Monday 16 September 2019

In a Rush to make movies

Ken Phelan talks to Rush filmmaker, Patricia Kelly about her new short film, set in Fingal, and her love of movie making and telling great stories

A filmmaker from Rush has just completed her debut short film, an intriguing tale of justice and injustice set in her native North County Dublin, and with her original script and innate sense of drama, she is truly set to take the film world by storm.

'When Possible, Take a U-Turn', written and directed by Patricia Kelly and set in Rush, Lusk and Skerries, tells the story of a lonely and heartbroken girl who inadvertently gets embroiled in a court case, setting off a series of events which will change her life, and the life of a defendant, forever.

Only turned filmmaker this year, Patricia, who has been a screen writer for over a decade, has written a number of screenplays in the past, but having been unsuccessful in having them produced, has now taken the director's chair.

Patricia's 'When Possible, Take a U-Turn', just recently completed, has been submitted to a number of film festivals, where Patricia hopes it will gain much critical acclaim and the attention of film distributors.

Speaking of the idea behind the script, Patricia explains how it originated from her own personal experience of working in a law firm: 'I work full-time as a legal secretary in a large corporate law firm, but I have also separately done some freelance court transcribing, so I'd be at home and I'd plug into court recordings and transcribe them.

'Really, that's what the main character does in the film, and as soon as I started to do that and I started to listen in to court cases and how detailed they are, and to hear all the personal details of everybody involved, it gave me the idea for the film.

'When you're doing it from home and people are just recording in a courtroom into a microphone, the person that's typing it up is very much invisible, and yet they have access to, or they're privy to all this personal information remotely, and I just thought that was just a very interesting idea.

'I thought that maybe somebody would do something with that, and could get over-involved in a case that they were listening to, and maybe think that they had a grasp on whether somebody was guilty or innocent and that they shouldn't, but they could take things further, and do a bit of investigating themselves.

'So that's where the inspiration came from.'

Patricia explained: 'It's particularly interesting with this idea, because I thought it worked really well as a standalone short, a ten or eleven minute film, but there's plenty of potential for it to be developed further.

'So I'm working on a feature film screenplay of it, and I'm hoping I can get it made into a feature film.

'It could also be a TV idea as well, so that's why I was interested in that particular one.'

'When Possible, Take a U-Turn' centres around the film's main character, Maggie, who has recently split up with her girlfriend and finds herself lost, distracted and depressed.

A friend of Maggie's, who works at transcribing court cases, passes her workload to her as she sets off for a romantic weekend. Soon, Maggie becomes absorbed in the cases she is transcribing, and is captivated by the personal stories they tell.

When she comes across one particular case, of a serious sexual assault, she takes particular personal interest, and decides to investigate the case herself.

When she comes across the defendant and tracks him down, she finds herself inextricably involved in the case and decides to right some wrongs herself, her actions ultimately altering the course of the court case.

With a renewed sense of purpose, she moves on to the next case to see if she can also change the outcome, based her own blend of justice.

Rush, Lusk and Skerries were the ideal locations for the plot for the film, as Patricia explains: 'I live in Rush, so I started off from there. Maggie, the main character, her house was my house for the film, and the film was filmed in my house for a weekend.

'Then, I just had another friend who had a suitable house in Lusk, which is where the alleged perpetrator lives. It's a nice house there, so she very kindly gave us use of her house and her grounds.

'Then I was looking for somewhere nice where this guy would be taking his girlfriend, so we went to Skerries harbour and filmed them walking around there and having a drink there and having a look in an auctioneers premises and things like that.

'So I was keeping it very local to where I live, places that I know. We went down to Rogerstown Estuary as well and the South Strand in Rush, so I wanted to kind of keep it local and use settings that I knew well and would work well for the story.'

Patricia wrote the short 'in around six months', beginning in January/February to completion in June/July this year. The film was financed by Patricia herself at a cost of €10,000, though long-term, she has high aspirations for a full-length script, which should more than recoup her investment.

On leaving school, Patricia studied for a year in the Gaiety School of Acting, which was followed by one appearance on a commercial, and then small to medium-sized theatre productions. Due to family commitments, it has only recently become feasible to work as a filmmaker, which is why she finally took the opportunity this year.

A background in acting has greatly helped her in her role as a director, as she explains: 'I think my background in acting has really helped me, because I'm really comfortable with actors. So even though I had and have a huge amount to learn in terms of filmmaking, producing and directing, I do have a really strong background in acting and a really strong background in writing, so I know how to talk to actors.

'I know that every actor has a different way of working, and then you need to be very flexible working with them to help them to bring the absolute best to the role. That can be very different - one person may need to know a lot about the character's background, their back story and so on, and another actor may not want or need to know that at all. They may or may not need or want very much directing so it's just being very comfortable and familiar with how actors work and their different approaches. So it's definitely something that stood to me when it came to directing.'

On why she first became involved in filmmaking, she says:

'I think the appeal of filmmaking is that you can take something from start to finish. As wonderful as I find writing, when you're talking about scripts, it's only the beginning of the process, it's not a book, it's not a novel, so if nobody takes it and turns it into a film, all it is is words on paper that nobody's going to read. So I suppose the appeal of filmmaking, even if it's only a short film, even if it's only three, ten minutes long, it's something you can take from start to finish, have ownership over and make sure it's done to the absolute best of your ability and have something to show people afterwards.'

Patricia is now working on a script for a feature length version of 'When Possible, Take a U-Turn', which she hopes to complete over the next few months. From there she hopes to find funding for the film and attract the interest of producers, before it's sent to film festivals and hopefully attract agents and distributors who will market it worldwide.

For Patricia, 'When Possible, Take a U-Turn' is just the beginning of a very successful career in filmmaking, as she concludes: 'There's absolutely no going back now. Now that I've actually taken a script that's mine and seen it right through to the end, I don't see that I could go back to only being a writer. I will write projects that are still available for other producers and directors to work with, because I do write a lot and I can't make everything myself, but absolutely I'm going to continue making shorts and hopefully features. But now that I have an idea what I'm doing, and it's been a really terrific process to go through, I'm very happy with the outcome, very happy with the short film, and I'm looking forward to where it may take me.'

Fingal Independent