Surfing, political advertising and The Troubles: A chat with Sean Duggan

Sean Duggan with an Irish local

CAPITOL WEEKLY PODCAST: Last week, Keep It A Secret, a documentary that tells the story of the pioneers of surfing in Ireland, premiered on Irish television following a spate of film festival appearances. If the reviews are any indication, the film is headed for success: Ed Powers of The Irish Times raved, writing, “[The] broadcaster should urgently commission a drama based on the wonderful Keep It a Secret…” This is all heady news for first-time director Sean Duggan, who made the film in his spare time while working as the vice president of political advertising for Sirius XM.

At its heart, Keep it a Secret is an inspiring story of a small group of enthusiasts who built something out of nothing, literally creating a surfing culture that had never existed in the island. While Californians have been surfing for almost a century, and Hawaiians for decades before that, Irish surfers really didn’t start paddling out until about the time Van Morrison and friends were recording “Gloria.” And, just as the sport began to catch on in the island, politics – both internal to the surfing community, and external, in the form of The Troubles – intruded.

Sean shared the story of how he came to make Keep it a Secret, the challenges of independent filmmaking, and how skills from his career helped him complete the project.

Plus, we tell you who had the Worst Week in California Politics.

Show Notes:

1:25 “I had no idea there was an Irish surfing culture”

5:18 How to go from ad executive to filmmaker

6:36 Kevin Cavey

6:53 Political advertising on podcasts

8:01 MySpace

8:58 Things learned along the way

10:50 Shoutout to Guided By Voices

12:36 ‘Nothing goes the way you think it will”

14:29 Financing the film

17:18 See the film: https://www.pbs.org/video/keep-it-a-secret-bpeuui/

17:56 Origin story

20:09 The times

20:49 The Troubles

23:24 Brexit

24:54 The conflict: Localism

29:11 What next?

32:29 WWCA

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