Mullingar film-maker stuns with new documentary

Mullingar filmmaker Isaac Burke. Inset: Local taxi man Sean Casey.

By Claire Corrigan

His documentary has had thousands of views since its release last month but for Mullingar resident and video maker Isaac Burke, this is just the start, as he explained to Topic this week.

‘As It Happened’ is a poignant short film about the life of former Mullingar taxi man, Sean Casey, who describes in unflinching detail how his life was turned around in one moment after a lifetime of alcohol abuse.

Isaac moved to Mullingar last year to volunteer with Youth for Christ Ireland, which is an international organisation, and also works at The Bloomfield House Hotel. “My brother Liam has been working with Youth for Christ for the past three years.”

Isaac has also been building his own business as a freelance video maker mainly making promotional material with clients as well as a number of his own original short films. “It’s really been working out for me here in Mullingar so I decided to stay. I really like it.”

Isaac has been making videos for several years but says this is the first video he has created that could be called a documentary. “I’d made videos before that were shot and edited in one day but there was more thought process behind this one and it’s an actual person with a real story so it has been a turning point in my own original work.”

The 21 year old instantly saw potential for a documentary after being introduced to Sean by his brother at the Mullingar Christian Fellowship Church on Spoutwell Lane.

“I met him about a year ago and knew he would be a great person to make a video on but I didn’t have the skill set or equipment at the time.

I wasn’t really ready yet. I approached him after a year in church and asked him if I could do a project with him and he agreed immediately.”

With an emotional and dark sky acting as the backdrop as well as sweeping vistas along a turbulent Lough Ennell, Sean’s harrowing battle with alcoholism is exactly captured in the eight minute long documentary.

Shots in the rear view mirror illustrate his journey back to a time when Sean no longer wished to live while close ups of the man show the map of lines on his face. “I got him to tell me his story first. I recorded him for an hour and a half and had to cut it down to eight minutes. There were lots of amazing footage but I wanted to keep it as short as possible. I tried to tell the key points and have a start, middle and an end.”

The first section of the documentary deals with how Sean became embroiled in his battle with alcoholism. “The turning point comes when he was hearing voices telling him to go underneath a tube in London but he got on the tube instead. That leads up to when he was in his sister’s kitchen. I wanted to get those shots where he is thinking into his past. They are the real moments and they are more natural and you capture those facial expressions too. At that moment when his sister says that she wants to get someone to pray for him, there are just five seconds of him thinking which mirrors how he would have been thinking back then that ‘Who would want to pray for me?’”

The film has almost 3000 views on Youtube, which Isaac said has come as a huge shock. “I thought there would be maybe 300 at most. My past videos may have had 100 views or so. I uploaded it at 6pm and it had 600 views which I was happy with. Then it just kept consistently going up and up and it’s still going up. People that I knew shared it and then people they knew shared it. I think it was just meant to be a story that was supposed to be told.”

Future plans
After the incredible success of the documentary, Isaac said he is keen to continue documenting real-life stories. “It’s what I always wanted to do. I want to find the right people who have an interesting story to tell. My next short film won’t be about a person because I want to try different things. I would love to a documentary on what we can learn from children. As a Christian, I believe we are all children of God and that we should put all worry and stress on to him as children do with their parents. If you look at children, they way they live and think about life is beautiful and we could learn a lot from them.”
‘As It Happened’ is available on YouTube now.

You can follow Isaac on Instagram @isaacburkevideo