19 April 2024 The Irish Film & Television Network

Irish Film and Television Network


Education / Training


Making the Cut

Making The Cut– DOP Blaine Rennicks
27 Oct 2015 : Seán Brosnan
Rennicks is a graduate of DKIT
As part of our Making The Cut series, IFTN profiles some of the countries most accomplished young graduates of the past few years to find out more about the places they first cut their teeth in the industry.

Blaine Rennicks is a DOP and camera operator with credits on ‘A Good Day to Die Hard’, ‘Sineater’ and ‘Guerrila’ who is a graduate of the Dundalk Institute of Technology.

Here, Blaine talks to IFTN about his time at DKIT.

IFTN: How did DKIT prepare you for your career in film?

BLAINE RENNICKS:‘I studied Video & Film specifically in fourth year only; I completed my ordinary BA, i.e. my first three years, in Creative Multimedia. It was here that I first picked up a camera and learned the basics, but by the time I hit fourth year I was looking for more focus and in-depth learning for film, so I switched. In DKIT, the focus is at least as much on the practical side of shooting as the academic, which suited me as I learn more with a hands-on approach. I think this is generally true of filmmakers; it's the practical skills that matter most, the rest comes with experience.’

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

‘As part of Video & Film in fourth year, I completed a six week work placement at Still Films in Dublin. Still was my first choice; they had many successful productions under their belt, such as 'Pyjama Girls' and 'Seaview', and they produced a mix of documentary and fiction which interested me. I learned a lot and felt very much part of the team since it was a relatively small company. I've worked on a few films with Still since the placement too, including as camera operator on 'Black Ice', so it is true that placements can lead to future work.’

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

‘There's no straight and simple answer to this golden question! I worked freelance as a DOP/editor and occasional director for a year in Ireland before trying out London. In London I did ok as a camera assistant for the first year but eventually I needed something full time, it's an expensive city! I now work as a camera technician in a major rental house, so I finally can expect a monthly salary. I will go back to freelance though, I enjoy the freedom and space to explore my own creative projects.’

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

‘I've been lucky enough to work on a few projects with some major film schools in London, including the NFTS, so I was fortunate enough to see how some of the best renowned schools in the world work. One thing I took away from that experience was the benefit of having specific courses for the many disciplines in film and then having these students team up across courses to work together on films. I'd like to see courses start up where a student can start on a general film course, figure out where their interests and skills lie, and then eventually graduate in a more specific field, e.g. cinematography, editing or producing.’

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

‘I continue to work as a DOP and AC on short freelance gigs such as music videos, corporates around my full time hours as a camera tech. It's nice to be able to hop back and forth between home and London for these kind of projects. Down the line, the aim is to shoot and direct my first feature within the next two years.’

Have you any further advice for anyone wishing to get into TV and film production in Ireland?

‘I know very little about TV so I can only advise filmmakers, and to those I would say - shoot, shoot, shoot! The more hands-on experience you get the better, even if your first few films suck - mine did. The lecturers at DKIT always encouraged the same, and for me they fostered that approach, such as by providing access to genuinely fantastic facilities and equipment. A film course like DKIT's provides the background knowledge and skills training you need but most importantly it puts you in a position to meet collaborators that you will probably continue working with for life.’

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