Call Out for YMVC – Youth Music Video Competition 2021

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Calling ambitious young filmmakers aged 18-23 for a unique opportunity to kick-start your career as a director!


First Cut! Youth Film Festival, in partnership with Feel Good Lost, is delighted to announce that submissions are now open for the sixth edition of the YMVC – Youth Music Video Competition!

The annual competition will once again offer five emerging directors the opportunity to create a music video for an up-and-coming Irish act under the mentorship of noted director Brendan Canty (Smuggler, Antidote, Feel Good Lost) and to screen it at First Cut! Youth Film Festival. The 2021 festival events will take place between April 17th and May 9th 2021. YMVC is open nationally and invites applications NOW! 

Submissions are due by 5pm, Monday 4th January 2021

The YMVC competition is open to filmmakers between the ages of 18 and 23 working in any style, be it narrative or experimental, live-action or animation, or any combination of these. Five filmmakers are selected by the Feel Good Lost mentors to participate and create a YMVC video.

Videos by the previous winners were released by Pillow Queens, CMAT, Kobina, Ryan Vail, ADT, Le Galaxie, aboveDat, The Academic, and Meltybrains. Past participants have seen huge industry successes: Lochlainn McKenna has directed videos for Daithí, Westlife and Keane, and Christian Tierney has gone on to work with artists like Rihanna, Niall Horan, The Jonas Brothers, Hozier, Haailee Steinfeld and more, and has been featured by MTV, Vogue and the New York Times.

To enter, email the following to before 5pm, Monday 4th January 2021:

  • Write 200 words telling us about you, your background, and why you want to be a filmmaker.
  • Send us a link to your best piece of work to-date. We’re looking for your unique voice as a director – submit something that best represents your style and a clear vision.
  • Include your email address, phone number and your date of birth.
  • Tell us where you heard about YMVC.

You can apply on your own or as a pair!

The selected filmmakers will (COVID-permitting) take part in a day-long intensive music video workshop with Brendan Canty and Lochlainn McKenna in Cork on Saturday 16th January. In the event of increased restrictions in early 2021, this workshop will be moved online. Participants must be able to attend this workshop. 

Pillow Queens (Ragin’) – Directed by Daragh Goan


The Process:

Using his extensive knowledge of the Irish music scene and network of musicians, Brendan Canty carefully pairs a track from an up and coming musical artist to a participating director based on their style. Briefs are tailor made for each director, with input from the artists. So far acts such as Pillow Queens, Ye Vagabonds, CMAT, All Tvvins, Kobina, Ryan Vail, Le Galaxie, Tim Chadwick, Daithí, Meltybrains and The Academic have submitted tracks. YMVC is open to music videos of any style, be it narrative or experimental, live action or animation, or any combination of these.

The process that each participating filmmaker will experience is identical to the process a professional filmmaker goes through in making a music video in the industry. Each filmmaker will submit a treatment document explaining their idea and, with on-going mentoring and support from Brendan Canty and his team, they make the video. In addition to gaining an amazing video for their reel, the competition helps directors build confidence and improve in areas of their work that need development.

YMVC 2020 winning video: Even The Sun Don’t Shine On Lonely Hearts In Shadow (ADT), Directed by Richard Harvey


I was over the moon when I won the award. The announcement and the discussion taking place online helped me get a lot of attention. I’m now already working on three music videos off the back of winning and I’m determined to keep working towards becoming a full-time director. Overall, I think taking part in the festival was an invaluable experience that came around at the perfect time for me in my career. I’d highly recommend it to anyone who’s young and passionate about filmmaking.

– Richard Harvey, 2020 YMVC winner


All five videos will be screened at the First Cut! Festival in May 2021. One stand-out filmmaker will be presented with an award. Once the video is finished, the artist will decide if they want to use it as the official video for their track. The goal is for the artist to get a music video that they are happy with, and for the director to get high quality video for their reel. But either way, it’s a win / win situation for everyone.

2019 YMVC winner: Shogani (Kobina), Directed by Elena Horgan


The Team:

Brendan Canty has forged his way as one of the most exciting and prolific Irish directors to watch. His early career enjoyed large success with his video for Hozier’s ‘Take Me to Church’ (which has since surpassed 700million views on Youtube along with two MTV VMA nominations), since then Brendan has gone on to direct consistently elegant and visually stunning music videos for top international artists. In 2017 Brendan directed ‘For You’ (starring Barry Keoghan) which went on to win a Kinsale Shark and was nominated for an IFTA. In 2019, Brendan directed a second short film – ‘Christy’ – funded through Screen Ireland, which he’s currently developing as a feature with BBC Films and Scott Free.

Lochlainn McKenna (A.K.A Locky) is a music video and commercials director from Cork. He was the 2017 winner of YMVC and that success propelled him to win 5 Kinsale Shark Awards in the next 3 years, including: Best New Director, Best Low Budget Music Video (x2), Best Editing and Best Cinematography. In 2018, Locky won two Emerging Director Awards, and his video for Daithí received a Vimeo Staff Pick. Another collaboration with Daithí led to a prestigious nomination at the 2019 UK Music Video Awards. Locky has worked with world renowned acts such as Westlife and Keane. Commercially he has directed TV commercials and online content for brands such as Heineken, Toyota, Aldi and Sky.