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From a childhood on a Sligo farm to working on Game of Thrones, Belfast-based costume designer says he’s proof a career in film industry is realistic

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Enda Kenny

Enda Kenny

Enda Kenny with Sean Boyle, the manager of ScreenWorks, and the prototype suit of armour he is going to work on with the students

Enda Kenny with Sean Boyle, the manager of ScreenWorks, and the prototype suit of armour he is going to work on with the students

Alexander Skarsgård as Amleth in The Northman

Alexander Skarsgård as Amleth in The Northman

Björk stars as a seeress in The Northman

Björk stars as a seeress in The Northman

Enda was part of a team of 15 who worked to create costumes for the battle scenes in Game of Thrones

Enda was part of a team of 15 who worked to create costumes for the battle scenes in Game of Thrones

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Enda Kenny

How does a young boy growing up on a remote farm in Co Sligo end up making an iconic headpiece for avant-garde songstress Bjork in Viking epic The Northman?

That is what leading Belfast-based costume designer Enda Kenny will explain to students at the next Into Film ScreenWorks course on June 20-23.

Ahead of his four-day workshop, Enda spoke about his excitement and nervousness at fitting the barley headdress for one of his pop idols, whose appearance as a blind Icelandic seeress is a mere two minutes long but one of the film’s show-stopping scenes.

“We were all masked up and it could have been stressful but she was great,” says Enda.

“It was a real career high for me. I think Bjork is amazing so to make something so iconic for her was really cool.”

The headdress, based on an authentic ninth century Slavic wedding crown, worn in what is now Ukraine, was featured in the April edition of Vogue Magazine.

Enda worked with The Northman costume designer Linda Muir, who also worked on director and screenwriter Robert Eggers’ previous two productions, The Witch and The Lighthouse.

“It is made from sheaves of barley and was really technically difficult to make. Linda Muir did a huge amount of research on the costumes to make them as historically authentic as possible,” explains Enda.

He began his career on a prop-making course at the Institute of Art and Design in Dun Laoghaire before completing his degree at the Arts University, Bournemouth.

Since then, he has extended his skills to include costume design and millinery, working on film and TV projects such as Game of Thrones, Krypton, and theatre productions for Sadler’s Wells Ballet, and the Royal Opera House.

For his ScreenWorks course he will be working with students to create a full set of armour.

“I’m still developing the course content but because of my background in sculptural costume I was thinking about creating a historically inspired fantasy suit of armour using leatherwork, paint effects and costume ageing techniques,” he says.

“The course should appeal to both girls and boys. I’m looking forward to it.”

The ScreenWorks programme, delivered by Into Film and funded by Northern Ireland Screen, has brought together industry professionals from a range of fields to help young people better understand career options.

Placements with ScreenWorks offer young people unparalleled access to industry professionals on three- to five-day work training workshops across all five screen sectors — film, television, animation, gaming and visual effects.

Enda admits that as a young boy growing up in rural Sligo in the 1990s, he would never have dreamed of a career in the film industry.

“The idea of working in film costume was foreign to me and my teachers weren’t supportive of me going into that type of work. I had to discover what was out there on my own.”

His first experience working in Northern Ireland was with the 2008 film, City of Ember, in Belfast. He worked on the production for about six months and fell in love with the city.

He returned to London but moved back to Belfast in 2009 to work on the film Your Highness, starring Natalie Portman. It was then he heard about the pilot for a new programme called Game of Thrones and went for an interview with the designer for head of the costume department.

“I got the job and worked on the pilot and the first few seasons. I worked as a textile artist, embroidery and hat-making, it was a chance to use a range of my skills.


“Working in the costume breakdown department was like a factory, at one stage there were 15 of us pumping out costumes for giant battles.”

It was this experience that convinced him to move to Belfast permanently to work in the fledgling film and TV industry.

“When I moved here the industry was very new and there was a real optimism and openness. People were really welcoming to me coming in and working with them.”

Enda has set up his own craft studio at Conway Mill, making leather satchels and bags. 

He said Belfast remains a great place for young people starting out in the industry: “There are a lot of opportunities here that you wouldn’t get in other cities with massively established film crews. It is easier to get on a job as a trainee. If you show talent then people recommend you, which leads to more opportunities.”

He added that willingness to learn and work hard will get a young person far in the industry: “I can relay all my subsequent jobs to an initial piece of work experience in Dublin. As long as you are a hard worker you can go far.”

He also worked on the recent Dungeons and Dragons movie, due to be released in March 2023.

“I am now at the stage where I am enjoying working part-time on film productions, doing leather work and hat-making, while developing my own business,” he adds.

“But I would recommend the film and TV industry to any young person. It is a great and exciting career to be in.”

To view Enda’s work, go to:https://einin.co.uk or see his instagram @einincraftwork. For more information about the costume design workshop or other work placements offered by ScreenWorks, go to https://www.intofilm.org/screenworks


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