As you'll know if you read the text in big letters at the top of this page, I'm a director, I'm based (and was born) in Belfast, and yes, I really am in Star Wars.
I've been in and around the theatre, film and television industries for about fifteen years, and even though I started directing for the screen relatively recently, I've been working up to it for a very long time.
On the way, I’ve developed new writing for the stage (including commissioning and directing Lisa McGee’s early work), produced the Irish premiere of The 24hr Plays, taught acting at University of Ulster, lectured in theatre at Queen's University Belfast, and was Artistic Director of my home-town's Lyric Theatre Studio. Add to that my experiences over ten years living and working as an actor in London, in everything from BBC period dramas to Ridley Scott produced Sci-Fi, from the National Theatre to the the Bond stage, and you'll see why I feel like I have something different to offer. Unlike most directors, who rarely get to see how their heroes do the same job, I've been lucky enough to be directed by some of the best, both on film - including Stephen Frears, Ralph Fiennes, Rian Johnson, and Oliver Hirschbiegel - and on TV – including Nick Murphy, Andy Wilson, Ciaran Donnelly, and Colin Teague.
But directing for the screen is what I love. I knew it within minutes of turning over on my first short.
Guard - a female led boxing film (or relationship drama, if you're not a festival curator) - was completed in 2017. Featuring in its lead roles The Fall's Bronagh Taggart, and Game of Thrones stars Michael McElhatton and Ian McElhinney, it debuted at Galway Film Fleadh and has since screened in compeititon at over a dozen festivals, including Oscar, BAFTA and EFA qualifiers. Then, just before the end of last year, it won a European Independent Film Award in the Best Short Film category. By that time, I'd already moved on to child number two...
My second film, Troubles, another Belfast-set relationship drama, focuses on issues of male friendship, sexuality and mental health. It was funded by BFI Network via Northern Ireland Screen. Having just been completed, the film was selected for inclusion in a BFI & NI Screen showcase event, hosted by BAFTA in April 2018, before debuting in competition at the Oscar-qualifying Galway Film Fleadh.
My third film is a short doc entitled The Empty Chair, exploring the impact of teenage suicide on three Northern Irish families. Once again, I've been awarded funding by BFI via NI Screen, and have secured additional support from Inspire, the mental health charity. I will shoot and edit the film myself and hope to complete the whole process before the end of the year.
Having completed a course in documentary filmmaking at the NFTS, and worked professionally as a photographer for a decade, the recent move into self-shooting (for documentary) has been a hugely rewarding one, utilising lots of existing skills and allowing me to further develop as a narrative director.
I also work occasionally as an A.D., where I get to make mistakes vicariously, but also learn some new tricks from my peers. You can see my full screen credits on IMDb here. And I'm also scheduled to make a return to directing for the stage in 2020, as I take on On McQuillan's Hill by "Ulster's Martin McDonagh" (The Guardian's words, not mine) Joseph Crilly, at London's Finborough Theatre.
The ultimate aim? I want to direct theatre and TV, side by side. In regards to the latter, I'm looking for my first broadcast credit, and any experience that will help me get there.
I’m interested in truthful stories that affect us on an emotional level and which allow the audience access to a world to which they might not otherwise gain entry. I love the dark humour that arises in unlikely circumstances – the kind I grew up around in 80s and 90s Belfast. I’m a passionate believer in diversity and in telling stories from underrepresented social and ethnic groups.
So that's me. When I'm not going on about myself, I start more books than I finish, extoll the virtues of veggie haggis, and make things out of wood. All this happens somewhere in South Belfast, where I live with my wife - an actor and telly writer - and our very moody lurcher, Gracie. I'm in London about once a fortnight, so give me a shout and we'll have a coffee. I want to hear about you for a change.
Please email me for a bang up-to-date CV, links to full screeners and an extended reel.
Oh, yeah. My one line in Star Wars?
"Direct hit! Dreadnought down!"
Living. The Dream.