It was a case of planes, trains and automobiles as University of Limerick students filmed a festive homecoming story to warm the heart this Christmas. Barcelona, Paris, Limerick and Clare were among the locations as international students returning home for Christmas feature in this year’s video, which comes after the success of last year’s A (UL) Christmas Story.
With over 3,000 international students from 107 countries studying at UL every year and 600 UL students spending semesters attending universities around the world, this year’s message is one to which many students, past and present, can relate: “Wherever you have been, it’s always good to come home”.
What makes the project special is that all storyboarding, filming, editing, vocals, arrangement, sound engineering, directing, and acting was carried out by UL students over the past few months.
Patrick Hayes, a 3rd year Digital Media Design student who braved strikes in France to bring the story of students heading home to life, directed, shot and edited the video, which stars two real UL students Andrea Gordón Gaete, from Barcelona and Kayla O’Regan McCannon from Tralee and tells the story of their experiences leading up to Christmas and the excitement of returning home after a semester studying abroad.
“Who better to tell the story of our students than the UL students themselves? For social media content creation we have worked a lot over the years with students from across the university, drawing from the diverse talent pool and offering them experience and learning opportunities, but we’ve never taken on anything like this – we’re not sure any university ever has. We are so proud of them and what they’ve achieved” said Tony Sheridan, Social Media Officer at UL.
The team utilised locations around Limerick, Paris, Barcelona and Shannon Airport to bring the tale to life, with all the students involved working around deadlines and study for exams to make the concept a reality.
With the support of Aer Lingus, Patrick flew to Paris and Barcelona to feature the international students and their families reuniting.
“I’m really chuffed with myself and all the students that were involved in the making of the video. It really was a crazy experience,” explained Patrick, who also co-directed, shot and edited last year’s Christmas tale, and is currently on work placement with UL’s Marketing and Communications Division.
“There were so many moving parts involved - deadlines, exams, weather, plane time tables, and the students having jobs to work around, to name but a few. I mean, one shoot involved me driving into the middle of Paris with two UL students during a nationwide strike, and then running up to the Eiffel Tower to shoot a scene! We really went all out, and I am so proud of everyone involved.
“After the success of last year’s video we just wanted to make this Christmas Story bigger and better. We thought ‘what better way to do that than to get planes, trains and automobiles involved, and to capture the story of International students, enjoying their time in a new city and university of course, but also their excitement to make it home for Christmas?’,” he adds.
The festive tale is set to music recorded by students at UL’s Irish World Academy of Music and Dance.
UL President Dr Des Fitzgerald said "The video shows the wonderful creativity that we have among our students here at UL. They pulled out all the stops to tell a story that is close to home for so many and it shows how creative, hardworking and inspiring they are."