John Carney was born in Dublin, Ireland, in 1972. He attended De La Salle College Churchtown. From there he went on to become a highly-successful film-maker and musician, being one of the original members of the Irish band The Frames and co-creating the Irish TV drama series Bachelors Walk, but he is probably best known for his Academy-Award-winning 2007 film Once.
He was bassist for Irish rock band The Frames between 1991 and 1993 and also directed some of their music videos. In addition to this, Carney also wrote and directed two award-winning short films (Shining Star and Hotel) before making his first feature. Carney wrote and directed November Afternoon in 1996 with fellow film-maker Tom Hall. Despite a limited release, it was acclaimed as the 'Film of the Year' by The Irish Times. A low-budget drama, shot in black and white, it tells the story of two couples whose relationships begin to crumble over an eventful weekend. Carney himself provided a jazz score for the soundtrack.
Carney's next film was the edgy drama Park, which premiered at the Dublin Film Festival. Written and co-directed by Carney and Tom Hall once again, the drama about a girl who is abused by a paedophile was released in 1999.
Two years later, in 2001, he co-wrote and directed On the Edge. The film starred Cillian Murphy and Stephen Rea and was released through Universal Studios. He was awarded the Silver Hitchcock Award for the film at the 2001 Dinard Festival of British Cinema. Carney returned to TV writing and directing during the same year. He co-wrote and co-directed (with his brother Kieran Carney and Tom Hall) the hugely successful RTÉ TV series Bachelors Walk. The independently-produced TV series proved the most successful in Irish television history. The series ran for three seasons.
In 2003, he co-directed and co-wrote Zonad with Ciarán Carney and Tom Hall. A story about an escaped convict who fools a whole Irish village into thinking he's a visitor from outer space, the film starred Simon Delaney and Cillian Murphy. Zonad was extremely low-budget and was only released in 2010 on the heels of his following film, Once's, success.
In 2006, Carney directed the feature film Once. A music drama, the movie stars The Frames front-man Glen Hansard and Czech musician Markéta Irglóva. First released at the Galway Film Fleadh, Once had its official world release at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2007 and won the World Cinema Audience Award in the category 'Dramatic'. A low-budget affair shot for only €115,000, Oncewas hugely successful, grossing €5 million worldwide in its first three months of release. Legendary film-maker Steven Spielberg is quoted as saying, 'A little movie called Once gave me enough inspiration to last the rest of the year.' As writer and director of Once, Carney won the 'Most Promising Newcomer Award' in the Evening Standard British Film Awards 2007.
He directed The Modest Adventures of David O'Doherty for RTÉ, starring Irish comedian David O'Doherty and performed on the singleOrange, released by O'Doherty during the making of one of the series' episodes. His most recent film was Begin Again, starring Mark Ruffalo and Kiera Knightly.