Dave Minogue has been out of work for two years. Jobs are scarce in Kilkenny -- and the rest of Ireland. The Central Statistics Office reports that Irish unemployment rate for March 2011 is 14.7%, basically unchanged from the Irish Quarterly National Household Survey's findings for the last quarter of 2010. This is the highest rate of unemployment in Ireland since April 1994.
This week I had a tweet from Dave about his web series entry "Rent a Friend" in the Irish Public Service Broadcaster RTÉ's third annual Storyland web drama episode contest. Dave writes he wants to gain back a bit of pride and self-worth. The contest also offers an opportunity to make an original series within the biggest film industry in Ireland.
Dave is a photographer, writer, and blogger, laid off from a local newspaper.
In 2009 Dave completed a film training FÁS course in Dublin and moved back home to Kilkenny. FÁS is a work training scheme for the unemployed in Ireland. Dave teamed up with Dermot Tobin, an actor, and long-time friend Dave Thompson, a musician, to start a film business. However, the overhead, Minogue says, "was quite intimidating and, truth be told, we didn't have a lot of experience." They made shorts and set up their own film festival and built a 60ft x 40ft drive-through cinema near the ruins of the Kilkenny birthplace of George Berkley, the 18th-century Anglo-Irish Bishop and philosopher.
Dave, Dermot, and Dave are now three unemployed twenty-somethings on the dole, living with their parents. "Rent a Friend," written and directed by Dave Minogue, resembles their lives. The premise of the series has Der and Dave, played by Tobin and Thompson, so down on their luck the only thing they can sell is their friendship. Hence, the two decide to rent out friendship to make a living -- and to combat loneliness in the world, of course.
"Rent a Friend" was lucky enough to become a finalist, and so far they have produced two out of a possible four episodes. Each episode is up against others and must compete for votes. The show with the least amount of votes gets knocked out. Votes for this round need to be in by Tuesday, April 5th.
In the first episode of "Rent A Friend" (no real spoilers here), a client confuses Der and Dave's companionship and escort service with a "companionship and escort" service. Eros has value, evidently, but brotherly love, not so much.
In the second episode, friendship still proves to be a troublesome and elusive commodity, especially when a pretty colleen enters the picture.
If you're so inclined, please check it out and cast a vote.
Dave Minogue is not a relative (nor is the Australian singer Kylie Minogue, although it's an unusual last name). He found me online about two years ago, and we have tweeted sporadically since in 140-character messages.