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  • Writer's pictureJoe Mulvihill

100 Shoots as a 1st AD!

2023 has been an extremely tough year for the industry and I feel so much sympathy for those most affected by it. I recently worked with a seasoned commercial focus puller on a night shoot music video where he mentioned that he wouldn’t be on the job if it wasn’t so dead. It's been a strange year for sure but I just wanted to take the time to celebrate my 100th shoot as a 1st AD.

I also wanted to celebrate 2023 as for me - it was without a doubt the best year of my life. There were difficulties of course but the highs I’ve experienced have made it so special. The best of which was marrying, Alice, the love of my life surrounded by my favourite people. I also had the best stag do across Budapest, Barcelona and Amsterdam; had the most amazing Honeymoon in Florida; got my first tattoo; turned 30; and did my first ever set of pull ups. 2023 will never be forgotten.

Career wise 2023 was the year I fully established myself as a 1st Assistant Director. Not only have I just finished my 100th project as a 1st AD but I also surpassed my target goal for APA shoots in the year. I’m executing commercial projects efficiently and managing high level music videos to great success. I care not only about the film we’re shooting but more so all involved in the filmmaking process. I enjoy what I do and I’m very good at it.

Still though, it’s been a strange year. There was a lot of uncertainty to what was next coming back from my honeymoon in October. Beforehand there were music videos for artists such as Bugzy Malone, Jeshi and the Idles but I had no idea of what was to come. Luckily the next stage was a terrific part of my journey. I came back to Sky Sports shoots, content for Adidas, a pancake commercial and many more projects.

My favourite project since coming back though was a short film with Iconoclast. It saw an intimate story of a mother and daughter’s fractured relationship recovering through hardship. It involved musical performances in a hospital studio, a choreographed stunt of a character falling down a set of stairs and a closed set for a live mammography scene. The crew worked hard, we put out fires well and what we produced was magic.

On day 4 we shot the best sequence I have ever been a part of making. It was a musical number in which the daughter enters a dreamscape surrounded by negativity. We were shooting on 35mm film with steadicam on a rickshaw tracking backwards. As she sings we had water pouring on her through a rain machine held behind camera. We had several queues of actor blocking where characters bumped into her leading to specific reactions. We followed her down the street as she came to grips with this world and it was glorious thanks to all those involved.

I’ve thankfully been busy this week shooting multiple commercial projects and I’m now ready to enjoy the Christmas break. I’m looking forward to spending time with family, celebrating the year with friends and chilling at home living life at my own pace. I’ll come into the new year strong and seize all opportunities that come my way. I think the industry will heal in 2024 and I’m looking forward to stable work life for all once again. Who knows what surprises the year will bring.

See you on the next one!

Merry Christmas


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