18 April 2024 The Irish Film & Television Network

Irish Film and Television Network


Education / Training


Making the Cut

Making the Cut– Karen Gorman of Karen Gorman Casting
20 Oct 2015 :
Karen Gorman set up her own Academy of Speech and Drama 10 years ago
As part of our Making the Cut series, IFTN has been profiling successful graduates of some of the film courses offered around Ireland.

As director of Karen Gorman Casting and Karen Gorman Speech and Drama, Karen talks to IFTN about her own college experience as well as what is currently offered to students on her own courses.

IFTN: How did your course prepare you for your current career?

KAREN GORMAN: ‘I completed an Arts Degree and a H.Dip in Learning Support from NUIG. After this, I studied for my Diploma with the Irish Board of Speech and Drama. Combined with my degree in English, this Diploma prepared me very well for my current job as Director of my Academy. I have found that constantly educating myself through short courses and informal education is invaluable. Building up contacts in the industry took some time but has proven to be vital.’

Were you offered practical experience/work placement as part of your course? If so, how did it benefit you?

‘Unfortunately my degree had no work placement element.’

How did you make the transition from education to paid employment?

‘A week after finishing my degree, I got a job with a magazine based in Baggot Street, Dublin. Initially my job was in advertising sales but within two weeks I was promoted to Restaurant Reviews and PR. This job proved to be invaluable to me every day since I set up my own business 10 years ago. I made great contacts within the media and gained a huge amount of informal education. The highlight for me at this tender age was lunch with Bono's brother, Norman Hewson in his restaurant Tosca! It proved to be the start of gaining quality contacts within the business.’

‘After some time I moved home to Letterkenny and got a teaching job teaching students to higher level Leaving Certificate level. After Directing and Producing a number of productions in An Grianan Theatre, Letterkenny, I set up my own Academy of Speech and Drama 10 years ago. A few years ago I was appointed as an Examiner with the Irish Board of Speech and Drama, a position which I am very proud of. The Irish Board of Speech and Drama is a delight to work with. Also, we were appointed as a private International Examination Centre with LAMDA (London Academy of Speech and Drama) five years ago.’

‘In February, myself and my husband Garry launched Karen Gorman Casting as there were no such opportunities in the North West. We envisaged that we would represent talent based in the North-West, however we represent clients from throughout Ireland as well as internationally based clients.’

What areas in training for film/TV production do you feel are lacking overall in Ireland? How can improvements be made?

‘As basic as it may sound, good quality training in a variety of accents would be very beneficial. My clients who are skilled in this area often experience more success. Soft skills for Camera is also vital. I think that quality work experience outside of Ireland would open a lot more doors.’

What are you currently working on and what plans do you have for the future?

‘Students have just completed courses in Acting Performance. They are continuing their studies for further exams in May. Also, we have another Acting for Camera Course in the pipeline with a very well-known TV personality coming to Letterkenny to assist in the delivery. Negotiations are still under way so I can't reveal who it is at the moment! I feel passionate about bringing opportunities to the people of the North West that otherwise might not exist.’

Have you any further advice for anyone wishing to get into acting in Ireland?

‘Firstly, you have made a fantastic decision to do so! Keep on knocking on doors and you will experience success. Constantly upskilling yourself is vital, as is a broad array of experience in the different genres of acting and performance. Stay up to date with developments nationally. Finally, be nice, warm and friendly. In my book, this gets you noticed in the first instance. Go for as many auditions as you can, especially those that are out of your comfort zone!’

IFTA Q&A Series: Joanne O’Brien on Costume Design
IFTA Q&A Series: Eleanor Bowman on Cinematography
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