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Community Highlights: Meet Mal O’Neill of www.oneillproducer.com

Today we’d like to introduce you to Mal O’Neill.

Hi Mal, we appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us today. Where does your story begin?
I’ve always loved film. Though I never thought it was something I would do for a living. Where I’m from in Ireland, the idea of working in entertainment was far removed from reality. In the small Irish town where I was born, we had to walk a few miles outside town to get to the nearest cinema. It sounds like something from a Roddy Doyle novel, but it was the only way to see the latest movies. I grew up watching all the big Hollywood blockbusters and anything else I could get into, never really thinking that filmmaking was something people did as a career.

I worked in plenty of other jobs while trying to find out what I wanted to do. I paid my way through college by working in factories, bars and restaurants before having an ill-fated career as a journalist. I loved writing stories but realized journalism wasn’t the right path for me. What I’d always dreamed of doing was writing, and that’s how I eventually got my break into the industry. It was winning a scriptwriting competition a few years later that gave me my first bit of experience on a film set and gave me the filmmaking bug. Since then, I’ve been lucky enough to work on many big and small projects with Emmy-winning TV writers and Oscar-winning directors. I even worked on a commercial with Deadpool, which is as cool as it gets. Now I’m a producer of TV commercials and love every last minute of my job.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle-free, but so far would you say the journey has been fairly smooth?

There have been ups and downs for sure. The first big challenge was simply getting work in the film industry. It’s called ‘breaking in’ for a reason. Nobody holds the door open. I’d left University with big ideas that I wanted to make films and soon realized that making coffee was the number one skillset needed for a newcomer on a professional set. It took a few years to establish myself, working for free on short films and low-budget projects to cut my teeth. There were outdoor shoots where I stood in gale-force winds for hours on end and even a pigeon attack on another set that left me with a real appreciation for the on-site medic.

All this experience, good and bad, eventually pushed me down the route of producing. As a producer, the main thing I do is solve problems or get ahead of the problem before it even happens. In every shoot, there are a thousand things that can go wrong – Actors getting trapped at the Mexican border the night before the shoot, trucks filled with expensive gear breaking down in the middle of nowhere and stunt performers nearly meeting their grisly demise. These are just a few of the problems I’ve faced when producing.

Since moving to the USA from the United Kingdom, there’s been a fair share of challenges, but I’m lucky enough to have worked with really talented people here in the Valley. If you know problems will happen, you learn to be prepared and steer the ship in the right direction no matter what. That’s what gets you through even the most challenging times.

As you know, we’re big fans of www.oneillproducer.com. For our readers who might not be as familiar, what can you tell them about it?

We tell stories. It’s the most important part of what we do. I’ve learned that stories need to be told the right way to have an impact. That might be by producing TV campaigns for global brands, getting their message out to the world, or cultivating smaller personal projects with other passionate creatives. And that’s the main aim of my production service company. To help people tell their story through the medium of film.

Our main strength is collaboration. We pair up with brands and work with their aims and values to build creative films that speak in their voice. As creatives, we can run with the big ideas a client has and deliver smart and effective work. And as a service company, we can slot in at any stage in the production process to help brands realize their vision. That means we can take a video production from start to finish, no matter where you are in the process. With video quickly becoming the number one communication tool we use today, it’s essential for brands to partner with video experts. Our services cover all production areas, including creative concept, video marketing, production management, and post-production, from 3D video to color grading. Whether you’re a household name or a tech start-up disruptor, you’ll need top-level video production in the modern marketing world. We have all the tools you need to tell your stories better. Nice and simple.

Do you have recommendations for books, apps, blogs, etc.?

At heart, I’m a film geek. So I’ll read, listen and watch anything related to filmmaking. One podcast I recently binged was ‘Team Deakins,’ which Oscar-winning cinematographer Roger Deakins presents. He talks with people from all levels of the industry, from directors to sound designers and writers. If you love to learn about the art of film, then it’s a great podcast.

I’ve recently been listening to as many true crime podcasts as possible, as I’ve been developing my own podcast with a great production company called Yarn Productions. These are the people who made ‘West Cork’ – an incredible true crime story about the tragic murder of a french filmmaker in Ireland. It’s a story brilliantly told and well worth a listen. I’m looking forward to working with the team next year on our own project based on the Troubles in Northern Ireland.

I’m all about growth, so I always look for inspirational podcasts and books to help my career. One great marketing podcast is ‘Everyone Hates Marketers. Don’t let the title fool you. It’s a great resource for the modern business owner or advertiser looking to enhance their marketing skills and avoid the spammy techniques we all hate. My wife, Alaina, has told me to read ‘Unf*ck Yourself’ by Gary John Bishop, so that’s next on my reading list this year. It’s a no-nonsense look at how to approach life. We could all do with this kind of help now and again.

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