John Carney (director)

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John Carney
Born 1972 (age 43–44)
Dublin, Ireland
Occupation writer, director

John Carney (born 1972) is an Irish film and TV writer/director who specialises in low-budget indie films. He is best known for his award-winning 2007 movie Once. He is also a co-creator of the Irish TV drama series Bachelors Walk.

Life and career[edit]

Carney was born in Dublin and was educated at Synge Street CBS.[1]

He was bassist for Irish rock band The Frames between 1991 and 1993 and also directed some of their music videos.

In addition to shooting music videos, Carney also wrote and directed two award-winning short films (Shining Star and Hotel) before making his first feature. With fellow film-maker Tom Hall, Carney wrote and directed November Afternoon, his first feature film, in 1996. Despite a limited release, it was acclaimed as the "Film of the Year" by the Irish Times.[2] The low-budget drama, shot in black and white, tells the story of two couples whose relationships begin to crumble over an eventful weekend. Carney himself provided a jazz score for the soundtrack.

After making a one-hour TV companion piece for the film enitled Just in Time, Carney's next film was the edgy drama Park, which premiered at the Dublin Film Festival. Written and co-directed by Carney and Tom Hall once again, the drama about a girl who is abused by a paedophile was released in 1999. It did not secure a wide release.

Two years later, in 2001, he co-wrote and directed On the Edge. The film starred Cillian Murphy and Stephen Rea and was released through Universal Studios. He was awarded the Silver Hitchcock Award for On the Edge at the 2001 Dinard Festival of British Cinema. The film, which was co-written by Daniel James, was released in the USA with the title Catch the Sun.[3]

Carney returned to TV writing and directing during the same year. He co-wrote and co-directed (with his brother Kieran Carney and Tom Hall) the hugely successful RTÉ TV series Bachelors Walk. The independently produced TV series proved the most successful in Irish television history.[4] The series ran for three seasons. He also directs The Modest Adventures of David O Doherty for RTÉ, starring Irish comedian O'Doherty[5] and performed on the single "Orange", released by O'Doherty during the making of one of the series' episodes.

In 2003, he co-directed and co-wrote Zonad with Ciarán Carney and Tom Hall. A story about an escaped convict who fools a whole Irish village into thinking he's a visitor from outer space, the film starred Simon Delaney and Cillian Murphy, Zonad was extremely low-budget and was never released.[6]

In 2006, Carney directed the feature movie Once. A music drama, the movie stars The Frames frontman Glen Hansard and Czech musician Markéta Irglová. First released at the Galway Film Fleadh, Once had its official world release at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2007 and won the World Cinema Audience Award in the category Dramatic.[7] A low-budget affair shot for only $160,000,[8] Once was hugely successful, grossing $7 million worldwide in its first 3 months of release. Legendary film-maker Steven Spielberg is quoted as saying, "Once gave me enough inspiration to last the rest of the year." When told of this during an interview with Sky News, Carney replied, "In the end of the day, he's just a man with a beard." Carney was wearing a beard at the time. As writer and director of Once, Carney won the Most Promising Newcomer award in the Evening Standard British Film Awards 2007.

On the heels of Once's success, Carney was able work on a full-fledged version of Zonad, which was released in March 2010.[6]


Year Film Position Notes
1996 November Afternoon Director, co-writer Limited release
1999 Park Director, co-writer
2001 On the Edge Director, co-writer
2007 Once Director, writer Won the Academy Award for Best Original Song
2009 Zonad Director, co-writer
2013 Begin Again Director, writer Nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Song
2016 Sing Street Director, writer


  1. ^ John Carney goes urban musical Once more
  2. ^ [1] November Afternoon award
  3. ^ On the Edge
  4. ^ Once press release
  5. ^ "The Modest Adventures of David O'Doherty". RTÉ News. 
  6. ^ a b Dawtrey, Adam. "Once director remains close to roots: Carney to make Zonad before Fox's House", Variety, 17 August 2007. Accessed 17 August 2007.
  7. ^ Sundance 2007 winners
  8. ^ Weisman, Jon. "Once Upon a Time", Variety, 18 July 2007. Accessed 11 August 2007.

External links[edit]