A DOCUMENTARY film cataloguing 25 years of the International Feakle Festival is to be screened on TG4 later this month, ahead of this year’s annual festival.
In Time, In Tune, which celebrates a quarter of a century of the festival and the music and musicians of East Clare, will be broadcast on Saturday, July 27 at 9.15pm and again on Sunday, July 28 at 6.05pm.
The documentary premiered locally at last year’s festival after the committee decided to mark the 25th year milestone by charting the development and unique character of the music event over that period.
Gary Pepper, festival chairman, knew his brother Fintan had filmed events from the earliest days of the festival. This archive included footage of local musicians John Nuaghton, Paddy Canny, P Joe Hayes, Francie Donnellan, Joe Bane, Mary McNamara, Seamus Bugler, Vincent Griffin and a young Martin Hayes.
Gary and fellow committee members Tina Nelson and Helen Hayes wanted to include this material and the committee set about applying for Leader funding to work towards producing a film. They approached local filmmaker Hilary Dully to direct the film and once essential funding was secured, production began in earnest in June 2012.
Hilary Dully remembered being presented with a box of old VHS tapes and DVDs. “The original material was shot by Fintan Pepper in the old analogue video eight format and the first task was to sift through hours and hours of tapes. Luckily, he had a good filmmaking sense and kept very good notes, which helped enormously. As I went through the tapes I could see that we had some great material, some real gems. Then it became a question of transferring all the material from analogue format to digital form, a mammoth task,” she said.
Transfering was done over an intensive two-week period by Hilary, with the help of equipment sourced from the Galway Film Centre.
Interviews were filmed in June and July 2012, while additional archive material was secured from TG4 and German filmmaker Daniel Plappart.
“I knew that the film had to be completed for the opening night of the festival in early August. It was a race against time because we had no room for anything going wrong, and that non-existent margin of error is very scary,” Hilary continued.
The title of the film, In Time, In Tune, was the brainchild of committee member and singer Helen Hayes, who wanted to capture the idea of music of East Clare tunefully existing and moving through time.
Hilary worked with renowned film editor Gordon Bruic to bring about the final edit and recalls securing the final piece of the jigsaw just a couple of days before the film was completed.
“I was talking to sound engineer Matt Purcell about acoustics for the showing of the film. Matt asked if I had any material from the first Feakle Festival which Fintan Pepper had not filmed. I was absolutely delighted when Matt produced a DVD copy of the opening ceremony of the very first festival, with Ciaran McMathúna and fondly remembered, now deceased committee member Michael Lillis, doing the honours,” she said.
This archive material from the very first festival held in honour of Dr Bill and Tony Loughnane was added to the film just hours before its completion. It was shown on the opening night of the 25th Feakle Festival. Hilary said she breathed a sigh of relief once the first showing was over.
She was so heartened by the response to the film that she decided to send a copy to the chief commissioning editor at TG4, Micheal Ó Meallaigh, whom she had worked with in the past. Micheal immediately recognised the charm of the film and agreed to broadcast the film.
He described it as “a feast of music, stories and anecdotes” and although In Time In Tune is made in English, Micheal insists the film is as “comh gaelach leis na Gael iad féin”.
He explained, “The music of the Irish language, sadly no longer the daily language of East Clare, has been subsumed into their music and dance. The intimate atmosphere of the Feakle Festival celebrating 25 years has been captured on camera and TG4 is proud to air this celebration of Irish culture”.
This year’s Feakle Festival runs from August 7 to 12.