Institute of Art Design + Technology
Dún Laoghaire

Tadhg McDonogh Cunningham 

BA [Hons] Film + Television Production

Tadhg McDonogh Cunningham is a final year Directing Major in the National Film School at IADT. ‘Vixen’ is his debut short film, which he wrote and directed. As well as this he has worked on many sets as part of the lighting and camera team. He started working on films in his teenage years, with music videos being his primary focus. In 2022, he directed a music video for rising star Kayleigh Noble, ‘Imaginary Boyfriend’, which was featured in Clash Magazine and District Magazine. Tadhg also writes poetry and music, and works part-time as a Barista.


Vixen is a relationship drama that began as an ode to my parents. They met and subsequently had me when they were very young, midway through college. As I continued working, I found myself subconsciously bringing in more and more of my own experiences to the project. After a certain point, I realised that this project was as much about my own relationships as it was about theirs.

With this story, I am attempting to explore the many nuances of separation and connection. I can’t speak for people who are twenty, or even ten years my senior, but currently I am the age my parents were when they first met. What I’ve learned from being this age is how beautifully fleeting little moments of connection can be, and also how these moments can cause relationships to end with such sudden terminality.

Charlie Kaufman versus the Hollywood Status Quo

My thesis explores the unique and unconventional approach Charlie Kaufman has to screenwriting. It examines how Kaufman's scripts differ from the mainstream screenplays produced in Hollywood by analysing his work, such as "Being John Malkovich," "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind," and "Synecdoche, New York."

I investigate how Kaufman's screenplays diverge from the traditional Hollywood storytelling formula, characterized by the use of a three-act structure and the emphasis on linear narrative. The study highlights how Kaufman's work emphasises experimentation, introspection, and intellectual engagement to explore the human condition, challenging the audience to think deeply and question their assumptions about life, love, and the human experience.

Through a rigorous analysis of Kaufman's screenplays, this thesis aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of the differences between Kaufman's screenwriting style and the status quo of screenplays in Hollywood.