I gotta grant

I am pleased and grateful to receive an Arts Act Grant to develop my screenplay, Amongst Wolves, about the adventures of a 6th-century Irish monk. The story explores the nature of monastic life, examines his struggle with his faith, and follows him on a dangerous journey across a chaotic and brutal medieval Europe to establish a famed place of learning in northern Italy.

Amongst Wolves examines themes of faith, sacrifice, and isolation. The story explores man’s vulnerability before the advent of the protective benefits of science and technology, the nature of time in a world without distraction and the idea of life with a purpose. When the world was hostile and barbarous, some men set out to spread learning and hope; this is their story. 

The Arts Act Grant is provided by Carlow Arts Office who have been very supportive of my practice over the years. I plan to use the money to create treatments and pitch-decks in order to seek further development, or even production, funding from the likes of Screen Ireland or from independent production companies.

Writer in Residence

Marc-Ivan O’Gorman in the Hollywood Hills House where Orson Welles co-wrote Citizen Kane

Following in the footsteps of the likes of playwright John McKenna, poet Jessica Traynor and songwriter Mick Hanley, I am taking up the post of Writer in Residence in my hometown of Carlow, Ireland.

The residency will involve teaching a weekly class, weekly one-on-one consultations with aspiring writers and developing a drama along a local theme. The course is on the fundamentals of dramatic writing, including writing for stage, radio and animation but with a focus on screenwriting.

I have written numerous dramatic pieces based on local events and characters, from the brutal aftermath of the 1798 Rebellion to the mysterious murder of Hollywood director William Desmond Taylor. I have no doubt I will unearth another intriguing tale buried in the town’s past.

The first half of the residency will be conducted remotely, in line with Covid protection restrictions, but the latter half will happen ‘IRL’ in the magnificent 18th-century surroundings of Carlow College, St. Patrick’s.

Carlow College, St. Patrick’s, 18th Century center of learning, mother of rebellion.

“St. Pat’s” is the alma mater of the most celebrated rebels Ireland has produced, including leading Young Irelander James Fintan Lalor, legendary Fenian, John O’Leary, Easter Rising martyr, Michael O’Hanrahan, and the instigator of Australia’s Eureka Rebellion, Peter Lalor. Will I be able to tap into that renegade spirit during my sojourn?

The program, supported jointly by the Arts Council of Ireland, Carlow Arts Office, Carlow County Library Service and Carlow College, St. Patrick’s, concludes a three-year cycle with my contribution that runs from September 1st until the end of the year.

A Bright and Guilty Place

So I’m on the bus. I’m soaking it all in, up the Ventura freeway, a route in part sponsored by “Bad Boys Bail Bonds”, we pass a shocking pink van advertising the essential “Topless Maid Service” (dial 1-844-SO-DIRTY), and I’m already computing the calculus of California. Is it better to take the 405 to the 101 to the 134 or the 105 to the 10 to the 5 to 134? These permutations were once a local pastime and the equivalent of Irish people scanning a grey morning and assessing whether it calls for the winter coat or just the windcheater. Of course, now there’s an app for all that.