Remote Strutting: Making Ground-breaking Films on the Western Front

Remote Strutting Team Interview Banner
Remote Strutting Team Interview Banner



Date posted:



  • funding
  • Galway Film Fleadh
  • mentorship
  • Premiere
  • Remote Strutting
  • RTÉ Short Film Commission


On meeting the core Remote Strutting team for interview, their passion for filmmaking is telling straight away, and the excitement is palpable as this hardworking team prepares to premiere their gorgeous short film at the 2024 Galway Film Fleadh this week. 

As a result of winning the Ardán/ RTÉ Short Film Commission in 2023, writer Ruaidhrí Hallinan, producers Brian and Emer Durcan (Western Front Studios), and director Lorna Fitzsimons went on to create an enchanting short film in Westport. In Remote Strutting we meet Mia, who – while facing a specific challenge – works remotely in software development and is all the time imagining the lively office she works in in her mind’s eye. The story explores the importance of connection with consideration for difference. 

Taking inspiration from what you know, and taking it further on the page 

This is only Ruaidhrí Hallinan’s second venture into writing for screen, having gotten into scriptwriting during lockdown. Working remotely himself in tech since pre-pandemic, the subject matter isn’t too far from home. Ruaidhrí sat down to write a story about working remotely and the personas that people often sell online. The world took shape from scenarios he had experienced, and the challenge of impersonal interactions.  

With the core idea already on paper, Ruaidhrí’s friend Eamonn encouraged him to pitch the idea at the 2023 Commission Info Day in Galway. He did, and pitching the idea inspired Ruaidhrí to go home and write a third draft. It was then on to making phone calls to producers. 

Forming a collective: putting together the right crew and cast 

Ruaidhrí’s friend recommended Brian Durcan as a producer and DOP. It was Brian who recommended Lorna Fitzsimons as a director, having worked with her previously, after hearing the story. To Lorna, he recommended Emer as producer, while Brian would work mainly as DOP. Emer Durcan, the other half of the Western Front Studios production team, was mid-pregnancy while the team was forming, even writing up budgets in the delivery suite.  

Emer comments on the collective effort of the whole team from the very start, with Ruaidhrí providing lookbooks for the cast, editing the script on the go, and Brian and Ruaidhrí hands on with the tech side as the importance of the motion graphics became apparent. It was very important to Lorna that the lead be a Deaf actor, so casting director Shauna Griffith threw the net wide to get the right person. Lorna was drawn to the energy and brightness of the script, and they were fortunate to find Lisa Kelly, a Belfast-born actress for the role. Although the casting required a rewrite for Ruaidhrí, as the original screenplay had a male lead, they all agreed that it was the best decision. 

How to make a short film with a difference on a budget – prep is key 

As Lorna noted, when the budget and time is tight, and you have a large cast and crew on your hands, your only option to do the job well is a ton of prep. She counted 45 cast and crew at one point. They really appreciated the efforts made by Ardán’s project coordinator Kenny Gaughan to get contracts and mentorships, etc. in place for the Commission. The team were very fortunate to be given the run of the PortWest offices in Westport, which allowed for a bright, open set which Caroline Hill brought to life. There was a special mention for Craig Kenny (Coach) the 1st AD on set, who made sure that everything was captured within the three-day shoot. And the support they received from mentors Mark O’Halloran, Dearbhla Walsh and Martina Niland, was noted as being a gamechanger. 

Working in an ISL (Irish Sign Language) environment was new for the whole team, so they did their work to prepare for set. From the start, Lorna and Emer met with members of the Irish Deaf Society in Dublin to get their input. They were lucky to find Ciara Flatley locally, who worked as interpreter between Lorna and Lisa, and even ended up playing the interpreter on screen. As Emer notes, Ciara turned up knowing the whole script by heart, gave 100% and was key to keeping everyone moving throughout the day on set.  

The team also brought in an ISL monitor – to ensure the flow and accuracy of the sign language being used on screen during the shoot, and they were able to cast another great Deaf actor they had met – Emma Barrow – in a role. There were a couple of crew members who also signed ISL, so at one point there was a group of people signing away to each other on set, which Emer noted was cool to witness. 

“We are not disabled – it’s the world that’s disabling us” 

Lisa Kelly loved working on Remote Strutting for a few reasons, the main one being it was her first acting job in her home country. While currently London-based, Lisa’s Dad is from Galway, so the draw to work in the West of Ireland was there. She also felt the script was fitting, and explored real challenges many Deaf people face in the workplace. Working from home can provide comfort if you’re Deaf, away from the usual communication barriers with colleagues who cannot adapt, but it can also be lonely.  

Lisa notes that there are more opportunities becoming available in the UK for Deaf actors. There are also more opportunities for Deaf professionals behind the screen, such as BSL (British Sign Language) consultants, 1st ADs, directors, DOPs, and producers. Currently, there are about five major productions in the UK for mainstream channels. Lisa would love to see the same happening in Ireland. As well as that, Lisa would also love to see more productions having Deaf actors with real stories, “because we are real humans outside of our ‘ears’. We do fall in and out of love, we mess up sometimes and we have friends, families, hobbies and jobs.” 

The Film Fleadh as a key launchpad and working in the West 

The run up to the Fleadh hasn’t been quiet for any of the team, as they juggle families and other work, while getting Remote Strutting on the festival circuit and in front of audiences. But festivals are an important place to showcase your work when you make a short film. Brian noted that filming in Westport was the best decision for the film. They were fortunate to cast celebrated local talent Sheila Moylette, well-known national talent John Cronin and Bryan Baker, and promising Irish talent Dane Whyte O’Hara. 

The team was delighted to be chosen to feature at the 36th Galway Film Fleadh, and many of the cast and crew will be there for the premiere of Remote Strutting. Ruaidhrí will be attending as many shorts as possible, he finds the week very inspiring for his own work and a great way to make connections. Lorna is looking forward to the premiere and to participating in the Stowe Story Labs workshop with her screenplay. Brian and Emer – having been through the festival circuit before – note the Fleadh as being an important launch pad on the Irish festival calendar for short filmmakers. They look forward to continuing to work in the West, with the increasing list of talented cast and crew that are coming up through the ranks, and to Western Front Studios being part of the growing number of production companies based here and making work in the West. 

Book your tickets here to watch Remote Strutting on Thursday, July 11th, at 12 noon at the Town Hall Theatre.   

To find out more about the next round of the Ardán/ RTÉ Shorts Commission email Subscribe to the Ardán monthly newsletter to keep up to date on training, funding and mentorship opportunities as they come in.