People often ask how we find the stories we film. There are many ways: Sometimes they come recommended from others, sometimes people recommend themselves, and other times we stumble upon them. McGrath’s is one of those. I had been looking for someone in Ireland to show us a recipe on blood pudding using real blood (I know, the vegetarian…). Though blood pudding is a very common dish in this country, it’s not easy to find a person who is making it in the traditional way of using fresh blood, and is also willing to show you their secrets.
Probably the most asked question during our two months in Ireland from farmers and fishermen, chefs and hunters has been, “so what do you think of Trump?” No joke — every single Irish person I’ve talked to for more than 30 seconds has broached the subject. My response always (except once) received a: “Oh thank God, it’s madness isn’t it?!” (the Irish public has been polled on Trump and he only has 6% support here).
Filming the shoot presented a question about what kind of stories we tell in our series and where “sustainable” begins and ends. I’ve always considered our show to be less about the answer, and more about presenting different points of view, and so I was curious to hear the point of view on the ethics of shooting birds for food (and sport).
Perhaps it is the appearance of drone shots in every single video I watch on TV or online. Perhaps it was the money. Perhaps it was the fact that Ireland is a windy and wild place, and the locations where I wanted to film, just can’t handle a drone flight. Perhaps it was a relief to let go of some gear and focus on the filmmaking. When you have a video camera, a still camera, a gopro, an iPhone and a drone, all trying to document what’s around you it ends up being stressful and you lose sight of what you are doing — capturing a real and true story. So drones: you are fun and cool, but at this moment in my filmmaking career, I’m going to wait till you can handle Ireland’s wind.
When we venture out on film shoots without a babysitter, and without Hunter, Daniel and I split up the work: One of us films our intended subject, while the other watches the baby. Last week, Daniel went up the mountain in the Burren with a sheep farmer while James and I stayed back on the farm. Within a few minutes, he had changed into his wellies, and was running through the open fields while the farm dogs trailed behind. For the next couple hours, that farm was a playground. James discovered horse manure, climbed on the tractor, mooed at the cows and stared at awe in the sheep. He fell in mud, and stumbled on the rocky dirt road. He squealed at the cat perched near the warm chimney watching him, and he munched on biscuits and butter made by the farmers wife. He slept the whole ride home and didn’t even realize that he was the luckiest boy in the world.
In Ireland, instead of eating out, we are shopping for great local ingredients, and eating from home. We do however have one large advantage, the airbnb we are staying at happens to have an acre kitchen garden, a dozen apple trees and alpine strawberries growing in the cracks of the various pathways.
Our backdoor opens to a trove of apple trees. Ever since we arrived, I’ve been anxious to take advantage of this amazing bounty and start baking. Unfortunately, the house isn’t yet stocked with the necessary baking supplies (rolling pin, measuring cups, mixing bowls…)
I recently took a little solo trip to Brey, a small coastal town south of Dublin. There I did the “Brey Cliff Walk,” a 6km hike along the ocean that leads you to the neighboring town of Greystones. The next day I went to Glendalough National Park to hike in the Wicklow mountains. At the base of the trail there’s an old monastery (built sometime between 900-1200 A.D) founded by St. Kevin.
Since arriving to Ireland I’d been wanting to have a traditional pub experience. I asked James, the owner of the house where we are staying, (not to be confused with the baby), if there was a good pub to visit in the nearby town of Athy. “What night is it… Thursday?” he asked me. It was. “Oh, go to Clancy’s. You’re in for a treat. There’s music.”
So, Daniel and I went.