A Day in the Career of… Megan K. Fox, Filmmaker
Megan K. Fox is the award-winning Irish writer/director of short films Slow Down (2015), GIRL (2016), Calling Home (2017) and The Shift (2018).
Graduating with a Directing M.A. from the Met Film School in 2015, Megan has collected over a dozen awards for her work since, along with nominations for Best New Irish Director at the Kinsale Shark Awards in 2016 and the Young Directors Awards Ireland in 2018.
Her first comedy film, The Shift, won the Film in Cork Short Script Award 2018 and has its world premiere at the Cork Film Festival in November.
What time do you usually get up and how do you start your day?
I’d love to say I get up early and I’m very productive in the mornings, but I’m more of a night owl and tend to get bursts of creativity around 1am. I start my day with a nice strong coffee while I check my emails… so nothing too inspirational there I’m afraid.
Take us on a jaunt through your career to date…what was your route to film making?
I always loved to write poetry and short stories and was a total bookworm as a kid. I pursued a literary path in my studies after school, doing a BA in Film, Literature and Drama at Dublin Business School (DBS).
I loved film but never even considered I could make a movie myself at that stage. However, over the course of those three years studying, I fell in love with Cinema History and the idea of bringing my stories to life on screen.
I made my first short film in Dublin and then sent it off to film schools, hoping to continue my studies with a more hands-on, practical course. Cue moving to London in 2014 to do my MA in Film Directing at the Met Film School.
There is only so much time and advice a more senior figure can offer you, but friends at a similar stage in their careers can lean on each other for feedback and support
During my time at the Met, I got to experiment and met some very talented people who I’d go on to collaborate with on many of my projects, including Ben Calloway, DP of most of my shorts and music videos to date.
Since graduating I’ve made four short films that have brought me to festivals all over the world, broadcast on global TV channels and exhibited in venues such as the BFI and the Barbican Centre. It’s been a great ride so far!
How did you go about raising funding for your first film / getting it in to production?
As many do, I crowdfunded for my first short film towards the end of my time studying at DBS. I was producing, writing and directing the project myself and we used Fundit as our platform.
We filmed a little teaser video, along with posting bios (all of which were fairly lightweight at the time!) and artwork etc. to try drum up some interest, but it was mainly friends and family who donated… of course. I’m eternally grateful to them for their support in that respect.
The whole production was very run and gun, and I kind of cringe to think back on it now, but everyone’s got to have a first attempt.
It’s all about immersing yourself in not only your own field of interest, but your industry on the whole
How important are mentors in your industry? What do you find are the best ways to expand your network and build your profile?
It’s helpful and inspiring to have mentors and people you can look up to in this industry, but it’s equally important to surround yourself with peers and form a network of support for one another.
At the end of the day, there is only so much time and advice a more senior figure can offer you, but if you have friends at a similar stage in their creative careers, you can lean on each other for feedback, support and collaboration. For me that’s been much more beneficial than any industry mentorship.
As for expanding your network, it’s all about immersing yourself in not only your own field of interest, but your industry on the whole — seeking out opportunities to meet new people, showcase your work and learn about others.
Organisations like WFTV build our skill sets and confidence in an industry that has in the past sought to demoralise us
You are a member of Cinesisters (a collective of female film directors) and Directors UK – how have these organizations contributed to your career journey?
Cinesisters is a network of award-winning female filmmakers who support each other’s projects and have a strong social media presence to elevate our work and shout about successes.
Visibility is so important in this industry, so it’s been great to have a platform where, not only can you send in your good news and know it will be shared, but you can also hear about the great work your peers are doing.
Organisations like Directors UK, the Royal Television Society and Women in Film and TV are also great for keeping abreast of industry events and opportunities.
I try to remember that not every day of my life needs to be work orientated – when you’re freelance you feel a constant pressure to keep moving.
Can you tell us about your involvement in the Women in Film & TV organization – what are its aims and in what practical ways can its members help to move the dial forward in terms of gender equality in the industry?
It’s not so much about members trying to move the dial forward, our responsibilities are really only to ourselves and our own creative goals. It’s more about the organisation offering support to move women’s careers forward, and thus change the landscape of the industry in a real, tangible way.
I worked on the events team at WFTV UK last year. I got to see firsthand how organisations like this one are helping to connect their members with each other and build our skill sets and confidence in an industry that has in the past sought to demoralise us.
Women in Film and TV chapters around the world do important work to research and tackle gender imbalance in the film and TV industries, but for me the most important work they do is in offering support and training to members through masterclasses, mentoring opportunities and screenings.
People of my generation have got a great work ethic but that sometimes comes at the detriment of our wellbeing.
How do you motivate yourself on days when your energy levels are lower?
I try to remember that not every day of my life needs to be work orientated. That’s hard when you do what you love, and when you’re freelance you feel a constant pressure to keep moving lest you drown. But self-care is really important.
When I do realise that I’m on top of things for the moment, and know there’s something coming down the pipeline, I try to take some personal time to walk on the beach or take myself to a film I’ve been meaning to see.
For me it’s more of a struggle to step off the treadmill for a minute than to motivate myself, and I think a lot of people of my generation feel the same way. We’ve got great work ethic but that sometimes comes at the detriment of our wellbeing.
Put out what you want to get back in terms of love and support to other people in your industry
What’s the best bit of advice you’ve been given in your career?
It’s not a competition. Everyone is doing their own thing, and no one can do what you do the way you do it.
So, put out what you want to get back in terms of love and support to other people in your industry. You don’t need to step on someone else’s back to elevate yourself.
What are your goals, personally and professionally for the coming months?
I’ve just come back to Dublin after almost five years in London as some great opportunities have arisen here recently.
On a personal level I’m settling in and enjoying being home and making new connections. I have a new short film in pre-production that we’ll be shooting in Dingle in early 2019 commissioned by Kerry Co. Council, so I’m pretty immersed in developing that story right now, and excited to see where it leads.
I’m very much looking forward to seeing ‘The Shift’ premiere at the Cork Film Festival and I’d love to see it continue its festival journey afterwards. The cast and crew worked so hard and it would be great to see their efforts rewarded.
How do you relax & de-stress at the end of the day and during difficult periods?
I’m a big advocate of bubble baths, Matt Haig books and a glass of wine. Preferably all at once!
The Shift makes its world premiere at the Cork Film Festival on November 10th as part of the Irish Shorts Programme 1 (2pm, The Gate). It will also be screened in The Best of Cork Shorts programme on November 18th (3pm, The Everyman). For tickets see corkfilmfest.org