2014, Film and Video Studies, BA
Paul O'Halloran graduated with a B.A. in Film and Video Studies in 2014. His senior thesis film Ard Laoch na hÉireann /Hero of Ireland (2014) played at film festivals internationally and is now available to stream on Amazon Prime. Paul currently lives in Los Angeles.
Could you tell us about your work after graduation?
After graduating from George Mason, I worked as a video editor in an Arlington boutique post-house. It was a really fantastic work environment and I got to work with some really cool clients like PBS, National Geographic, Discovery Channel and Smithsonian. I was able to hone my skills in creative editing for short form work such as trailers and promo spots for PBS and PBS KIDS using Premiere Pro, After Effects, and occasionally Final Cut. I also worked on longer form shows such as Shark Week episodes. On those projects I mostly worked as an online editor which was a lot more technical and involved mastering a final cut so that it met broadcast standard for airing on television. I also had some clients who were Mason alumni working in local production companies. It's a small world in the D.C. network!
You've just moved to LA. What do you hope to accomplish there?
I really loved my old job but I wanted to try work on more film related projects, so after working in Arlington for three years, I just moved out to Los Angeles a few weeks ago! It's incredibly exciting and inspirational seeing so many big studios out here. My dream is to work as an editor on movies as well as continue to make my own films. There is significant number of Mason alumni out here that I hope to reconnect with.
How did Film and Video Studies prepare you for work after graduation?
One of the really great things about FAVS was being given the tools to go and do things on my own. The FAVS office and the StarLab have awesome equipment that is available for students to rent free of charge; everything you need to make films of your own and experiment in finding your style and interests while you have the opportunity in college. But best of all, FAVS was very good at providing opportunities for real work to students who actively sought it. I worked on countless shoots and edits with Professor Ben Steger that gave me the critical work experience I needed for applying to jobs post-graduation.
What was your favorite film class at Mason?
There were tons of classes I really enjoyed but my overall favourite was probably our Senior Film class where we refined our screenplays in preparation for our big shoot. It was exciting because we were all so invested in our films and the vibe of the class was very relaxed as we were all outgoing students at that point. The free-form structure also allowed for lots of creativity with other students, so everyone was really enthused about everyone else's projects. It was cool because we all felt invested in each others' success.
Do you have a favorite war story from set?
There were so many war stories from my senior film The Hero of Ireland as the shoot was in Ireland but planned from the US, so coordination alone was a nightmare! But the most stressful was possibly the day in which we needed to film with all four kids in the scene. Each kid had a super-limited schedule so it led to a situation where there was literally one single day in which all kids' schedules crossed over. It was an outdoor scene so we got up really early for the shoot in anticipation that the unpredictable Irish weather would make the shoot run a lot longer than we anticipated. Sure enough, the patchy rain caused the shoot to span an entire day, but the real terror was that I hadn't anticipated was how cold it was outside that day. Unfortuantely some of the kids costumes involved wearing shorts! Also, the rain absolutely destroyed the fields we were shooting in and filled them with mud, so the poor lead actor had it the worst because the scene required that he fall down in the grass, so by the end of the day he was wet, muddy, and miserable!
Do you have an unforgettable film, lecture, or experience?
I'll always remember Cynthia Fuchs' class "Film and Video Forms" in my last year; I had gone in expecting a pretty standard film critique class but was not prepared for how in-depth and brutally difficult, but rewarding it was. Professor Fuchs really challenged me but was also very gracious in helping me where I struggled, and by the end, I really felt like I was a better filmmaker for it. Things I learned in her theory class ended up being things I incorporated into my own films!
I would also like to note that throughout my time at Mason, I found Professor Steger to be a great mentor and friend. He constantly pushed me to refine my ideas until they were airtight, and encouraged me both academically and professionally. He was literally the first person I met on my first day at Mason and was my number one cheerleader from beginning until end.
Could you highlight moment collaborating with another student filmmaker on a project?
I shared an animation class with a really talented student named Joe Paquette, where during our assignment screenings, I first noticed that Joe had some incredible skill and intuition for animation. At a Mason event I asked Joe if he would help me with some animation on my senior film and he was really cooperative and easy-going about it, so I was delighted. But better still, when it came to actually doing the job he took my rudimentary ideas to a whole new level and introduced visual elements to the scene that I never would have thought of alone. The collaboration was very satisfying and the end result was phenomenal. When the time came for Joe to make his own senior film, I was really delighted to be able to return the favour and get the old team back together again.
Please describe the life of a film project you made.
My senior film, The Hero of Ireland had an incredible lifespan that lasted about two years! The film was screened at 22 events across the United States, Ireland, Egypt and Italy. Of the festivals that were competitive, the film won four awards for Best Film and one for Best Actor. I was lucky to be able to attend all regional screenings including the Virginia Film Festival, TIVA, Rosebud, Washington West Film Festival, Global Film Festival and various Mason screenings, but I really would have loved to have been able to join all my cast and crew at the Dublin premiere. The Boston premiere also would have been fun as I received a ton of messages after that showing from Irish enthusiast and ex-pats who loved the concept and setting! The film is now on Amazon Prime and free to anyone who has a Prime subscription.