"It feels like we are coming into a kind of maturity in terms of Irish story telling"
Neasa Hardiman has won the Best First Feature Screenplay prize at the London Film Awards. Neasa is no stranger to accolades, winning a BAFTA for directing BBC’s children’s drama Tracy Beaker in 2010 with a nomination coming her way again last year. She has also won two Royal Television Society Awards and two consecutive Merit awards from the Chicago Film Festival. Neasa trained at NCAD and went on to become the youngest ever director of Fair City in 1998. Neasa is currently working on BBC’s hospital drama Holby City.
The writer/director told the Irish World why this latest award was so special to her: “I couldn’t be more pleased because it’s an award for writing. It’s a very personal story and something I really want to make.”
Entitled Sea Fever, Neasa’s concept is a science fiction story with modern themes: “It’s set on a west of Ireland trawler and it’s about seven crew members who get marooned at sea and they’re fighting against this rapidly growing power fight and water supply. What happens when you’re cut off like that and you turn on your own resources is it’s really hard to stay rational.
“It’s about trust, it’s about interdependence. How does belief come into play? I feel that these are questions that we are asking ourselves at the moment. Ireland has changed so rapidly in the last ten years and it’s changed around those things: What do we believe and how do we believe it? So I’m really excited. I really want to make it now. I would be hopeful that we could get it into production this year.”
Neasa’s expertise is being sought overseas as, speaking French and German in addition to fluent Irish, she lectures about film all over Europe: “The European Commission has invited me to mentor a selected group of Eastern European filmmakers, to work with them in terms of developing screenplays for an international market so it feels like we are coming into a kind of maturity in terms of Irish story telling. There’s good meaty stories to be told here and I think there is a generation of filmmakers here now that have the skills and the knowledge to bring them to life and to an international audience. The key is that we can make stories that feel Irish and are about Irish concerns and Irish people but travel internationally and make sense across the world and when we’re doing that, we’re really winning.”
2013 shows signs of being a bright year for Neasa: “I’m very excited about what this year is going to bring. I’ve been invited to one of the big international film festivals in Berlin in February so that will be fun as well. I’m heading over to London now because I’m editing Holby City which is fantastic: emotional, ethical dilemmas, politics, power struggles, all human life really. Then I’m looking at another TV project down the road and I have another feature film I am working on which is a ghost story in the west of Ireland. I certainly hope to be busy.”