Andrew Khew (23) is a film maker from Blaney. A former student of Portora Royal School, his film, 'Sisters', has been selected to show at The International Film Festival of the Art of Cinematography Camerimage, in Poland.

Did you study film at school or university?

I have just completed four years of BA [Hons] Film and Television Production at the Institute of Art, Design and Technology in Dun Laoghaire, Co. Dublin.

I graduated with First Class honours, and would definitely recommend the course to any of the sixth form students looking to go and do film at university.

Have you showed at any film festivals?

Two of the previous films I shot, went as far as Seattle to show at NFFTY, which is the largest youth film festival in the world, and it was great to be part of it.

This year, my graduation film, 'Sisters', has been selected to show at The International Film Festival of the Art of Cinematography Camerimage, in Poland.

This is a tremendous honour for me, because Camerimage is the most internationally recognised festival dedicated to the art of cinematography.

I’ve been to the festival two years in a row with friends from film school, but to now have my film shown at the festival is truly a privilege, and I am delighted, to say the least!

Is there anyone locally in the art or film scene that you look to for inspiration? What other filmmakers do you look up to?

I first went to Camerimage in November, 2018. I was sitting in the audience in a packed-out seminar room, full to the brim with people who all came to listen to a cinematography panel discussion.

On stage were six cinematographers who, among them, had shot an array of Hollywood blockbusters.

As the moderator introduced each person, one by one, we got to the fourth person across and when he spoke I was pleasantly surprised.

His name was Seamus McGarvey – he had shot many well-known and highly regarded films, such as 'Atonement', 'Anna Karenina', 'The Greatest Showman'.

McGarvey is originally from Armagh, and while surrounded by an audience full of international faces and voices, it was inspiring to hear a familiar accent on stage.

It taught me that people from our region can become internationally recognised.

During the pre-production stage of my final year degree film, 'Sisters', the film 'Atonement' – made by McGarvey – was a significant influence on my work.

Visually, I was struck by how strong sunlight was depicted in the film, combined with a filter that softens the edges in the image.

This combination created a look that made a huge impact on me when I first saw the film.

What is your latest film about?

The plot of 'Sisters' goes something like this. Meabh, a spirited 15-year-old, shields her two younger sisters, Lucy and Aine, from the ongoing neglect and abuse they are experiencing in their Catholic Children’s Home by telling them transcendent Irish fairy tales.

Desperate to protect them, Meabh takes the blame for her sister’s rule-breaking, resulting in severe punishment from the head nun, Sister Joan.

Fearful her sisters will be adopted by another family without her, Meabh plots an escape.

What is your genre of filmmaking?

It is too early in my career to restrict myself into one genre of filmmaking, I am keen to explore different approaches and embrace new challenges.

So far, I have found shooting narrative-drive or drama films rewarding.

As long as the story is strong, and grabs me, or I can relate to it in some way, I’m interested.

I like to make films about people; stories with emotional elements that I can tap into.

The best films are stories that make us feel connected as humans. That could be as simple as the relationship between family as depicted in 'Sisters', in that case, Meabh’s love and protection for her younger siblings.

What is the inspiration behind your filmmaking?

Inspiration can come from anywhere. Mostly it's from movies and photographs, looking at what the masters of the craft have done, taking notes and applying it in my own work.

Inspiration can also come from a more abstract place, such as from music, memories or even from crisp, morning light flooding into the kitchen.

What is it like to work on a film set?

Working on a film set is quite bizarre and intense to begin with. There’re a lot people running around and it can be quite intimidating, until you realise that’s like a mechanism inside an old clock – each person is a gear in the clock case.

Everyone has their job to focus on, be it directing, setting up lights or camera, recording sound, dressing the set, hair and make-up, looking after actors, or getting coffee!

Eventually, you get into the swing of things, you know where you fit, and the clock starts ticking.

By the time three or four weeks pass, you get to know everyone, and get into a routine.

By the time the filming is done (at the wrap), the crew is like one big family – and then it’s on to the next one.

Do you use any other art forms?

I did A-level Art and Design at Portora, and like to paint in oils. In first year at Dun Laoghaire, I had a 35mm photography module that introduced me to using a darkroom, where I developed my own black and white film and printed photographs.

Shooting on film, rather than digital, forces the user to slow down and think about why and how they’re taking photographs, not to mention it was crucial in the development of my understanding of exposing a photograph, which then directly carries across into exposing an image in filmmaking.

Hopes for the future?

In the future, I hope to become a full-time cinematographer, working as Director of Photography on different projects.

In the meantime, I am very happy working as an assistant, gaining experience, experimenting, and learning from others, all of which is very important to inform the craft of cinematography.