The Family Way: Humorous short by Firhouse filmmaker

By Aideen O'Flaherty

The nuances of a mother-daughter relationship takes centre stage in ‘The Family Way’, a humorous short film by Firhouse filmmaker Roisin Kearney that is set in a variety of recognisable local places, including Knocklyon, Firhouse and Rathfarnham.

The film stars Ciara O’Callaghan as Julia, the mother of teenager Ruth, who is played by Clara Harte, and sees the duo go out in search of pregnancy tests after the discovery of a positive pregnancy test in a bathroom cabinet – with both women having covertly taken pregnancy tests at different points that day.

Clara Harte and Ciara OCallaghan as Ruth and Julia 3 compressor

Clara Harte and Ciara O'Callaghan as Ruth and Julia

They then go to some local pharmacies to get new pregnancy tests but are worried about how they’ll be perceived, all to a backdrop of local areas that will be familiar to many Echo readers.

Roisin, who is originally from Rialto but now lives in Firhouse, spoke to The Echo about the award-winning short film, and why she became a filmmaker.

When and why did you decide you wanted to pursue filmmaking?

I worked mainly in theatre for years, and I worked with a lot with young people. We toured shows, a number of which played in The Civic over the years.

Some friends were working in film and we incorporated film into some of the shows. I was then asked to be involved in the first ever digital feature.

It was made in Jersey Island with Irish writer/director Stephen Kane, I loved it and then went on to work on ‘Pavee Lackeen’ with Perry Ogden.

What, for you, is the most fulfilling aspect of being a filmmaker?

Telling a story that people want to hear, and working with other filmmakers. I get incredibly nervous when showing work to anyone, you feel stripped bare but there is nothing in the world as rewarding as hearing people laugh at something you wrote.

It is full of highs and lows, but it is a privilege to have people give their time to watch something you have made.

Roisin Kearney compressor

Roisin Kearney

Where did the idea for 'The Family Way' come from?

I was doing a writing course in Film Base with tutor and screenwriter Mary Kate O’Flanagan and she gave us a bit of homework; to write a scene about an unexpected pregnancy, and it went on from there.

It was well before any talk of the 8th being removed and I suppose there was an attitude, of some, towards the ‘type’ of girl that could have an unexpected pregnancy.

I wanted to break that myth and say that it could be any woman from 14 to 50, but obviously show it in a funny way.

The film mainly centres on the nuances of a mother-daughter relationship, but in a humorous manner. What are your thoughts on the portrayal of mother-daughter relationships on film?

I love female characters, particularly mother and adult daughter relationships. The world has changed a lot over the last 30 years, particularly for women.

We were all brought up to police ourselves to some extent. I wanted to write women I recognise, who live in the world I live in and who come up against the challenges we all have.

We don’t get to see them enough, and, in all fairness, they are the best craic.

Ciara OCallaghan as Julia compressor

Ciara O'Callaghan as Julia

‘The Family Way' was recorded locally, why did you decide to film it in local locations and what was it like to film in real, working pharmacies and pubs?

It really was a community effort. My neighbours were amazing, we shot mainly in my house which did cause a bit of disruption but they were so helpful. Local chemist, Mark Ellis in Knocklyon, and Mr Price in Nutgrove let us shoot on their premises, and the pub scenes were in Rosie O’Grady’s in Harold’s Cross, which is sadly knocked down now.

If it wasn’t for the other parents from my kids’ school and individuals and businesses from the area the film could never have been made.

What has the response to the film been like?

It has toured all over the world to film festivals – really there would be no independent film if it was not for the work of these festivals.

I was so surprised at the international audience reactions, they loved it and really understood the complex relationship between Julia and Ruth.

I wasn’t sure it would translate to different countries, but I suppose mother-daughter relationships are universal.

The Civic Theatre has set up an Artist Emergency Relief fund, how do you feel about artists being supported in this way during the current circumstances?

Working in this industry is precarious. Most of the time, like anything else in the gig economy, you depend on one production to see you through until the next one.

Everything is just gone, and we don’t know when it will be back up and running. A lot don’t qualify for the Covid payment because of their employment status and are left very vulnerable.

The Civic were so quick to recognise this, they set up a fund almost straight away and really understood the predicament people were in.

The response has been incredible so far, they raised so much, and all from the community. It just shows you that what they do is valued and appreciated in the area.

The short film, titled ‘The Family Way – Short Comedy Film’ is out now on YouTube, and donations can be made to The Civic’s Artists’ Emergency Fund at GoFundMe

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