David Schneider and Joe Orton of That Lot discuss the importance of being strong creative even in the new landscape of paid social. They pointed out that organic reach for brands is only 1% on social and that brands must embrace paid social media, whilst not neglecting their owned and earned media. David and Joe talked about their reinvention from a social media agency to one that now focuses solely on paid social.  They emphasised the use of in-stream video (playing on Facebook with sound on) which has a 70% view through rate on average.

9 Tips On How To Create Effective Social Video

According to That Lot there are now 500 million people watching videos on the Internet daily and 40% of content on Instagram is now video content. They shared 9 tips on how to create effective social video:

  • Start with a strong opening – develop the hook
  • Get the branding in early
  • Design for sound off
  • Remember platform specificity, 60% of Instagram videos are watched with the sound ON.
  • Use formats that make your ad seem native
  • Design for vertical – 7 out of 10 campaigns perform better in vertical
  • Make sure to have momentum in the story
  • Create a video with ‘beats’ – on social these are like episodes or frames that move in rapid succession
  • Control how the audience sees your content. Is it straight away or do you hold something back to create the element of surprise?

Here are some really cool samples of good social video

Sharing The World’s Greatest Stories

On Wednesday Greg Peters, Chief Product Officer at Netflix gave an insightful keynote on how technology helps the community to share the world’s stories.

An AR/VR Renaissance: Human Storytelling

Penrose Studios is dedicated to its mission of defining the next generation of human storytelling and they brought us glimpses of new ways to experience our favourite worlds and characters in their talk given by Eugene Chung, on Thursday morning on Centre Stage.

Want To Know More?

You can watch all the speakers in action on Web Summit’s YouTube channel.

Black Friday Discounts - Up To 80% Off Fees!

Kieran Corrigan - lead instructor on the Business of Film Production course


We left the WS with plenty of new ideas for additional content and guest speakers for our filmmaking courses and are looking forward to sharing these with our students soon!

80% Discount

Our courses are open to and this month we are offering 80% of our NEW Business of Film Production course with online coupon code 80PERCENT at checkout.

20% Off All Courses

All of our other courses are also discounted by 20% with online coupon code 20PERCENT at checkout. Book your place today and prepare for the filmmaking world of tomorrow!


Come and join us in Dublin this year!

To mark the inauguration of the Irish Film School we are offering a limited number of scholarships to film students, film graduates, filmmakers, lecturers and academics.

Irish Film School is offering the opportunity to attend the Irish Film School for FREE this year. The Irish Film School will take place in the creative and cultural city of Dublin, Ireland over a two-week period this July and August.

Filmmaking Course

Study and work alongside one of the greatest filmmakers of all time, John Boorman.

Film and TV Production Course

Kickstart your career in production by studying and working with film and TV industry executives.

Visual FX

Do you want to step into the fascinating world of VFX? Take your first step with Oscar winning VFX industry leaders Double Negative.

Business of Film

Are you working in finance, accountancy, legal, insurance or marketing? Want to expand your services and add another skill to your CV? Get practical instruction in the business of film production from Kieran Corrigan and his team of film executives and professionals.

NOTE: There is a limited number of scholarships available.


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John Boorman’s series of thirteen books entitled Projections published by Faber & Faber takes the reader on a fascinating journey into the world of filmmaking. Projections is a forum for film-makers in which the practitioners of cinema write about their craft. The books are a perfect way to get an insight into John Boorman’s life story and an insight into the lives of many of the big names that he has worked with during his career, including Martin Scorsese, Robert de Niro, Nick Park, Clint Eastwood, Wong Kar-Wei, Tony Curtis, Janet Leigh, Ray Harryhausen, Paul Thomas Anderson, Jodie Foster, James Stewart and many others.  The series of books are a “must read” for any aspiring filmmaker or cinephile.

In Adventures of a Suburban Boy, John Boorman, hailed by the Observer as 'arguably Britain's greatest living director', offers an enthralling memoir of a creative life spent turning dreams into celluloid, and money into light.

One of cinema's authentic visionaries, Boorman nevertheless enjoyed an archetypal English suburban boyhood in the 1940s and 50s, attending Catholic school and finding his first employment in a dry-cleaner's. But his abiding passion was for film, and he got his first break during the 'gold rush' era of British television in the 1960s. After directing several innovative documentaries for the BBC, he graduated to motion pictures, first filming pop stars The Dave Clark Five for Catch Us If You Can, before venturing to Los Angeles to make his first Hollywood picture - and his first masterpiece - Point Blank. The film inaugurated Boorman's profound friendship with star Lee Marvin, which also led to a second professional collaboration on Hell in the Pacific.

What follows are accounts of Boorman's joys and agonies in the making of such extraordinary pictures as the terrifying backwoods adventure Deliverance, the fantastical epics Zardoz and Exorcist II: The Heretic, the glorious Arthurian legend Excalibur, his magnificent drama of imperilled Amazonian tribes, The Emerald Forest, and his semi-autobiographical, multi-Oscar-nominated Hope and Glory. Among the many friends and collaborators of whom Boorman offers vivid portraits are Lee Marvin, Sean Connery, Richard Burton, Marcello Mastroianni, Burt Reynolds, Jon Voight, Helen Mirren and Nicol Williamson.

The General is the story of Martin Cahill - a working-class Dubliner who was the mastermind behind a series of daring robberies that stunned Ireland in the 1980s. Despite being the country's most wanted man, he eluded capture - with great cheek - until he finally fell foul of the IRA. John Boorman's screenplay delves deep into the heart of Cahill and reveals a man who possessed a relish for defying the might of society, a rage at perceived injustice, a ferocious cunning, a sense of perpetual celebration, and a dark brutality - all the characteristics of a Celtic chieftain. This volume also contains an essay by John Boorman on the dramatic struggles involved in bringing Martin Cahill's life and times to the screen.

Give the gift of education with an Irish Film School gift voucher.

Solve the perennial problem of finding original presents by giving friends and family an experience based gift voucher. Perfect for all occasions, an IFS gift vouchers can be used to register on any film course, or be used to pay towards existing course fees.


You can give any amount that you like. Our gift vouchers can be redeemed for any of our courses. These courses provide participants with the training and skills to avail of employment opportunities in the film industry.

Why not surprise someone with this unique and imaginative gift?


Your gift voucher will be personalised and signed by the founders of IFS, John Boorman and Kieran Corrigan.

Choice of Presentation

You can print out the voucher at home, or let us send an e-voucher directly to the recipient’s inbox.

Gift Voucher Terms & Conditions:

  • IFS gift vouchers may be purchased for use as payment on any IFS course.
  • Existing students can use an IFS gift voucher to make payments for an existing course
  • Our vouchers are valid for 12 months from the date of issue
  • All other standard Terms & Conditions also apply.

3 Steps to Ordering a Gift Voucher:

1: Just enter the details of your voucher into the form below and click 'Submit'.
2: You will then receive an email directing you to the IFS payments area. Just enter the amount that you would like to gift and make payment using a credit or debit card.
3: You will receive a payment confirmation email from the IFS payments area. Your gift voucher is now confirmed!

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