An award-winning Limerick actress based in London is among those crowdfunding a short film about dementia and the life of a carer.
Clare Langford is co-writer of Mr. Wong’s Lullaby set in Sheffield and it is a quirky drama about dementia and the life of a carer.
The film has already raised almost 70% of its £14,000 target but the campaign comes to an end this week. It is also being produced in partnership with a charity called TIDE who provide support for carers of people with Dementia.
Clare told The Irish World the idea for the film came from the real life experiences of her and her fellow writer, Anni Swinburn.
Clare said: “Anni is an ex-social worker and I spent a year living with someone who had dementia as a carer for them.
“Both characters are very much drawn from our own personal experience of dementia and care.
“It’s unbelievable. Every second person I talk to have been touched by dementia in some way and there is just not a great deal of support for carers.
“Two thirds of all dementia care is actually provided by friends and family not by healthcare professionals but they’re just not given the support or the funding needed to really do it to the best of their ability. It’s so hard. It’s already a very difficult thing especially when you think it might be a friend or a parent or someone that you care about and then you’re also having to provide essentially medical care for them but without a great deal of support.
“It affects everyone in a different way. The most common thing that you see portrayed is the memory loss but that can be really different for everyone. Some people can have really good days and then they have days when they just can’t remember anything or they don’t remember who their own children are.
“There’s also not knowing who’s around you, not knowing where you are so there’s an element of confusion. What you want to do as a carer is support and soothe. Trying to shake them into reality is just going to so unhelpful.
“There’s so many different types of dementia. It really impacts some people’s personalities.
“It is a very emotional thing for people. There’s so many different ways it manifests. Some people can become quite angry. Some people have got really bad physical side effects too like ticks and twitches and tremors that come with it as well because of the way it affects the brain.
“Apparently at the moment there’s something like 850,000 people in the UK with dementia and it’s meant to double in the next fifteen years which is quite alarming.
“We have partnered with TIDE and they are basically a support network for people who care for someone with dementia.
“We are so grateful and blown away by how generous people have been. They have really pulled together and come forward.
“If we manage to reach our target we’ll then be making a donation to the charity we’re partnered with. Fingers crossed we get a few more donations coming in.”
Since graduating from The Drama Centre (Central St Martins), Clare has produced for arts festivals in London, Dublin and Toronto. She has been featured in The Irish World before for her work with The Charm Offensive and productions like The Playboy of the Western World directed by Gavin McAlinden.
The film sees social worker Norah struggle to balance her demanding workload with caring for her elderly father Horace, an ex-POW who has dementia.
“We started working on it two years ago now and the short film is a taster for a feature film that we’re hoping to produce later.
“The casting and audition process was done online with zoom and people sending in self tapes. Rehearsing, we’ve done some zoom script reads and stuff like that. Everything is zoom. We haven’t actually been able to meet anyone which is bizarre but we’re starting filming on 23 April so that will be the big introduction. Hopefully everyone gets on.
“We have to stay flexible. Fingers crossed. If it looks like it is just too risky to do it then we won’t because we just don’t want anyone getting unwell. It’s just not worth the risk but it is looking fairly hopeful that we’ll be able to film then.
“We only ever really have two people onscreen at any moment. It’s not as if we have big crowds. It’s all very domestic.
“Hopefully with that in mind we can do it pretty safely.”
Clare is the sister of Limerick songstress Emma Langford. Emma will feature on the soundtrack and Clare says it has been a joy collaborating with her well known sibling.
“It’s brilliant. It’s so funny because my mum in particular loves musicals so when we were kids me and Emma would often kind of play doing Les Mis or Phantom of the Opera.
“Later when I was at university I was running the drama society and Emma was in a few of the productions I was producing.
“I’ve been in London now for eleven years and Emma’s based in Ireland so we see each other once or twice a year- Aside from during lockdown. It’s really nice to work on something together.”
Emma has featured on Rookie Films’ live streams over the past weeks. This Wednesday the film company will hold a virtual St. Patrick’s Day party.
“We’ve got Emma coming on to do some music. We’re going to have a pub quiz online and a green-themed face painting demonstration.”
For more information and to make a donation, click here.
You can also find more information and the St. Patrick’s party here.