Megan K. Fox is an award winning Irish Writer/Director based in London. Her short film work focusses on under-represented stories and character studies, usually centred around the female experience. Her films Girl, Slow Down and Calling Home have been award winners and nominees at such prestigious events as the Young Directors Awards Ireland, the Kinsale Sharks, BAFTA qualifying Underwire Film Festival and the Women in Film and TV International Showcase, amongst many others. Her work has been exhibited at the Barbican Centre and the BFI, broadcast on channels including Lifetime TV and London Live, and distributed through a number of VOD platforms.
How did you get into the industry?
As a kid I made sense of life through writing, and loved to read and write poetry and short stories. Telling stories was my passion and the one thing I really wanted to pursue over all else, so when I didn’t get the grades to study English Literature at college level I was devastated. In Ireland there’s a points system based on your final grades when you’re leaving school, and the points needed for English Literature in most of the reputable colleges were off the charts! So I applied for a course called ‘Film, Literature and Drama’ that I had the grades for, and got in. I often think about what would have happened if I’d gone to study Literature, and missed out on the fateful Cinema History classes that sparked my interest and passion for filmmaking. It’s funny how things work out, how I ended up falling completely in love with film on that course as I was exposed to the greats from Georges Méliès and Bergman to Spike Lee and Agnes Varda, and learned that you don’t have to have superhuman skills to make a movie. I endeavored to find out as much as I could about the industry and started getting on sets as an AD or runner, and then crowdfunded to make my first short. The film got me in to my MA course in Film Directing at the Met Film School in London and now I work between the UK and Ireland on short projects, music videos and features in development.
(Stills from 'Calling Home' (2018))
What makes me the best version of myself?
For me, great work is about openness and authenticity. I think that my willingness to share my personal experiences through my films and honesty with my collaborators has led to authentic work and a great sense of catharsis for me personally. In a way the hardest experiences in my life have made me the best version of myself, because they’ve shown me what I can overcome. I’m a big believer in channeling pain in to something positive, creating something beautiful from something ugly. I’ve suffered with depression for many years and while the darker times are really difficult, when I’m feeling strong and positive I often stop and think about the person I’ve become because of that struggle, and the insight it gives me in to the human condition. I wouldn’t exchange the understanding and empathy that I feel for people because of my illness for a clearer mind, I think that some of the strongest people are the ones who have suffered great pain and learned to channel it in to their creative pursuits.
My Biggest Success?
I was really proud to win the award for ‘Best Director Under 25’ at the BAFTA qualifying Underwire Festival in 2016 for my short film Girl. This is a festival that champions female filmmakers and it was such an honour to be recognized for my work alongside some of the most talented women in the UK industry.
My Most Challenging Moment?
In this industry challenging moments are abundant! There are all of the challenges that you face in production, in post, sometimes difficult collaborations (I’ve been very lucky in this respect, actually). For me the most difficult times are in between projects, the uncertainty and fear of losing momentum. It’s hard for anyone who works freelance and has a passion to succeed in the arts, to support yourself both financially and emotionally. There’s a lot of rejection, and at first it’s hard not to take that to heart and begin to devalue yourself. With time you learn to shrug it off but it is always challenging and takes strength to pick yourself back up, to know your worth and keep fighting.
To quote Anais Nin “Good things come to those who hustle”! Keep moving forward, keep believing even when it’s hard as hell and you feel like the world’s trying to shake you off like a flea.
MKF on Set - ''Battle' (2015)
My Favorite People/Role Models?
In terms of role models in the film industry, Andrea Arnold and Amma Asante are big influences of mine and examples of badass, talented women who have worked hard and made it to where they are without compromising themselves or their visions. Matt Haig is a British writer who is another inspiration and role model to me, both for his accessible and enjoyable fictional writing and his candid accounts of living with depression. Anyone who works to remove the stigma associated with mental health issues is an inspiration to me. When it comes to my favorite people I’m lucky to be surrounded by a lot of support from loved ones, and couldn’t be where I am, pursuing my dreams, without my parents who have helped me in every possible way on this journey and never questioned my capability or drive to succeed.
My Favorite Places/Destinations?
The coastline of West Cork is probably one of the most beautiful and spiritual places I’ve ever been. There’s a wildness to it that fills my heart and makes me feel really proud to be Irish, and trust me I’m not usually that patriotic! There’s a wonderful film festival there every year called Fastnet Film Festival, in a tiny town called Schull. It’s one of the highlights of my year and I’d encourage anyone who gets the chance to visit. I love travelling and enjoy both cities and rural nature trips, but I’ve never felt anything like the energy in New York City. Maybe it’s just that rose-tinted vision that visitors have of NY, but I always feel like something is right on the brink of happening when I’m in New York, not on some grand level but in the details. Like all around me there are creative, brilliant people challenging each other, coming up with new ideas or getting their first break. There’s a palpable sense of possibility in the air, and I love the feeling of community that still exists in the city even as it constantly grows and changes.
What's next for me in the near future?
I have some really exciting projects in the pipeline at the moment, including my first feature film which I have a super team attached to. It’s a very personal and hard hitting coming of age story that has been close to my heart for many years. I’m also developing a couple of new shorts, including a bilingual (English and Irish language) film that will be set on the beautiful West Coast of Ireland.
Career advice to those in your industry?
Give yourself time, and learn to accept rejection and process feedback without letting it damage your self-esteem. Just hold on to the reasons why you wanted to become a filmmaker or tell that particular story in the first place and be true to them. Know when you need to take a break and be kind to yourself and the people who support you. And when you are feeling positive, put yourself out there as much as you can and give other filmmakers the same support you hope to receive – remember that, as with most things in life, you get out what you put in.
Stills from 'Calling Home' (2018)