Meet Michael Antonio Keane – an actor and filmmaker on the rise

This Spanish-Irish 20-year-old has already had some success breaking into the competitive world of cinema

Michael Antonio Keane at the beach. Photo: Patryk Goron

Michael Antonio Keane, from Cork, currently lives in Smithfield and studies filmmaking at the National Film School, part of IADT in Dun Laoghaire. Michael is getting a lot of attention thanks to his acting, directing and screenwriting at just 20 years old.

He has already won awards, starting in 2020 with the Spirit Award at the Annual IFTA and BAFTA Qualifying IndieCork Film Festival, for his performance in the Amazon Prime Short Film Covid Éire.

Last year, he wrote, directed and acted in his own short film, Like a bolt from the blue – about an unplanned pregnancy that changes the lives of a Dublin teenage couple forever.

For this, he was nominated for Ireland’s Young Filmmaker of the Year 2023 at the Fresh International Film Festival in Limerick. Moreover, in June 2023 the movie won him a Jury Award at the Student World Impact Film Festival in US and was shortlisted for Best Drama at the 2023 All American High School Film Festival.

His most recent film, which he again wrote, directed and acted in, was filmed entirely in Italy. Called Dolce Far Niente, it’s about a young Irish writer who goes to Italy to find tranquility in his life after experiencing heartache.

Poster for “Dolce Far Niente”

The busy young filmmaker found some time to talk to The Liberty about his career and his perspective on filmmaking.

When did you first find your passion for movies Michael?
I’ve always been interested in cameras and pieces like that. So, I guess from a young age, I developed an interest for taking footage of candid moments of my life and both things and people around me. Those aspects really influenced me to write and direct films on that. I always say that my short films are a time capsule for what I’m going through, and it really does show in the work that I produce.

What or who did inspire you to become a filmmaker then?
For me, the most inspiring thing to become a filmmaker were situations and things I’ve been through. Not so much a person, but more so certain life events and things that were happening that I based my stories on. In the end, I found that I was able to express my feelings and emotions through film and cinema for that matter. So that really helped me.

You not only direct your movies but you also write scripts for them. Hence my next question, how long does it take you to write a script for your film?
For myself, writing scripts can take weeks, because I like to get an opinion from different people. I mean fresh perspectives always help so people I ask for an opinion look at the script and say for example: this won’t work, this is believable or this is doable. All in all, the whole process is quite long due to me gathering different opinions and then merging something together that is the midpoint of all that.”

You have starred in plethora of movies already so can you tell us how does the whole process of auditioning look like?
“The process of auditioning is a very tedious. It’s also quite long and competitive and it’s just something that you have to master. I mean, you don’t really fully get it until at least doing it for eight times. You just have to get used to it, that’s all. Absolutely essential thing is that you shouldn’t fear rejection because you’re just not right for that role. It’s not that you’re bad, you’re not right. So, overall, I’d say that practice and persistence are core values to be successful in auditions.

How about higher education then – do you think it is necessary to graduate from film college to be in movie industry?
I don’t believe it’s necessary at all. I think it’s more an opportunity to network and get to meet minded people passionate about similar things, but also to gain some experience by being around them. So, I’d say that it’s an opportunity to be collaborative and to collaborate. Moreover, I think that college is a safe space, where you are allowed to make mistakes and learn from them. It’s kind of a safety net also, where you may be able to grow within a class and grow from zero to as big as you can.

You are still very young and passionate, so what is your biggest dream for the nearest future?
My biggest dream would be to make a feature film that would move a lot of people in a positive way. I’d like to both write and direct a long feature film that would be quite impactful in the world. I mean a story that could have an impact on how everyone sees the world, maybe even a cult classic, that would be awesome.

Do you consider yourself as a lucky person?
Yeah, absolutely, I would consider myself as a lucky person mainly because I get to do what I love every day and no two days are the same. I feel like my job is very much an enjoyable one and a rewarding one in all aspects of life.

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