A former employee of CNN has followed his life’s ambition to become a filmmaker and now has his sights set on his home turf
By Phillip Brennan
A WEST Cork filmmaker has said that his dream is to make a TV series that would be shot in West Cork.
During the recent Fastnet Film Festival, John Healy held a fundraising screening of a 1960’s movie I Thank a Fool, in aid of Schull Community Hospital, who took care of his mother Sheila, in her final days.
John is a versatile actor and filmmaker with an interest in comedy. Born in Cork city and now living in Dunkelly near Goleen, John was always heavily involved in drama, even at a very young age.
The economics graduate of University College Cork also studied modern theatre at the Granary on the Mardyke.
While he was there, he appeared in a number of productions, including an adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray.
After that John moved to New York for 18 years, where he was CNN’s digital marketing brand manager, and later studied classical drama there. Five years ago, John came back to Ireland full-time. Following his dream of being a thespian, he joined the Gaiety School of Acting in Dublin.
Last week, he organised the screening for the Schull hospital of the 1962 movie which was partly filmed in nearby Crookhaven. As a result of the event, John will present a cheque to the staff of the hospital for their excellent work. The screening was held in the Bunratty Inn, where John interviewed Bill O’Sullivan of O’Sullivan’s pub in Crookhaven.
I Thank a Fool starred actors Susan Hayward, Peter Finch, Diane Cilento and Cyril Cusack. At the time, Billy had a very close relationship with Diane. ‘I used to take her fishing and to the dance once, then she left and married Sean Connery,’ he told John.
As most people will know, the late Cyril Cusack is the father of Irish actress Sinead, who is the wife of actor Jeremy Irons, and they now reside at Kilcoe castle, near Ballydehob. John pointed out that dozens of West Cork locals can be seen in the film. The cast and crew took such a shine to the area that they often socialised with the locals.
In fact, one of the many locals who was cast in the film was John’s mother, Sheila. She can be seen outside St Brendan’s Church overlooking the magnificent Crookhaven harbour. Sheila, of course, had the great honour of meeting the celebrities. ‘It was the first feature film ever to be filmed around there,’ said John, but of course there have been several since, such as Star Wars, War of the Buttons, The Pier, The Wind that Shakes the Barley, and The Young Offenders.
John’s latest project, Holy Rogues was filmed earlier this year in Schull and Crookhaven. It is a period piece about two Englishmen – “Alf” (Healy), a toff, and “Dodge”, a Cockney, who are down on their luck and pretend to be Irish clerics to trick rich little old ladies out of their valuables. It is set in 1912. Inevitably, things go horribly wrong. There are five main characters and 13-14 extras, all recruited from Schull Drama Group. John said it would have been a very expensive project, only the drama group also provided many props for the film. It was a 28-page script but was narrowed to a 15-pages for the film festival.
John is hoping to make Holy Rogues into a TV show, or a feature film, and says West Cork is his first choice on the list of possible locations.