FOR young filmmakers Sarah Henry and Bébhinn McCarthy, making their art is almost a form of therapy. And their next project will be a homage to the place they now call home — Cork city.
The final year students of Creative Digital Media at Cork Institute of Technology (CIT) swear by the therapeutic impact of “creative self-expression”.
“Creativity is the raw expression of your feelings and is also stirring emotions in others and seeing that other people empathise and relate to your feelings,” Sarah says.
To provide a creative outlet for Cork’s young, gifted writers and as the plot for their next short film, the visionary duo have now launched a project called PlotTwist.
PlotTwist is a creative writing contest with almost no rules but a simple structure: a few photos of Cork city and two characters, played by actors Sarah Kelly and Sean Keating — shown on the right hand page — form the basis of the plot and writers can get as creative as they like to pen a story for Sarah and Bébhinn’s new short film.
“We thought of giving a visual narrative to people to start from that creates a structure, but still allows them to have a huge amount of freedom with their interpretation of the photographs,” Bébhinn says.
Sarah, 23, and 25-year-old Bébhinn, who live in Bishopstown, initially teamed up to work on a similar film project for college.
“We thought we would ask people to tell us a story based on a visual narrative, and we got 20 stories, and they were so creative. Some people took the tangible items in the photographs as metaphors, others as just objects,” Bébhinn says. “They were different themes to the stories, we got lots of stories about the Repeal the 8th movement, and we thought that was very interesting.
“Also, both of us enjoy stories, and we love making scripts and putting our creativity on top of others’, so we loved reading through those stories,” Sarah says. “It was so exciting that we said to each other, ‘We’re actually enjoying this’, she recalls, smiling.
Inspired by the creativity of Cork writers, they have now decided to produce a professional short film during the summer employing the same method.
Cork city is going to be an essential element in Sarah and Bébhinn’s new film. The creative duo say they would like their work to be an ode to Cork. Although originally from Dublin, Cork is Bébhinn’s favourite city. She bursts into laughter talking about her first arrival in Cork as a “hard-partying” teenager.
“Six years ago I moved down here as a crazy 19-year-old who just wanted to party and didn’t care about college,” she says.
“But I did a lot of growing up in this city, and it will always hold a special place in my heart.
Sarah, who is originally from Sligo, says their film is going to be a “thank you” to Cork and its people.
“I feel very welcome and comfortable here. I enjoy the people, and I love the city. So, this is our way of saying ‘Thank-you, Cork’,” she says.
Bébhinn adds: “I express myself through creativity, through the videos that I make and the poems that I write.
“I’m not very good at walking up to someone saying, ‘I’m feeling sad today, or this issue is getting me down’.”
Sarah and Bébhinn believe our education system does not take advantage of the healing effects of creativity.
“There should be resources available to provide more creative outlets for people so they can express themselves,” Bébhinn says. “Academics are also important, but you could be good at maths and still be able to write poems, paint, sing or dance.”
The CIT students say that swimming against the stream is only encouraged in pre-schoolers, and that children are forced to reset their creative minds once they enter the education system.
“We are told to stick to the rules. What is interesting is that when we are kids, they tell us that we can paint with our fingers and do whatever we want. But for some reason, as we get older we are told to stay inside the lines or not mix paint and crayons,” Bébhinn says.
Diagnosed with dyslexia at a very young age, getting creative has helped her overcome her fear of writing.
“ I’m dyslexic, so writing was always a very scary thing for me, but then my mum put me in speech and language classes and writing camps to express myself freely, and it gave me a huge amount of confidence. I put that confidence into being creative,” she says.
According to American clinical psychologist Charles Benayon, the average person has 60,000 thoughts per day, and 95% of them are exactly the same, day in and day out.
Getting creative, however, stimulates a “meditative state” in which people temporarily forget all their troubles and become engrossed in the creative activity at hand. As a result, creativity reduces stress, increases positive emotions and induces self-esteem and a sense of accomplishment.
“Creativity means being unapologetic about how you feel because it comes from deep down of you, it is your emotion, it’s how you see the world, so you should be allowed to express yourself,” Bébhinn says.
Sarah, whose short film Joe competed at Schull’s 2018 Corona Fastnet Short Film Festival, says their initiative is also about making the film industry more accessible to the public.
“The film industry seems so unreachable and so hard to be a part of unless you study the topic. So, we’re also letting people be a part of film production,” she says.
Bébhinn and Sarah plan on entering their film into various festivals — hoping to show off their favourite city and the talent of its writers to the world.
Creative Corkonians can send their stories to Sarah and Bébhinn through www.plottwistproject.com.