Aoife McArdle on making it as a director

From running up late fees at a video rental shop in Dublin to a music video for U2 and an episode of sci-fi TV show Brave New World, director Aoife McArdle has come a long way. Here’s how she did it

“I was always painting and watching old movies as a kid,” says Aoife McArdle, who’s directed ads for Nike, Honda and Under Armour, as well as music videos for Jon Hopkins and Coldplay. “I remember wanting to be a director and wanting to make films, even if I didn’t know what a director was. I remember wanting to make films from about the age of seven, but because I didn’t know anyone that had that type of job, I never thought it was an attainable dream.”

McArdle grew up in Omagh, Northern Ireland, and attended an all-girls convent school where she says students were “cursed to become a teacher, lawyer or doctor” with little encouragement to be artistic. When she mentioned her filmmaking ambitions at school, she was simply told it wasn’t a real job.

However her parents had already introduced her to the world of film with movies such as Taxi Driver and Paris, Texas, which the director says had catapulted her down a rabbit hole of art and independent film – in particular French, Japanese and South Korean directors such as Robert Bresson, Bruno Dumont, Leo Carax, Beat Takeshi and Lee Chang-dong.

JUNIOR GRAPHIC DESIGNER

Milton Keynes