Riley Blakeway's Kinsale Diary #1 and #2

Screen Shot 2017-09-26 at 1.40.10 pm.jpgAfter been nominated for two finalists in Music Video category at the Kinsale Awards, Robber's Dog director Riley Blakeway (left), who fortuitously happen to be in UK as the same time as the show, thought it would be a good idea to attend the show. So he did...

I'm going to preface this by stating that it's extremely subjective. I was a complete outsider to this event and the European ad world. Which I think might've been good because I had zero preconceived ideas of anyone. It was all interaction and at face value.

I arrive in Ireland and everybody is very friendly except the people that run the hostel that I was planning on staying at. Looked like a scene from Catch Me Daddy. So I forked out the extra money for a nice hotel room. After three flights I probably would have given my net worth for my own room. Or an organ of lesser importance. A kidney perhaps.
IMG_2634.jpegSight seeing, I went and looked at the castle. Couldn't get the Game of Thrones theme song out of my head and wanted to tie a letter to one of the ravens (probably not a raven.)

Sleep for an hour or two and do the usual hotel thing. Sprawl my bag all over the place simply because I can and because I'm not staying in a hostel.

Meet a bloke by the name of Keith at the hotel pub and drink my first pint. I order a pale ale and hang my head in shame for not ordering a Guinness.  It's raining and I smash three pints whilst the hotel plays Rupert Holmes 'Escape' (The PiƱa Colada Song) It couldn't be less fitting but I'll take it. Keith recommended the hake from around the corner and assured me that you can't get lost in Kinsale. At the next location, a three-piece band played what sounded like a pan flute version of Simon and Garfunkel. Not quite Irish but getting warmer.

Day One.

I wake up the next morning at 4am and decide to go for an hour drive in the dark to see some scenery.  I arrive at a lighthouse after navigating a series of narrow bends and loops.  I park in the dark on what strangely feels like someone's property.  I Google it and as I do my car gets surrounded by barking dogs.  I turn around and drive back to Kinsale. The Sun still hasn't risen.

At the awards, nobody in the hotel seems to know where I go to sign in. I check the conference rooms but they are completely empty. Perhaps I'm early. Even still it seems very low key thus far. I'm trying to spot "ad people" but I'm not entirely sure what I'm looking for.

I meet a nice Irish guy named Ray, he tells me a story of when his film played to himself and one other person at 9am last year. The films start and I get a taste of this first hand. I shoot a quick glance to size up if any of the other 4 people in the room are likely to of made the film playing. I quickly remember how bad, bad dialogue can be.  Later Ray's film would screen - A science fiction depicting a post-apocalyptic landscape where the US military are selling arms to a horde of Aliens that look like giant cockroaches. Probably my favorite short of the day.

I passed out and woke up just in time to catch the end of the music videos. Missed most of them but managed to catch the second of my finalist entries with a crowd of about 7 including myself.  I sat at the back whilst the 3 people in the row in front of me talked over the film and read my name out loud to each other. Wish I stayed in bed.

Went to the Spaniard to have a drink, forgot to change for the award dinner so turned up in skate shoes and a hoodie. Nice! A director from Prettybird won the award in my category. As well as a special announced second winner in the same category.   

I made some Irish friends earlier in the day. They had a finalist film nominated for two categories.  Both of those categories were basically wiped and weren't awarded a winner.  So, in short, some nominated categories get two awards whilst other categories get clipped.  Not a format I'm accustomed to but this is my first ad festival so I'm rolling with it. And the dinner was damn good!

Day Two.

I miss the first portion of the talks and I'm very disappointed after catching a bit of Q and A and listening to Andy Sandoz speak.  Regretting sleeping in as it sounded very interesting.

IMG_2648.jpegThe second talk was about "The Business Of Creativity" and Miriam Jordan Keane spoke about life on the client side of the fence. There was a discussion of risky advertising followed by a presentation of her campaign for BG featuring a Cartoon penguin.  Apparently this particular campaign caused quite a bit of an uproar when it was released. "Why would a penguin use a heater" and "does the penguin have a girlfriend?"

This was followed by one of the most incredible talks I've ever attended. The speaker was Craftist/Activist Carrie Reichardt.  She spoke about her life in art, what it meant to her, why she does what she does.  One of the focus points of her discussion was about befriending convicted men on death row during the final years of their life. She explained to us that a substantial number of people on death row are ex military and that you can be eligible for the death sentence with a mental disability. She then told usIMG_2652.jpeg how one of the families of the prisoners that she was in correspondence with had asked her to be there for the execution. Admittedly, she agreed whilst high on ecstasy. She flew over from London and spent the last two days with the prisoner before he was executed. The lethal injection took seven minutes whilst she watched her friend who she still believes to be innocent struggle for his last breaths. In Texas you can legally transport a body if you have a body bag, so they took the body and made what is know as a death mask - A plaster impression of the face of the deceased.  She then incorporated this into an artwork in memory of the man.  A lot of people in the room were moved to tears, including myself.

We broke for lunch and me and some new friends from London descended the hotel stairs.  Halfway we were met by a middle-aged, stocky and very confused looking attendee.  He looked us up andIMG_2653.jpeg down and yelled back to his colleague "Where's the lunch room, there's all these weird people and I don't know where I'm going" genuinely laughed but regrettably didn't get the chance to ask him what defined a "weird" person in 2017.

Rosie Arnold gave an incredible talk called 'Un-Stereotype' the World. She talked about her experience as a woman in advertising and listed numerous examples of good and bad campaigns. Some old examples of sexist advertising look like parodies of sexism. It's hard to fathom. Some good examples were: The Man Up Campaign, Ariel India's 2016 #ShareTheLoad campaign and Sport England 'This Girl Can'.

This was followed by pints, darts and some dancing. Was a good party but hard to relax after hitting all the big issues.

In conclusion, the festival side of the awards was a little confusing but I soon realised that the short film and music video awards are kind of just a bonus to help thicken up the festival. I caught some brilliant talks about creativity and met some passionate people that are campaigning to drive advertising forward in a progressive and productive way. I was grateful to experience that. Kinsale is stunning. The Irish are some of the best I've met and I'm glad the Sharks exist.

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