Killough village in County Down is once again on the map as being a location for another important film production.
Oscar winner Oorlagh George who produced The Shore in 2012, set on the shores of Coney Island near Killough, also saw her father Terry pick up an Oscar gong for Best Director for the Best Live Action short film.
Terry George, writer and producer, was born in Belfast in 1952 and spent time in Long Kesh in the 1970’s on charges of being a suspected republican. This formative experience was later nevertheless put to artistic use as a writer and producer, known for Hotel Rwanda (2004), In the Name of the Father (1993) and Some Mother’s Son (1996) and The Shore in 2012.
Oorlagh George started her journey into the world of film on productions such as Hotel Rwanda, Inside Man, American Gangster, Munich, Duplicity, and The International. It was in 2014 that Oorlagh’s first feature screenplay Stranger With A Camera was chosen by the Sundance Institute for the Screenwriting Lab.
Her latest film, Stranger With A Camera, is set in County Down and is about an American teenager who comes over to Northern Ireland with her father during the Troubles, but he is arrested for implication in a murder related to the IRA 17 years previously. She is left adrift, and links up with a bad boy, distant relative as she delves into the families past history in order to understand the past to work out the future.
Speaking on Screenplay NI, Oorlagh George said: “This is a story about the power of empathy among young people in Northern Ireland, as they try to make sense of a history shrouded in secrets and transcend the boundaries and burdens they’ve inherited. Gráinne grows up with a trauma that doesn’t have a story. This film is her fight to understand the events that shaped her life, in order to move on.”
The lead role in Stranger with a Camera is played by Ellie Bamber who played in the BBC production of Les Miserables. Ellie is supported by an experienced cast. The murals in Killough vilage are dramatic visuals including a gunman in a balaclava with Killough and the Mournes as a spectacular backdrop. And there is no doubt that Killough could be a venue for film buffs who want to visit the ‘George film trail’ in the future.
A number of ‘locals’ are aboard the film as extras, and one of the small estates in Killough will be colourfully emblazoned with Union Jacks representing a loyalist estate for one of the film’s scenes.
There is no doubt that the dramatic billboards in Killough, re-named Ballykillen for the purposes of the film, will create a lot of interest both across Ireland and with the American diaspora.
The plot of The Shore in a sense reflects Stranger with a Camera in that a daughter arrives in County Down and has to unravel a past in a similar way that actor Ciaran Hinds did in his role in The Shore, in trying to make sense of his own past when he left during the Troubles, later introducing his daughter to his circle of friends from a bygone life.