Jonathan Hughes

Position: Production co-ordinator / Script supervisor / Make up – The Young Offenders (2016)


What inspired you to get into working with the film industry?

When I was 15, my parents pretty much had decided already that I was going to be an accountant. One day, I was sitting in an economics class and I had a sudden realisation that I couldn’t bare the thought of someone asking me what I did in the future and having to tell them I was an accountant. So I decided to follow my passions, despite my parent’s concerns. I had always written at scs long as I kept up my other subjects in case it didn’t work out and I had a solid back up plan. I ended up getting full marks in my film school portfolio and took that as a very clear sign that I had made the right choice to run away from accountancy and live a crazy unstable film life instead.

Can you tell us a bit about your route through the industry?

I graduated form the National Film School of Ireland in IADT in 2013. For about 5 months, I was on the dole filling out job applications and sending begging emails to production companies trying to find work.

One day I got a call out of the blue from someone I was at college with. He was now working as a co-ordinator on a TV sitcom and needed someone to come in to the office to help the director out with some script notes. I was available and I went in and met with Peter Foott, and that kick started my career.

He seemed to like my work on that first day and invited me back to script edit on the show the next week. Then invited me back again to script supervise the entire sitcom shoot. After that, he invited me back to work on a few different projects, before The Fear Season 3 & 4 went into production and he recommended me to Julie Ryan, the show’s producer, to work as a researcher on the show. I worked in the production office with Julie and Peter for almost a year, producing the two series. Then when the time came for The Fear to wrap and The Young Offenders began to kick off, they both asked me to come to Cork with them for the summer and work on set. Since then I’ve moved to London and have just completed my MA in Screenwriting at Goldsmiths University Of London.

What was the best part of making a film? And the worst?

The Young Offenders is my only experience of working on feature film so far. And funnily enough, the best and worst part is kind of the same thing; the sheer stress of it all. We had such a low budget and we were so understaffed, we all took on multiple roles (some of us taking on 4 or 5 at once). It was the most manic, most insane, most tiring experience of my career. To this day, I’m still not sure how some of us survived unscathed. But it was also the best part. There was such a good atmosphere on set, we all worked insane hours with no money but we all mucked in and got the job done. Everyone was so passionate about making this and doing the best we possibly could. There were absolutely no egos on set. If you had a problem, someone was always there to help, no matter how busy they were with their own stuff. We all chipped in and got the job done, which ultimately was incredibly inspiring to see, and I feel is a rarity in this day and age. Despite the hectic-ness and the sleep deprivation, Peter and Julie managed to create such a fantastic fun atmosphere on set so we all knew the hard work would be worth it.

Was there a person working in your field who you saw as a role model when you were first getting into the industry?

It’s strange, I came into the industry as a writer but have found myself working mainly in production or script supervision. Not sure I had any major producer role models coming in, despite the big shots like the Weinsteins, the Coens, Scott Rudin etc etc. In terms of writers, I’ve always been a massive fan of people like Charlie Kaufmann, Pedro Almodovar and Julia Davis. Kaufmann for the complex character work in his films. Almodovar for his deft ability at mixing obscenity and pathos to create work that is truly unique and obviously “his”. And Julis Davis for the pitch black sense of humour she brings to all of her projects, reminding us that there’s never really a boundary you can’t push if you’re smart enough about it.

If you had to recommend one film to the audience what would it be and why?

In this instance, I’m going to say “When Harry Met Sally…” because it is a near perfect script. Sure Billy Crystal will never be believable as a college student in the opening scenes. Yes, his best friend in the film is really annoying. Yes, we all know how it’s going to end. But structurally, and from a dialogue perspective, the movie just works. The quintessential romantic comedy that, to this day, has never been bettered.

What do you feel about illegal downloading? How will it impact your ability to stay afloat in the industry?

Illegal downloading is something you don’t fully understand when you’re younger. You kind of think, what’s the harm, they’ll never know the difference. But as you get older, and especially if you work in this industry, you see what a plague it can be. You put so much work and effort and time and money into creating something, and then someone steals it and makes it freely available. It’s a little heartbreaking. I’m not sue the problem will ever be fully eradicated, it’s become such a part of the entire process in a way, which is horrible in and of itself. But hopefully it can be quashed.

What do you think about releasing films online and in cinemas on the same date – is it all about the cinema experience?

Personally, nothing beats the cinema experience. But I think I’m an old romantic at heart. I think it’s a little old fashioned to presume people will still drop everything and take a night off to go to the cinema to see a film the weekend it’s released. I think the idea of a day and date release of films across a variety of platforms is a very interesting one and something we’ll see much more of in the future. People are consuming media in new ways like never before and I think strategies like this might be the only way to catch up with that and help stamp out illegal leaks of the film hitting the internet before you had planned.


What’s the viewing future?

Depressingly, it could be releasing your film in bite-sized chunks via snapchat to watch on your phone. Hopefully, that won’t happen, but I’m waiting for a major film to try it. People’s attention spans are getting shorter, and they demand everything be available for them to look at on their phone. It’s only a matter of time, I fear.


Jonathan Hughes