Dressing His Former Self…

A couple of times a year, usually in summer and in the lead up to Christmas, I replenish my father’s wardrobe with the essentials – vests, jumpers, shirts, trousers and socks. I won’t, and don’t expect to get any thanks for it. He doesn’t know me anymore. He will talk to me as he would a stranger, if he’s in the mood. Pleasant and vacant – the ‘spick and span’ Da in his suit and tie that I grew up fearing cocooned now in mysterious, cruel layers that are painstakingly consuming his former self.

I have this ritual of ironing his name onto everything, an important task as otherwise, it will all get lost in the wash of the care home laundry process. Even his socks will be labelled before I place all of it in his wardrobe, in the bright and clean en suite room that the independent rebel still fighting inside him propels him to spend as little time in as he can possibly get away with. He paces the corridors most of the time. Going somewhere inside his head. Going nowhere outside it.

This ritual, I’ll put off for days, even weeks, the new clothes, still bagged and tagged in the corner as each time I find it harder to psych myself up for it. And even when his name is carefully placed securely on each item, I know full sure that the next time I venture in to visit him, another ritual that grows more difficult with time, some of the clothes will still be hanging, unworn in the wardrobe, and I’ll be frustrated when I see him wearing someone else’s jumper, or track suit bottoms – the latter an item of clothing his former self would, I know for sure, prefer not to be caught dead in.

Such is the experience of living with Alzheimer’s, my father’s personality, his style, his essence, his basic autonomy, slowly devoured by this cruel disease.

I didn’t always see eye to eye with his former self – anyone who has watched my film IN RIBBONS may begin to understand why – but the man I knew then is not the man I know now. The process of watching him disappear to a state of mind that only he will experience but will never be able to communicate to another human being is a dismal, morbid process to witness.

And the rituals hurt like fuck.

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Caroline

The Haunted and Fantastical: Short Film Programme 2017-2018 Season

The Maynooth Film for All Club season finished this month and will resume in October 2018. I was delighted to be invited to present another programme of short films for the season, and had great fun devising a theme and selecting some wonderful films. As always, the standard of submitted productions was very high, but unfortunately, I could only include seven films in the final programme. The theme I chose this time around was ‘The Haunted and Fantastical’ with an aim to screen films that were chilling and unusual and would most likely leave a lasting impression! With a mix of horror, fantasy and even some comedy, we received great feedback from the MFFA audiences, so here is the full selection and congrats to all the filmmakers on the amazing work.

 

THE CLOCKMAKER’S DREAM
A live action fantasy/art-house short, written/directed by Cashell Horgan (Paddy), starring Joe Mullins (Pilgrim Hill), and narrated by Jared Harris (Fringe, Mad Man, Sherlock Holmes, Lincoln, etc.)
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4837506
http://www.facebook.com/theclockmakersdream

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STRANGERS IN THE NIGHT

Horror Comedy written by Gavin Keane, Directed by Conor McMahon and starring Niamh Algar, Michael Hough, Nora Relihan

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt4515108/

https://www.facebook.com/StrangersintheNightShortFilm

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TH3 ROOM

When Jean clicks on an email link, it seems to be just a static shot of an empty room but on closer inspection all is not what it appears to be.

Written and Directed by Sean Breathnach

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1855371/

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THE NYMPH

A short fantasy written and directed by Damian Draven, starring Martin Galligan and Anna Ilaya Ozolina

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt4536860/

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THE PIGMAN

An outcast creature pines to be accepted by his local village. One night, outside his mountainous home, an opportunity arises. Written and Directed by Rik Gordon, starring Robert Render, Kathleen Bridget Murphy, Robbie Beggs and Jay Dee

https://www.facebook.com/thepigmanfilm

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SANDBOY

A tale of loss and redemption. Written and Directed by Vittoria Colonna, starring Wallis Murphy- Gunn.

https://www.facebook.com/Sandboythemovie

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LOST BOY

A story about the imagination of children, and the unbreakable bond between brothers.

Written and Directed by John Christopher

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Caroline is writer and director of FRAMED (2018)  and has also written and co-produced IN RIBBONS (2015) and ADAM (2013). She is the author of the award-winning novel, LADY BETH.

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On Writing: Fictional characters are anything but…

To write fictional characters, we must know them, inside and out, before we can feel empathy for them, and before we can understand why and how they will do the things that we will make them do, and say the words that we will make them say.

In other words, we must believe that they are real flesh and blood, with all of the wonders and foibles that go along with that. Only then, can we really write them in any meaningful way. This is nothing new to any writer worth their salt, right? And of these knowing writers, who does he/she choose to analyze the most? The writer’s self: as Confucius say – no matter where you go, there you are.

We are not just students of the human condition. We are our own subject matter. How we operate. How we relate, articulate, disseminate the world, our lives, our wants, our needs. And what of our secret selves? The histories, the pain, the faded and vivid memories, the disappointments, the yearnings, the unchartered dreams, the joys? The stuff that shapes us, the stuff that we never show and tell? Our interior lives – where the most fascinating secrets dwell to influence how we choose to live and the paths we take.

Stories of self can come to life in three-dimensional worlds that make meaning of experience, and hopefully generate empathy and connection with others. Removing the shield of author, and stripping away the mechanisms that hide the fragility of a human being alone, we know what we experienced, and we know how it felt. How we looked out at the world and the people in it, how we continue to do that.

The difference between being a child as opposed to being an adult is that, as the former, we are powerless to our fate, and powerless to change anything. Becoming the latter enables empowerment to not only steer our own course, but more importantly, to change our ways of thinking, reacting and of just being.

The fictional life is no different. And it is the challenge for the writer to pick away at those layers of being until exposing that space between what is seen in the character’s exterior life, and what is hidden in their interior one. The secret place of the human condition that exposes the reasoning behind our every action, and towards those surprises and discoveries that will lead us to chart a compelling arc for our character.

 

This article first appeared in Writers And Authors

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I am a writer and filmmaker from Dublin, Ireland. Author of the award-winning novel, LADY BETH, I have recently written and directed the short film FRAMED (2018). I am also the screenwriter and co-producer of IN RIBBONS (2015) and ADAM (2013)

FRAMED: The Trailer is up!

I am delighted to release the trailer of my directorial debut. Big hugs of gratitude to all who collaborated with me to make this happen. To find out more about the cast and crew, please visit our Facebook page at the link below…

 

FRAMED, a Short Film 

 

More news coming soon!

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I am also the author of the novels LADY BETH which won the award for BEST NOVEL at the Carousel Aware Prize and ARKYNE, STORY OF A VAMPIRE, I have also written several feature-length and short screenplays including ADAM [2013] and the multi-award winner, IN RIBBONS [2015].

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Events: Three Readings at 3pm

It’s a famine or a feast these days. A busy month with yet another reading, this time in the fabulous Books Upstairs in Dublin’s D’Olier Street. I’ll be reading with two wonderfully talented writers, Lindsay J Sedgwick and Carolann Copland, this Sunday, April 22nd.