Meet the ‘Legends of the Lighthouse’ filmmakers

Meet the ‘Legends of the Lighthouse’ filmmakers

Back in summer 2019, we launched the exciting Great Lighthouses of Ireland Film Bursary. 

Funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), in partnership with Tourism Northern Ireland and the Department for Communities Historic Environment Division to mark the European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018 (EYCH); the bursary’s aim was to showcase the wealth of heritage and unique communities around Northern Ireland’s stunning lighthouses.

Taking the theme ‘Legends of the Lighthouse’ as inspiration, we sought submissions from filmmakers the world over to create a short film about some of Northern Ireland’s captivating lighthouses/lighthouse attractions. The three lighthouses covered under the bursary were Rathlin Island, Co. Antrim; Blackhead, Co. Antrim; St John’s Point, Co. Down; as well as The Great Light optic in Belfast.

Since September, our bursary recipients have been busy filming and perfecting their creations with the final works set to be unveiled at a launch this December – so watch this space… 

In the meantime, let’s meet the talented filmmakers!


Rupert Shanks & Yvonne Gordon | St John’s Point Lighthouse, Co. Down


A photographer and filmmaker based in the Scottish Highlands, Rupert Shanks has worked mainly in the adventure travel industry. A teller of visual stories about places and people, Rupert always aims to light up the world and how we see each other. His love of lighthouses may be quite new but now certainly runs deep. Having been lucky enough to work with travel brands such as National Geographic Adventures, Guardian Travel and Wilderness Scotland, Rupert can often be found up a mountain or floating about in the sea. 

Yvonne Gordon is an award-winning writer, photographer and adventure storyteller whose work appears in publications like The Irish Independent, The Sunday Times, The Guardian, The Boston Globe,, Outside and The Washington Post. She was shortlisted in the AITO Travel Writer Of The Year Award (UK) 2018 and was awarded Travel Writer Of The Year (Ireland) 2016. She has made features and documentaries for RTÉ Radio and was location reporter for Radio 1 Seascapes. An experienced sailor, she has a passion for all things maritime and has told stories about lighthouses in The Guardian, The Irish Times, The Sunday Times and Cara magazine and is delighted to help tell the story of this lighthouse through film.



Rupert and Yvonne teamed up for the filmmaking bursary, setting their sights on Co Down’s exquisite St John’s Point Lighthouse and the people who’ve fallen under its spell. 



Emma Zukovic | The Great Light, Belfast City


A visual artist and filmmaker based in the west of Ireland, Emma Zukovic’s chosen maritime gem is Belfast’s Great Light. After completing an honours degree in fine art at Limerick School of Art & Design, Emma exhibited extensively both nationally and internationally and has won awards for her films in Canada, England, Macedonia, Ukraine, Italy and Russia. Establishing her career around a form of storytelling that’s relatable and moving, Emma constructs a narrative that’s romanticised and nostalgic to the viewer.


Emma Zukovic film still


Emma’s film showcases the majesty, history and heritage that surrounds The Great Light, from its French origins to its place today.



Lawrence Eagling & Tasha Philips | Rathlin West Light, Co. Antrim


Lawrence and Tasha are the documentary film-making duo behind Swimming Head Productions. Based by the Belfast shores of the wild Irish Sea, the pair were brought together through careers in marine biology. Their shared love of the outdoors has developed into a passion for telling stories about the natural world and their connection with it. Swimming Head Productions focuses on quick-fire, short films; from showcasing new conservation research protecting endangered wildlife worldwide, to exploring local tales of smuggling, wrecks and lighthouses along the Irish coast.


Rathlin West Light, Swimming Head still


Their film on Rathlin Island, Co. Antrim’s storied West Light reflects on 100 years of this captivating cliff-edge lighthouse.



Hugh Sweeney | Blackhead Lighthouse, Co. Antrim


Galway-based filmmaker and photographer Hugh Sweeney started out in the field of fine art and worked in the graphics industry as a designer and manufacturer for 15 years. After starting to make short films as a hobby in 2010, Hugh then made the leap and turned his hobby into his career.

He now works as a full-time videographer and photographer focusing on providing high-quality striking visuals for all kinds of companies across Ireland and overseas. As well as commercial work projects, Hugh continues to produce his own content and has a popular YouTube channel dedicated to his own work, as well as to the art of filmmaking itself. Hugh also has a keen interest in the outdoors and nature and has found that his love of filmmaking has brought him even closer to it.


Hugh Sweeney film still


Hugh’s short film centres around idyllic Blackhead Lighthouse, Co. Antrim, capturing the beauty of the lighthouse and the local environment with a historical eye.



Nathalie Baker | Rathlin Island, Co. Antrim


A self-taught videographer based in London, Nathalie has been working as a freelance filmmaker there for the past two years. From filming rock band Fall Out Boy having a food fight, to wading fully clothed into the sea in December to get that ‘perfect shot’, Nathalie loves that filming is never boring and gives you the opportunity to capture incredible stories and places, wherever you go. 


Nathalie Baker film still


After a successful screening of her first documentary short  in a London cinema, Nathalie jumped at the chance to join the Great Lighthouses of Ireland film bursary project. Her short film showcases the unique pace of life on and the sheer beauty of Rathlin Island, Co. Antrim. 


Stay tuned for ways to watch these five fantastic short films once they’re officially launched in December. 

For more behind the scenes insight into the filmmakers’ lighthouse journeys, follow our social channels: Twitter @gtlighthouses, Facebook @greatlighthousesofireland and Instagram @greatlighthouses

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