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John Farrelly Set to Release Debut Feature Film, ‘The Sleep Experiment’

John Farrelly, the winner of Ireland’s Young Filmmaker of the Year 2018, is set to release his first feature film, ‘The Sleep Experiment,’ Picture: Cian Reinhardt/ilovelimerick. 

John Farrelly, winner of Fresh Film Festival 2018, set to release debut feature film

John Farrelly, a previous winner of both the Junior and Senior competition titles of Ireland’s Young Senior Filmmaker of the Year has filmed his first feature-length film, ‘The Sleep Experiment’, which he will be released later this year. John won Ireland’s Young Senior Filmmaker of the Year at the Fresh Film Festival with his short film ‘Choice’ in 2018.

Since winning Ireland’s Young Senior Filmmaker of the Year at the Fresh Film Festival with his short film ‘Choice’ in 2018, John has earned international success winning Best International Film at the Up to 21 Film Festival 2018 in Poland. ‘Choice’ was also shortlisted for Best Screenplay at the Odense Film Festival 2018 and nominated for Best Film at the Wales Young Filmmaker Film Festival 2018.



John is from Co Down and has become one of Ireland’s most promising up and coming filmmakers. 

John got into filmmaking from an early age, at just five years old saying, “My love for filmmaking began when I was 5 when I created videos with my mums’ phone. I used to write short stories every Friday when I got home from school and I decided to turn these stories into short films. When I was 8 years old I created a YouTube Channel and began creating animations. By the time I was 11 I had received my first paycheck from Google for ad-revenue on my videos. Since then the channel has grown substantially with receiving combined views of over 15 million views.”

John entered Ireland’s Young Filmmaker of the Year awards at Fresh Film Festival when he was eleven and came second in the Juniors category, but he did win it the following year when he was twelve. He went on to compete in the Seniors category when he was thirteen and came second again, which is quite impressive as he was competing against nineteen-year-olds and became the first person to do that well for his age. 

At age 17, he made his short film ‘Choice’ which was inspired by his experiences of being bullied at school. He had moved schools and some kids at the new school found his films online and he was so badly bullied that he stopped making films for many years. Last year, he finally found the strength to give filmmaking, his passion, a go again. “The film reflects my feeling of needing to take control and the subject matter focuses on how the mind works in a nature vs nurture experiment,” expressed John.

‘Choice’ is a sci-fi film which focuses on a journey of self-discovery for a young boy, but all is not what it seems. John spoke openly about his experiences recently at a film festival in Denmark and at the Irish Film Institute recently as he felt it may help other young filmmakers.

After going on to win Ireland’s Young Filmmaker of The Year with “Choice” in 2018, John now has his first feature film ‘The Sleep Experiment’ debuting later this year.

John commented, “With all the positive feedback from my short film ‘Choice’, I decided to step up my game and write a feature film called ‘The Sleep Experiment’, which is a psychological thriller about 5 men who are kept awake for 30 days in an unethical experiment.”

John had struggles bringing the film to life, “I was unable to generate any external funding, so I knew I had to fund it myself. I worked very hard over the summer of 2018 and between savings and prize money I accumulated £5,000 which I used to fund the production.”

“It was an amazing experience and it taught me discipline and how to work with a team under a tight schedule. In September 2018, the trailer for ‘The Sleep Experiment’ was released and it went viral within hours, reaching 1 million views in 5 days. It is currently at 5.3 million views on Facebook alone, making it is the most viewed Irish film trailer of all time,” he added. 

the sleep experiment

John Farrelly, 18, winner of Ireland’s Young Filmmaker of the Year Senior Award 2018 pictured with Jayne Foley, Founder and Creative Director of Fresh Film Festival, Picture: Cian Reinhardt/ilovelimerick

Now in its twenty-second year, Fresh Film Festival encourages young people from Ireland and overseas, aged 7 to 18 years, to create, exhibit and share films.  The festival provides an opportunity for these young filmmakers to see their work on the big screen and to compete for the title of Ireland’s Young Filmmaker of the Year and to win €1000 towards their next film.  All films submitted are also considered for a range of Specialist Awards including the Radharc Trust Award for documentaries, the Boulder Media Animation Award, the RTE 60 Second Short Film Award, the TG4 Film in the Irish Language award and the RTE Factual Award, in addition to the International and Audience awards.

The Heats for the competition begin Tuesday, March 5 in the Belltable Arts Centre, Limerick, followed by Wednesday, March 6 in the IFI and Odeon cinemas in Dublin, Thursday, March 7 in the Triskel Arts Centre, Cork and Wednesday, March 13 in the Town Theatre Hall in Galway.

The Festival itself runs from March 25 – 30 with the finals for the Juniors on Wednesday, March 27 and the finals for the Seniors on Thursday, March 28 in the Odeon, Castletroy Shopping Centre, Limerick.

For more information on the Fresh Film Festival, email [email protected].

For more information on the Fresh Film Festival, go here. 

For more stories on the Fresh Film Festival, go here.

For more stories on John Farrelly, go here.

Richard is a presenter, producer, songwriter and actor. He was named the Limerick Person of the Year (2011) and won an online award at the Metro Éireann Media and Multicultural Awards (2011) for promoting multi-culturalism online. Richard says that the concept is very much a community driven project that aims to document life in Limerick. So, that in 20 years time people can look back and remember the events that were making the headlines.