David Kinsella: I want to make people smile

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David Kinsella is acclaimed photographer and director.He hails from Belfast and lived and worked in Norway for past 30 years. Now he is back in Belfast creating fantasy world. He bought derelict original houses of Titanic shipyard workers, built between 1860-1910 and turned them into interactive world of romance and fairy-tale. He created something unique, which isn´t anywhere in the world.

When did you come up with idea of buying three houses in Ireland and recreating them into painted film and fairy tale?

About 3 years ago in 2017, I wanted a new visual cinematic challenge, so I could continue developing my storytelling style. I was born in Belfast, also the Titanic ship which was built in Belfast was the biggest tourist attraction in Northern Ireland. I decided to buy 3 Titanic shipyard (Harland&Wolff) original workers houses, turn them into living stories/movies, an authentic ”Walt Disney world” (Style) entertainment accommodation so the tourists can really live in the Titanic story.


What led you to it, no success in filming, enough of filming or lack of money and need for some security net for the future?

I had lived in Norway for 30 years, my mother was then 88 and it was time to return to Belfast and have some quality time with her, at the same time I needed a new creative challenge, a step beyond cinema, make a movie that is real for my audience. As I said I wanted a new challenge, and be more commercial, and also has a financial future rather than always creating new movies that have a short commercial life. My Norwegian film company David Kinsella productions As, created a sister company in Northern Ireland called Arthouse DK I decided to be more commercial and give my audience the chance to make their dreams come true.

Quit filming, up the stick from Norway after 30 years and starting from scratch is no mean feat. Was it just one- man team or you found collaborators who offered the help and you created another team just in different country and different sector?

Creating something that has never been made before, means we have to invest our personal money and a lot of time, and yes took 2 1/2 years to complete the first 3 “Fair-tale worlds” .I think my creative mind is beyond most people, so I had to find the artists and set designers, carpenters that had talent, and wished to create something they had never done before, that was only good for their personal careers. 

“We invest in what we are good at, and not what we would like to be good at” .

My talent has always been visual and telling stories, now rather than the movie format, now I use a building as a living book/ movie, so my audience can be living the movie, follow the stories throughout the buildings. Close the door, live in a story, a moment in time and forget their hard lives for a few days.


Could you talk us though the basic steps from locating buildings, buying them, renovating them? Was the inside painting the prime idea of that or it came later to make it more special? Did you use only nature material, wood and stones or you used modern technology but it looks as old.

The steps are simple. The biggest tourist attraction in Northern Ireland is the Titanic shipyard and the Titanic museum, so it is logical to start with the Titanic story. I looked for original Titanic workers houses, I eventually found 3 and
bought them. Each house needed total renovation and an individual story and style. Then,70 % of my movie audience is female. I made all the houses for women, (as it is women who normally decide where a family or couple will visit and stay).  With a focus on love and romance, each house is called a women.
“Rose” from the Titanic movie,“Victoria” as in Queen Victoria as the house is beside the Queen Victoria park. “Becfola” an Irish Princess fairy - tale called “The Wooing of Becfola”. I then had to find artists, as the houses are 100 % hand painted, floors, ceilings and walls telling the stories. I also needed to find carpenters as all the furniture needed to be hand made mostly from wood to fit each story. Now I am close to releasing the “Fairy - tale worlds”. I need to add the technical sound designs that flow through the houses, like wind, birds, fairy-tale stories being told etc.


Was the fact that Titanic was built in Belfast shipyards reason why you chose to paint it inside or you like the Cameron´s movie and are fascinated by everything in Titanic so it was obvious reason?

05 Rose

The Titanic story became the world-wide commercial story success because of the movie, (not because of the people who died, but the love story, the ultra-rich and poor) it was logical to work with what the audience knows and wants.


Did you paint everything by yourself since you didn´t find reliable artists? How long did it take to paint the lot?

Artists can be difficult, their enthusiasm runs dry, as their work took sometimes over one year to complete. My job was to inspire the artists, so they could fulfil my dreams, not theirs. Finding very creative people is very difficult, now I need movie set builders, to create a new dimension to my “worlds”. As for painting, I did all the preparation work for the artists, and still today, I use a fine paint brush to make everything perfect. The art work has taken 2 years for the 3 Holiday fantasy worlds.

Did you study the interior of Titanic so you tried to recreate exact copy or you just painted the images from it to commemorate local ship workers and casualties, but it doesn´t bear any accurate resemblance?

The 3 “Holiday worlds” are totally different. Rose is my abstract story of dreams of love and happiness and a new life in USA for the people who sailed on the Titanic ship. The house paintings show Titanic story from it´ s launch in Belfast, to dramatic sinking and there are also bedrooms with handmade Titanic ship beds. It also features a full size lifeboat sofa. RMS Carpathia breakfast bar, hand-made wood burning hot tub with iceberg as well as outdoor kissing room on the deck of the Titanic.


Victoria, I went to the Northern Ireland Folk museum and tried to create how the house was in 1910 when it was built, so the guests can feel how the workers lived, but the second floor is my interpretation of how a first class Titanic bedroom would be like.


How long did it take from A-Z and how much did the project cost? Did you pay from your pocket and now own it or you asked for bank loans or Cameron sent a fat cheque, too?

From first coming up with the idea, to completing the first 3 holiday worlds will have taken 3 years. The budget for 5 holiday worlds (2 new ones are in development) will be around 800 000 EUR, for the first 3 houses this is 500 000 EUR and this is all financed by selling my home and investments from my personal film company. No money from any others.

Will you recreate more houses or this is the lot? Will it by like B+B or pension and how many rooms do you have? Any special prices for such special night?

I hope to have 6 Northern Ireland theme worlds created by 2022. The houses are self-catering, but local catering is one of the extras. One house it like fairy-tale.



Does it have some local root also or its your favourite one from childhood?

 “Becfola” is a Northern Ireland fairy-tale called “The Wooing of Becfola”. The fairy-tale world has the story painted in words and pictures throughout the building. The guests need to follow the story, and finally they find the “Happy ever after” end in the Queens castle at the end of the ivy tunnel garden. The house follows her love story in fairy world forest there with 18 000 LED lights. 


The story includes wolves and evil witches.

01 Becfola

Does it mean the end of David Kinsella filmmaker or once this venture get under way you will start filming again?

I am developing the form of storytelling, but now on multi interactive levels, not just moving pictures and sound. Now the audience move around in my stories and interact with the stories. I am definitely not finished as a creative artist, but now giving my audience a living world they can stay in and interact and forget the realities of life for a few days. The audience can return again and again to a new world by David Kinsella. 15 03

Visit us as http://emeraldisleretreats.com

Thank you very much.

Photos: David Kinsella