Ailbhe Keogan

Ailbhe started her writing career with her novel Molly & the Cyclops, published by Hag’s Head Press, in 2006. From there, she moved into screenwriting. Her first feature film, Run & Jump was selected as part of the Berlin Talent Campus Script Station and the Sundance Institute’s lab. Directed by Oscar-nominated Steph Green, it premiered at Tribeca in 2012 and the script went on to win numerous awards including a 2014 IFTA nomination and a Zebbie for best screenplay 2014.

Her second feature film, Joy & Mully, is due to go into production in 2018, a co-production between Zentropa Films (Denmark) and Subotica (Ireland) She is currently working on Sidelined, a feature film for Parallel Films and the Irish Film Board. Ailbhe was selected for Guiding Lights 8, the UK film industry’s leading mentoring programme. She was under the mentorship of Alex Garland.

Ailbhe’s short film script, Take Me Swimming, was one of four films to be funded by the Irish Film Board Focus Shorts scheme in 2016 and will premiere at the Cork Film Festival 2017. It stars Barry Ward, Olwin Fouere and B.J. Hogg.  Ailbhe is on the board of the Kerry Film Festival and has worked with the Youth Justice programme for many years in conjunction with KDYS.

Ailbhe lives in the wilds of Kerry with her husband and two kids.

 Can leadership be taught? If so, how?

Hard one. I guess anything can be taught on one level but it can only be taught to someone who wants it. To be honest, I feel slightly awkward fielding these questions, because I’ve realised of late that I am a better ‘right-hand man’ or ‘deputy’ than a leader. I can lead. I remember a teacher pulling me out of class for being disruptive and saying, ‘You’re a natural leader. Use it to do something useful’. But as I get to know myself as I am, rather than the person other people expect me to be,  I find I prefer facilitating someone else. That said, it has to be someone I totally believe in. That segue-way is a roundabout way of saying the best way to teach leadership skills, is to teach people to know their true selves. Natural leaders will then emerge.

If you could wind back the clock to when you were starting your career what advice would you give yourself?

Get your people-pleasing in check. I’m an awful people-pleaser. I’m sick of it and yet I find it’s a habit that is very hard to shake. I desperately want people to like me so I over promise on site at the risk of under-delivering at a later date.

Part of a leaders job is to peer into the future. What changes are you seeing in your field today that will have the biggest impact in the future?

I deal in stories and the delivery platforms for stories are evolving at a rapid pace. Trans-media projects will get more sophisticated as will we, the consuming and hyper-literate public. Complex, multi-strand narratives will be told across a variety of platforms to form a coherent whole. That said, I’m a huge believer in ‘the more things change, the more things stay the same’. There are certain basic tenets of story-telling that we should never lose sight of. As the delivery platforms change, we’ll need to keep sight of them more than ever.

What leaders outside your own organisation do you admire and why?

I like Naomi Klein, Noam Chomsky, John PIlger, Fergal Keane, Colm O’Gorman – People who work hard to bring us the truth in order to remind us that none of us are free until we all are.

What are a few resources (books, blogs, podcasts, courses etc) you would recommend to someone looking to gain insight into becoming a better leader?

Naomi Klein’s NO IS NOT ENOUGH is a good call to resistance, a reminder that we need to lead ourselves when appointed leaders fail us.  One of my favourite podcasts is Desert Island Discs. On one level it’s a lovely way to get to know the person being interviewed but it also reminds us that heros and leaders come in all shapes and sizes. I’m often surprised by the people that inspire me and give me goose-pimples.