Missing You is a new six part RTÉ series about the lengths the Irish Diaspora will go to maintain and nurture relationships with their loved ones in spite of vast geographical distance. Here, Missing You producer and director Karen Moran writes about the genesis of the project.

Watch the first episode of Missing You here. 

There was a time when an Irish emigrant would have had to wait weeks, maybe even months to get news from home. Nowadays, after a short dial, we can call into a living room in Sydney, or a kitchen in Korea.

My brother emigrated to Melbourne, Australia in 2008. We missed him madly, but since then, the majority of our big and small family moments, our celebrations and commiserations, have been shared via a small screen. We Irish have such a long history of emigration, so I knew that my own situation would be all-too-familiar to many. I wanted to find a way of capturing family life, and the effect that distance can have, on that integral connection between loved ones.Missing You came from this.

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By recording video calls and omitting the presence of a crew, we hoped to get a really honest and intimate picture of Irish family life. But before casting could begin, we had to find the right technology to achieve this aim. We wanted to find a device that would be user-friendly and portable, as well as having video output that would be of broadcast quality. Our callers had to feel free to move around with the devices, so that visually ‘Missing You’ would be so much more than just talking heads. We also needed to find a recording application that would successfully work on the devices, to record these video calls.

Cole Delaney and his sister Romy feature in new RTÉ series Missing You

After a lot of testing and research, the app we finally settled on provided us with an almost invisible method of recording. Once a video call was answered, the recording automatically began, recording each side of the call as a separate video and audio stream. On completion of the call, the footage saved to a folder which could then be accessed, using cloud technology, by the production team. 

When it came to casting, we started off with a wish-list of participants that we hoped would represent a broad range of ages, genders, and types of relationships. But most importantly they needed to have a compelling story to tell. 

Gemma Flood and family call in to her mum Ann and dad John Joe

So, how do you talk people into letting you record their private conversations? 

To be honest, it wasn’t as difficult as we had first imagined. We cast a net far and wide looking for willing participants and the Irish emigrant community answered our call. For a lot of our contributors, especially those with young children, they wanted a record of their relationships with home. For others it was important for them to show that they still had a strong connection with Ireland; that despite living far away from home, they still had a deep sense of their Irish identity.

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Across the recording process we encountered numerous challenges, mostly concerning the technology. We were entirely dependent on WiFi technology, which we all know can be unreliable to say the least. WiFi is generally quite good in most parts of Ireland, it’s excellent in France, but surprisingly patchy in Australia. We also accumulated a lot of footage, approximately six hundred hours. All of which had to be viewed, logged and scripted into a story across six half-hour episodes.

Gemma and son Lucas talk to granny Ann, back in Dublin

What we ended up with in Missing You were honest and intimate stories about people who can’t be with the ones they love. From Libya to Laois, Dordrecht to Dublin, over the course of ten months we captured love, loss, tears and laughter, arguments and celebrations, the complexity of relationships at a distance, all through video calls.

Missing You starts on RTÉ One, 7th of June at 8.30pm.