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Next up: I will be launching None of That: A Black Books Podcast

26 Jan 2011

Half way through intensive workshop week

It is Wednesday morning, and I am half through the intensive workshop week with Soilsiu Films, and calling it intensive has been a fititng description of the week. The day starts at 8am, with a group walk, and then for the most of the rest of the day we are in character doing improvisation workshops, before finishing the evening off with a documentary screening about the effects of child sexual abuse on the victims.

The material we are working with, based on Detective Martin Ridge's memoir as a detective investigating the rape of dozens of children by a priest in rural county Donegal is both harrowing, and also maddening because of the behaviour of the priest in question, Fr Greene and conspiratorial nature of the Diocesan cover up. Such is the depth of our analysis of the material, a psychologist, Dr Jeannie Cashin is on hand, should we need her.

Thankfully the day is broken up by various outdoor activities provided by Gartan Outdoor Education Centre, such as rock climbing, and cycling, ably led by Ed Humm and Charlie Cassidy. Cycling among the mountains, even on a blustery, wet day, is incredibly refreshing, and gives a much needed release.

The actors also on the workshop are Andrea McCaffrey, Anna Fox, Colm O'Brien, Jeremy Earls, Liam Halley, Melissa Nolan, Ruth Calder-Potts and Shane O'Reilly - all based in Dublin, and all incredibly talented. Developing characters from scratch through improvisation workshops is difficult, but with such a high calibre of talent, things took shape quickly.

This is an entirely new experience for all of us, including the director, David Rane, and his co-writer, Paul Bonar, but with a project of this magnitude, and importance, it is worth pushing limits for the art.

20 Jan 2011

Intensive workshop week in Donegal possibly leading to feature film

On Monday I travelled to Letterkenny to attend an audition, which I knew very little about, except that it was going to be entirely improvised. I went along, not knowing what to expect (for a start, I had never actually stopped in Letterkenny, only drove through it a few times when I was about 8 years old), and found An Grainan Theatre relatively easily. When I was there I met up with the director, David Rane, the producer, Paul Bonar, both involved with Soilsiu Films and a third lady, Dr Jeanne Cashin Phd.

They explained that the project was based on a non fiction book that they have optioned, the memoirs of a Guard based in rural Donegal, Martin Ridge, whose investigation led to the convictions of two paedophiles in the community, Fr Eugene Greene and a primary school teacher, Denis McGinley.

The project is going to be based on the grown up victims and how they deal with their trauma - hence the involvement of Dr Cashin.

The audition went well, and I was one of the first group of two to audition, which I am beginning to believe, is an advantage, since you get to set the bar, rather than live up to it. I got a call back and was told I have got a callback, which involves a week-long improv retreat in Gartan Outdoor Education Centre, where there will be team-building between the other attendees (I don't who they are yet), and an intensive program of workshops.

The project sounds incredibly moving, and it would be great to get a major role in the feature film - something my CV is lacking at present, but the retreat in itself will be an incredible experience, and I can't wait to get stuck in.

16 Jan 2011

New film Rent a Life completed

This week I received the final cut of the Declan Murray-directed film, Rent a Life. This was the film I was shooting before Christmas, with Shauna Coyles producing, James Ward as DP, Conall McMeekin on sound, and Kerri Kelly editing.

The production values were great, and the story, about an alcoholic struggling through a job interview, was presented beautifully. My co star, Eamonn Devlin played the part of the slightly unhinged interviewer to a tee.

I'll post a clip of the video here when the film is online.

9 Jan 2011

First draft of Sitting Up for Michael completed

This week I reached a personal milestone, having completed my first full play, Sitting Up for Michael (I mentioned it before). It is a small drama set during the sit up of a wake, exploring relationships between people during a bereavement.

I am going to send it around the theatre companies with dramaturgs in the city, and the reading group at Fringe Benefits, and try to get as much feedback as possible.

This is certainly a positive way to enter 2011, and with writing workshops at the end of January, and I am going to try to submit scripts for the BBC NI PrimeTime Competition (a comedy/drama about university freshers in halls), and BBC's Laughing Stock competition (an improved version of M'Learned Friends, my lawyer sitcom). Perhaps my writing could provide my break.

3 Jan 2011

Release of Lord of the Rings film, Hope, imminent

Today, I was delighted to see that Ben Mudge, director of the long-awaited Lord of the Rings fan film, Hope, has posted on his blog that the release of the film is imminent.

Believe it or not, this is me as an orc! Great make up work!

This is really exciting news, as this has been a film I have wanted to see completed for ages. The production values were incredible, as you can see from the picture above.

an abridged version of the film was played at Ben's graduation screening, but the full length version almost doubles the running time.

To whet your appetite further, here is the trailer for the film.