Interview for Underground Dare Short FIlm Festival, first published in The Evening Echo 2014-7-30

The UnderGround Dare Media Short Film Festival has grown in 4 years into an established name on the national film landscape. Darren O’Mahony, the Festival’s director, spoke with Ronan Leonard ahead of this year’s installment. Firstly he reflected upon their development, “the UnderGround Short Film Festival was set up in 2010. We started out with just 4 film screenings of shorts but the interest was so great that the following year we grew to a week long series of events and we’ve been growing ever since, so much so that this year we’ve had entries from 16 countries and will be screening 100 short films, and we’ve introduced showing feature length films and one other big plan…”

The festival had to reign in some of their plans in their earlier days but this year they are delighted to be able to achieve of their main goals, “the Drive-In Cinema is undoubtedly the event drawing the most interest! It was an idea we had way back in year one but only now have we been able to actually implement it! We have decided to show four classics movies, some which have inspired filmmakers for generations, ‘Jaws’ and ‘Alien’, and two of the most popular movies of all time ‘Back To The Future’ and ‘Dirty Dancing’. The special purpose-built Drive-In will be in the Munster Agricultural Society’s Showgrounds on Thursday 14 and Friday 15 August. The interest has been fantastic and it’s nearly sold out already!”

Other than the Hollywood classics, Darren also wants to bring attention to the lesser known films in the programme, “this years festival is our largest to date: we have categories for Drama, Comedy, Documentary/ Experimental, Sci-Fi/Horror, Local, National and International. We also are one of the only festivals in the country to have dedicated Spanish and Music Video categories. We also have free walk-in screenings of previous years work in the Cork Vision Centre throughout the week, also there will be a local talent showcase on Saturday 16th in the Gate Cinema focusing on the work of local filmmakers Sean Breathnach and Dan O’Connell.”

Film festivals aren’t just about sitting in dark cinemas though as there is also a social element, one that Darren is pleased about, “our sponsors Rising Sons Brewery are giving a free pint with every ticket sold so even when the screenings are finished, people can relax and think or talk about the movies they’ve just seen over a beer!”

Starting a film festival was never really Darren’s plan, “I’m from Tipperary originally, I did Media Production in Stillorgan in Dublin for a year, then moved to Cork in 2001 to attend St John’s Film and Video Production course for 3 years and Cork hasn’t been able to get rid of me since! After college I found opportunities hard to come by so I ended up working in retail for a few years but I took redundancy from my last “real” job and decided to give filming a real shot and I’ve at it ever since, along with running this festival.”

The weekend before their own festival starts Darren and his team will be screening a selection of films in Mitchelstown at the IndiePendence festival, he explained how it is a great opportunity to gain new films fans, “the guys over at Indiependence asked us to screening some short films at the festival last year, we found that the festival goers who stopped by the tent were really impressed by the quality of the films on show and many came back on the second day to see more. Having movies at what’s considered predominantly to be a music festival really works and people find it quite refreshing.”

As with many arts organisations funds are very tight, “it is entirely run by volunteers on a tiny budget. We get next to no funding, with the exception of our sponsors Rising Sons Brewery. We are on Indiegogo where we are hoping to raise €1500 to help us continue the festival, if people want to contribute they can find the details through our website.”

Despite the goal of raising money FOR the UnderGround Short Film Festival, they have decided to use the opportunity to raise funds for charity as well, “despite us all being unpaid we all know there are more important things in life. Many people are far worse off in life than us so I think where we can, we need to give back, so we give a proportion of our ticket sales to the ISPCC, they are a a great charity and I’m delighted to help them where we can.”

The UnderGround Dare Media Short Film Festival will run Sunday 10 to Sunday 17 August.
For further screening details and ticket information go to

To get involved as a volunteer email


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