Debut screenwriter, Teresa McGowan, was on tenterhooks as filming on her first feature length screenplay finally drew to a close in Derry.
Due to wrap today ‘A Bump Along the Way’ is Teresa’s first ever long-reel script.
Centred on a fraught mother and daughter relationship after an unexpected pregnancy, it features ‘Pulp Fiction’, ‘Star Wars’ and ‘The Commitments’ star Bronagh Gallagher in the lead role.
Speaking to the ‘Journal’ Teresa - who is originally from the Moor - said working on the 90 minute film was the realisation of a long held ambition while the idea for the script and its execution came quickly and easily.
“I remember asking a friend of mine years ago if she would ever have any more children,” she explains.
“At that stage she had had a few teenagers so she replied, ‘For buck’s sake Teresa McGowan, what would I be doing getting myself pregnant? Imagine putting your teenage children through the embarrassment of their mother being pregnant?’
“I was sort of thinking about that when I was pregnant myself, that that would make for a great story and these scenes just started writing themselves.
“The log line is ‘a boozy 44-year-old mum becomes pregnant from a one night stand much to the shame of her buttoned-up teen daughter’. It’s a kind of teen pregnancy situation but in reverse.
“So it’s the story of those two and how they come to terms with this. It’s a lighthearted comedy drama,” Teresa laughs.
The long-serving former newspaperwoman, who now divides her time between Derry and Berlin where her husband is from, explains how her dream of working on a feature was finally realised through NI Screen’s ‘New Talent Focus’ initiative.
Working under the nom de guerre Tess McGowan - it’s easier for her Berliner in-laws to pronounce, she says - she submitted the script and it rolled from there.
“It was an amazing opportunity provided by NI Screen. They’re so supportive of local talent and I feel so lucky that I got on their ‘New Writer Focus’ last year which started this process. I love screenwriting, and storytelling, I know it’s what I want to do, but the thought of someone in my position breaking into the film industry is almost delusional.
“I’m 39, have two young kids, based between Berlin and Derry, and hold down a regular job that pays the bills. It doesn’t leave me with much time to write let alone go out networking with film types, but thanks to NI Screen I now have a feature and short in production. Northern Ireland punches above its weight on the film scene all the time. A major reason for that is NI Screen and its investment.”
Teresa says producer Louise Gallagher and director Shelly Love, like her, had been involved in other projects before, but ‘A Bump Along the Way’ will be the first feature on which they get headline credits.
“The producer, Louise Gallagher has been a ninja in bringing the film together. She has assembled an amazing crew at such short notice and I can’t wait to see what the director Shelly Love does with it. She’s very intelligent and creative and has an amazing eye.”
Teresa says it will be amazing to see seasoned actors like Bronagh Gallagher and Dan Gordon bring the scenes alive alongside rising star Lola Petticrew
“To get Bronagh Gallagher and Lola Petticrew in the lead roles is just mind-blowing.
“They’re ridiculously talented actors and perfect for the parts. They’ll bring it to life in ways I couldn’t even have imagined.”
Over the past two years NI Screen’s ‘New Talent Focus’ has produced ‘A Bad Day for the Cut’ (2017), now available on Netflix, and ‘The Dig’ (2018), which screened at Toronto - one of the largest film festivals in the world. Both were gritty thrillers. ‘A Bump Along the Way’ makes a change in tone but maybe the world is ready for a volley of Derry humour.
“It’s all being filmed in Derry. Northern Ireland is great for filming but a lot of it is in Belfast. With ‘Game of Thrones’, for instance, you had one of the top guys thanking Belfast at the Emmys but none of that comes to the North West and there’s an awful lot of talent here. Louise has really done a lot to get local Derry talent on board across heads of department, lighting, sound, etc. It’s a big pool. So that’s been one of the great things about it.”