Graduate Focus / Sam Horgan

Interview by Jack O'Kennedy

In GRADUATE FOCUS we chat to former film students of Trinity College who are now working in the industry. This week we spoke to Sam Horgan (class of 2013) who is now employed as an Assistant Colourist at the legendary  effects house Double Negative.


TFR: Do you remember what film you were watching when you decided it was a medium you’d like to work in one day?

SH: Although it’s not a visual effects heavy film, The Breakfast Club had a significant effect on me, in regard to the possibilities available to filmmakers restricted to singular locations. I remember it came on the telly late at night and I was instantly blown away by the depth of the story despite geographical restrictions.

TFR: What was your experience of studying film in college like?

SH: I had a great time studying film in college. I was exposed to so many great films that I don’t think I ever would have seen otherwise, and was encouraged to think about film in an entirely new way. In addition to this, I really enjoyed the practical elements of the course, which provoked my interest in postproduction and subsequently VFX. The film department are a great bunch.

TFR: If you were to do the course over again would you do anything differently?

SH: I would have liked to have been more involved in the society side of things, maybe DU Filmmakers, but I never really got around to it and I saw some cool stuff coming out of there. Maybe I would have tried to manage my time a bit better, there was a few all-nighters back then that got very grim!

TFR: What skills are worth learning in college to help students have a better chance of succeeding in getting employment afterwards?

SH: I think all the ‘standard’ skills are always important; attention to detail, working well within a team, working with deadlines. These are all very relevant in film as it’s such a group effort and everyone has their own important role, and as a deadline gets closer it can get really stressful! I suppose it’s one thing to describe your skills but another to show them, that’s why it’s great to have a project or portfolio or showreel that demonstrates what you can do.

TFR: Can you describe how you ended up working where you are now?

SH: I started as a runner in a postproduction house called Screen Scene. It was here where I was first introduced to Nuke, which is the industry standard visual effects compositing software. I was then lucky enough to be offered a 6 month internship in the VFX department, where I was trained in Nuke and then contributed to a few different projects, including Ripper Street and Frank. After the internship ended I managed to wrangle a five week stint as a runner in London VFX house Double Negative through a very tenuous connection. Five weeks turned into ten weeks and so forth and I’ve been here for eight months now!

TFR: What’s your job title and what does the job entail?

SH: My current job title is Assistant Colourist. I assist the VFX Colourists in making sure that the colour grading on the VFX shots we produce matches the non VFX shots and therefore doesn’t ‘pop’ in the edit.

TFR: What films have you worked on?

SH: I think my favourite film we’ve done so far is ‘Interstellar’, I’m very excited to see the final product. We’ve also done Exodus: Of Gods and Kings, In the Heart of the Sea, Hercules, and we’re currently working on the new Terminator and Avengers films.

TFR: You had to leave ireland to pursue a career in film, do you think that may be the case for the majority of people who wish to work in the industry?

SH: Due to the size difference between London and Dublin there is obviously a bit more opportunities in London, and not just in film. However the film industry in Ireland is definitely growing at a very fast rate, the huge success of a company like Brown Bag films is an indication of this. I suppose it depends on what it is you’d like to do, I hope more and more people will have the opportunities necessary to stay in Dublin and contribute to the Irish film industry.

TFR: Any final words of advice for current film students?

SH: I guess it's a bit of a no brainer and I know I'm not offering anything groundbreaking but try and get as much practical experience as possible, be enthusiastic and be friendly! There's a real ladder system in the film business so try and get in on the bottom rung and work your way up to where you wanna be!