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My Influences: Keith Farrell, Managing Director, Old Hall Films

Keith Farrell

Old Hall Films is a production company based in Trafford, Greater Manchester.

In 2018, Keith Farrell founded Old Hall Films with the intention of making just one short film. Over the years, the company has gone on to create a host of award-winning short films and TV drama series for ZDF Studios, RTÉ, Screen Ireland and Corus Entertainment. 

Alongside opening a further office in north Dublin, Old Hall films has also co-produced a three-part history series for Irish TV and Farrell was crowned Best Director at Manchester Film Festival for the upcoming release of Wait For Me – Farrell’s first feature film.

Here, he shared his top three influences.


The person that has inspired my working career the most, and why

There are so many people that have inspired my career that it’s hard to single anyone out. However, when I first started my career as a film maker, I was lucky enough to have two fantastic mentors in James Miller, a producer/director who taught me a lot about making films and visual storytelling, and executive producer Liz McLeod who encouraged me to seek out and find great stories to tell on screen.

Finally, I would not have a career in film and TV without the director and executive producer Bill Lyons who invited me in for a chat at the Granada TV’s Quay Street HQ in the autumn of 2001 and at the end of that chat offered me a two week trial at the company that lasted nearly five years!

The place that has inspired my working career the most, and why

The old Granada TV studios on Quay Street in Manchester. As a kid growing up in Ireland, I vividly remember the iconic Granada TV “G” logo at the end of iconic TV series such Sherlock Holmes, Coronation Street or Jewel in the Crown. The Granada-produced film “My Left Foot” was one of the films that inspired me to want to make films. So when I moved to Manchester, Granada TV was where I aspired to work and I was lucky enough to work on the fifth floor of that iconic building for nearly five years at the start of my career.

I loved working at the Quay Street studios (the first purpose-built TV studios in the UK) even if by the early 2000s the buildings had seen better days. Each morning as a young 20-something researcher, I would get a frisson of excitement walking toward that iconic building with its bright red Granada TV sign. To me it was just incredible to walk past the Coronation Street set, always a hive of activity, enter the main studio building and pass what was left of Studio 4 (where the Beatles first appeared on TV) or go down the stairs to studios 2, 6, 8 & 12 (all numbered evenly so as to give the impression the complex was bigger than it was) and be part of all this television history.

That building shaped my career because there were so many talented people working under one roof that I learnt so much about filmmaking from at that early stage of my career.

The thing that has inspired my working career the most, and why

In 1995 I began my career as a journalist at my local newspaper in Dublin, The Northside People. That experience taught me how to tell stories that engage your audience and keep them coming back for more. Although I have been working in film and TV for over two decades now, first as a documentary maker and latterly as a drama director, that experience of working in journalism still inspires me.

The films that I make as a director are often based on real events and the struggle people go through every day in their life. Our new film Wait for Me’s visual style was inspired by the social realism of documentaries such as the Up series, the writing of George Orwell, and the pioneering photo journalism of Dorothy Lange. Old Hall Films’ first feature film, Wait for Me will be released in cinemas from 2nd June.

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