The Youth Music Video Competition (YMVC) is Ireland’s singular mentorship programme for emerging directors aged 18-25. Each year, ten talented filmmakers are selected to make a music video for an up and coming Irish act. The programme mirrors the process a professional filmmaker goes through to make a music video.

Each filmmaker is paired with a track, given a brief, and then submits a treatment explaining their idea. With on-going mentoring and support, they direct their music video. The musicians then decide if they want to use it as the official video for their track.

YMVC is an annual highlight of First Cut! Youth Film Festival, where the videos created through the programme are premiered and an award is presented for Best Music Video. Since 2016, First Cut! has been partnering with cutting edge director Brendan Canty to mentor young emerging filmmakers based in Ireland in creating music videos. 2023 saw acclaimed directors Bob Gallagher, Kate Dolan and Tara O’Callaghan join the mentoring team.

Canty explained the reasons behind this focus on music video: “Short films are a beautiful art form which I urge young filmmakers to keep making. But I strongly encourage them to try their hand at telling these stories or making these visuals through music videos as it is the best and fastest way to learn, develop and get noticed as a young director

With each year, the competition has gone from strength to strength. The number of videos that have become official releases for their track reflects the remarkable quality of the work produced. The directors not only get high quality video for their reel, but build confidence and develop their directing skills.

So far acts such as God Knows, Bantum, Junior Brother, Pillow Queens, Ye Vagabonds, CMAT, All Tvvins, Kobina, Ryan Vail, Le Galaxie, Tim Chadwick, Daithí, Meltybrains and The Academic have submitted tracks to the competition.

YMVC has been instrumental in launching the careers of a number of now established directors. Entering the industry with a network of professional connections, many have gone on to work on high profile music videos and commercials. Take 2017 YMVC winner Lochlainn McKenna for example, who went on to direct music videos for Westlife and Keane, as well as commercials for Heineken, Toyota, Aldi and Sky and the acclaimed short Two For the Road. He returned to YMVC as one of the mentors.

In his words: “My journey from entering to winning and then returning as a mentor and speaker has been really amazing. I really wouldn’t be where I am without the festival. I can now call myself one of Ireland’s busiest full-time professional music video directors and it all comes back to First Cut, so, thank you!

First Cut! was able to to expand the scope of YMVC in 2023 thanks to the generous support of an Arts Council YPCE Project Award. 2024 participants will receive stipends of €1,000 toward video production expenses and the winner of the YMVC Best Music Video Award will also receive a €5,000 bursary to kickstart their career!