Trinity student shoots feature film centred on student politics

Final year student Hugh McInerney’s current project will adopt the same satirical style as his Trinity Truths webseries, on a much bigger scale

You may have seen final year student Hugh McInerney’s Trinity Truths videos on your Facebook feed from time to time, but his next project takes student satire to another level. State of the Union, a feature film with a growing cast and crew “already in the dozens”, is inspired by the “many parallels between politics and student politics, both obvious and more nuanced, and how they are often extremely similar but with slightly more illegal substances, slightly less corruption and roughly the same amount of hangovers”.

Speaking to Trinity News, McInerney summarised the project: “It’s a mockumentary-style film about a disastrously under-qualified candidate who pretty much applies by accident to run for a student union by-election, and his whole house come together as his makeshift campaign team to keep him in the race, and out of jail.” Having written the script two years ago, being Chair of DU Film in third year gave him the motivation to “do something like it but different, and [he] started Trinity Truths”.

The “satirical webseries” Trinity Truths “takes the mick out of college”, with the episodes released on their Facebook page gathering up to 9,500 views. With titles such as “Kerrygolden Showers” and “The Smoking Ban”, it’s not hard to see why Trinity students enjoy this content. Trinity Truths helped McInerney settle on the style he wanted to make the feature film follow, and after “two years in development hell, as they call it”, it finally got off the ground.

Having made a few short films, this project feels like a natural and exciting progression. “Most experiences in college are quite universal, a lot of things happen to a lot of people. Funnily, after I wrote the script, that year there was actually a massive scandal in the Student Union race which was far more juicy than the film itself, so if I was thinking that stuff in the film couldn’t happen that just wiped it away, as if it was too realistic.”

Will fans of the Trinity Truths series be disappointed? “I’ve described it as the Trinity Truths film, as that’s, in a sense, what it is…You know, like every student film that wants to prove they’re a really professional operation, they have a scene with the same actor in the same scene, but it looks seamless so that’ll be fun to try and do. But I don’t know if I’d do a sequel, a State of the Union 2 so to speak, I just want to get the first one in the can, see if we can get over the line of that one first.”

With the upcoming SU elections, it seems expected that the premiere will align with them. “Hopefully it will be premiering right around SU [election] time and if there’s ever going to be a time people are interested in the SU, it’s during the election, so that could work in our favour too.” He also notes that the premiere will either be in Trinity or a cinema in Dublin.

The process of making a feature film enables both the utilisation of old skills and learning new ones, while still retaining the creative and collaborative spirit of previous projects: “The levels of professionalism changes so much, but even amongst my own productions, because with Trinity Truths, which is probably what has gotten the most views out of all of them, we throw that together so quickly. With short films you’ve got your full day, your cast, your crew, your lights, your shot-list. For Trinity Truths we have a three page script and we just say, sure look we’ve got this one.” But the film will be a different arena altogether: “We’ve got shot-lists, we’ve got lights, cast, crew […] because I wanted it to be the Trinity Truths movie I was a little bit surprised at that at first, but having seen how it’s come out now, we actually did one day of shooting just to test it out and it was the best of both worlds. It looked professional, it looked and sounded great, but also we got a lot done so we’re really happy with that.”

And after the premiere? McInerney is prepared, and his plans outstretch the premiere itself. “I’m going to enter it into festivals and that’s going to be the barometer on how well it could do… I’m excited, I haven’t been to a festival in years and they’re so much fun, and actually having a feature film… I’m not going to say it’s going to be any good, it could be absolutely awful, but even just having it done I’d be happy enough.”

Grace Farrell

Grace Farrell is the current Arts and Culture Editor of Trinity News.