Cycling through the mean streets of Manchester, with a cameraman perched on the back of the bike, Derry woman Gemma Bradley said she felt on top of her game as a movie producer.
“That’s where you get the real rush,” she said. “Getting your hands dirty, making it real. Yes, you can work 20 hour days, and be asked to do all sorts, but it brings its own reward.”
The day in question was during filming for the new feature film ‘Brothers’ Day’ which is already attracting the attention of critics and audiences alike.
Filmed on a shoe string, Gemma explained that the crew simply did not have the fancy tracking equipment to film a chase scene - one of the best received sequences in the final cut - so they improvised.
And although her role was very much behind the scenes, pulling together the production requirements of the movie, she was not adverse to doing whatever it took to bring the gripping drama - set in the ganglands of Greater Manchester - to life.
“You have to offer the whole package now,” Gemma said - “It has become so much easier - technically - to make a film. So the competition has become so much more fierce.
“You need to be able to offer more - people are rarely just a writer, or just a producer. You have to muck in and find the best people to work with - people who offer more - because you are competing with the big studios. Your movies have to stand up against theirs. Funding is hard to come by, so time is your currency.”
It’s clearly a profession that Gemma feels passionately above. Her love for the film industry started when she was a student at Thornhill College. After finishing school, she trained at the Nerve Centre where she learned the ins and outs of production. It was then, nine years ago, that Gemma moved to Manchester to study at Manchester Metropolitan College.
Making a living from her passion means that Gemma’s worklife is quite varied. Luckily for her - that introduced her to the team that she would go on to work on Brothers’ Day with.
Working with Manchester based charity CSV Learning North - Gemma worked alongside Vedad Rusidovic to engage boys who have may have been excluded from traditional forms of education.
This led to a series of short films being put together on the topic of gang and gun violence - which in turn prompted the full length feature film ‘Brothers’ Day’
Gemma and director Angel Delgado went on to form Newfound Planet Productions and the project skyrocketed from there - thanks in no small part to the work of 200 volunteers who came on board.
The plot of the film is gritty and pulls no punches when it comes to showing the reality of life for some on Manchester’s young men and women. It follows the story of Ryan and Chris, two Manchester-based brothers who lost their family to gang related crime. Ryan, the older, leads his own gang, while trying hard to keep Chris, the youngest, outside of that world.
But things go wrong when they have an argument and Chris ends up getting involved in a hit. Chris then has to learn for himself that the decisions his brother made for both of them were not as easy as he thought.
Gemma explained that the film has resonated with disaffected young people. “We have had a good response from organisations such as Mothers Against Violence and Fathers Against Violence.
“I think how the film stands up is that is doesn’t preach to young people. It’s not just like some public service announcement - it talks to them on their level. It’s something they can relate to - everything from the setting, the music... it’s on their level.”
The film was premiered in Manchester earlier this year and ran over three nights to capacity audiences. It stars Lewis Fletcher, known for his role as Shane Fox in ‘Coronation Street’ and Tom Collins, who has previously appeared on BBC drama ‘Waterloo Road’. Many of the cast are, however, drawn from the pool of young people who Gemma and Angel have worked with in the past.
The experience has made Gemma certain that she wants to continue to pursue a career in film making.
“It has been incredibly exciting,” she said. “And yes, this is what I want to do. I’m very much working away behind the scenes on the marketing of ‘Brothers’ Day’, which I can’t say very much about just yet.”
But what she can talk about is the Derry premiere of the film which will take place in the Waterside Theatre on May 22. Tickets for the screening can be bought directly from the Waterside Theatre.