TG4 Finné Producer Aisling Ní Fhlaitheatha on Escaping Her Comfort Zone
An Exciting Departure:
After four and a half years of documentary making for the Finné series on TG4, television producer Aisling Ní Fhlaitheatha is stepping away from her comfort zone and branching out on her own. Inspired by her parent’s work ethic and entrepreneurial spirit, she has said goodbye to her role with Tua Films to embark on a new freelance journey.
“It’s terrifying,” she says. “But my biggest fear is that I will get too comfortable somewhere. I’m nervous but I’m excited too. I’ve watched my parents build their business at the age of 24 and they still work really hard for what they want to this day. I’ve always really admired that.”
Hard Hitting Documentary Making:
The hard hitting Finné series on TG4 originally set out to focus on gross miscarriages of justice in Ireland’s recent past.
As it evolved, the episodes unveiled the personal testimonies of those who had been through trying events.
Above all, it gave them a voice and a platform to share their stories. Ultimately, in her role as a TV producer, Aisling has been a key part of the TG4 team. Together, they have shone light on those living with the reality of murder, addiction, loss, abuse, and wrongful conviction.
Significantly, they have captured the core issues at the heart of Irish society, through the voices of those involved.
“The strength they have is mind blowing,” explains Aisling as she looks back on her time with the TG4 series. “They are so brave and heroic. We are asking a lot of them to put themselves out there. From press and publicity to the impact speaking out can have on their family, it’s a lot. At they end of the day, I’m so grateful they spoke to us so candidly. Essentially, their hope is that they can help even one person. In fairness, the issues are pretty tough and hard. But believe it or not, we do have fun behind the scenes too.”
For that short window of filming, Aisling and the TG4 Finné team become an intricate part of the participants’ life. As a result, it is something that will stay with her for a lifetime.
“You get to know them so well,” she says. “In the end, they have a reason for speaking out. Whether to highlight an issue or simply because it is cathartic, it is important to them to share their story. Thankfully, I have made good friends through my work with Finné and TG4. Even if I can’t relate to what they have been through on a personal level, we do make a strong connection.”
“One that has stayed with me is the very first episode with Martin Conmey from Rathoath in Co. Meath. He had been wrongly
convicted for the manslaughter of Una Lynskey in 1971 and had spent years trying to clear his name. He received a miscarriage of justice certificate and an apology from the state”.
Time to Say Goodbye:
Aisling found it hard to say goodbye to the crew at Tua Films. In many ways, they have been instrumental in carving her career as a Galway based TV Producer. Previously, she worked for GAA Beo and Laochra Gael on TG4 “without knowing the difference between a hurley and a sliotar”. Before that, she was fortunate to work with a TV station in Chicago, USA.
“While they were delighted for me when I opted to go freelance as the next step” she says, “I was bawling when I left.”
She once took her father’s advice to take the role at Tua Films. Now, she is following in her parents’ footsteps by venturing out on her own. “My father advised me to work with a smaller company as you get so much more experience. I have to say he was right. To highlight this, the minute I walked in the door I was given every opportunity and more. Fortunately, I have worked with the same team since the beginning of Finné. Equally important, I am such a tiny cog in the wheel
Music and Enterprise:
Originally from the Aran Islands, Aisling’s parents run the popular Joe Wattys on Inis Mór. In particular, she has been inspired by her parents’ determination to succeed in the hospitality sector.
Additionally, she has drawn from the business acumen of her musical brothers – voice trainer Cathal who runs the Galway Voice Studio – and bilingual singer songwriter Padraig Jack.
Undeniably, musical talent runs in the family. Her cousin Rónán Ó Flaithearta is part of famous Galway band Rofi James.
“I’ve always really admired how they build their own business,” she explains. Moreover, if they have the power to change something, they can and will. Above all, I’ve learned over the years there is a solution to any problem. Realistically, if you are willing to work, you can get the work done.
A Love for the Irish Language:
Aisling’s love for the Irish language has followed her throughout her career. Through it, she has discovered where her true passion lies.
“I am so fortunate beyond belief,” she says. “At least 99.9% of the work I do as a Galway based TV Producer is through the Irish language. Without it, I would not have found Finné. And with it, my love for human interest stories and documentary making.”