18 May 2014

I Have Lied.

There are elements of this blog post that have been in my drafts since New Years, and I'm dreading finishing it. But it needs to be done. I need to be honest, and I need accountability.

There's a reason I've been missing in action from the blogosphere for the past few months, well there are a few reasons. This is the main one. As I've spoken about in previous posts, from September to December of last year I was working on a documentary film about healing. That film is finished, and only a handful of people have seen it. As I'm not prepared to show the film online right now, I'll tell you how it goes - the film opens with me stating my intentions - I want to know more about miraculous healing, as growing up in a traditional church left me unaware of it for the most part. Fair enough. The rest of the film follows me interviewing people who have seen God's healing power in their lives, and at one point going out onto the streets to see I could witness this power in action. I conclude the film by happily stating that seeing and hearing all this has helped me grow in my faith, and it's all so lovely and there's uplifting music and oh gosh what a wonderful world I live in hooray!

I have a confession to make. I have lied. I have lied to myself and I have lied to my audience. Let's look at some quotes from my closing monologue -
  • "Seeing that woman walk away with a new spring in her step, and full of joy, made my day, and helped renew parts of my faith that were wavering" - lie
  • "Hearing all these stories, seeing the people on the street receive healing, has all inspired me" - lie
  • "I've chosen to have that faith" - lie

There is only one part of the film where I tell the truth about my faith, and you can't even tell. In a shot of folded up journal entries, there lies the truth, and you can't even see it. In these journal entries are my true feelings on the subject - I'm struggling; this isn't helping me in my faith; I believe these people have been healed but something's not sitting right in me; something is missing from this etc.

Honestly, I was not okay. Somehow the process of making that film left my faith in a worse place than when I began. Somewhere along the line my view of God got warped and twisted, I found myself becoming increasingly cynical and I felt very alone in my faith. I don't know why this happened. I really don't know and there are days when I weep for the damage my faith has received in this past year. I was sure that it would help things, but it did not. I was left feeling cheated. And I have to be honest with you. It's taking me a long time to get better. I often have to sit myself down and remind myself that yes, God does still love me, because most days I'm just not feeling it. There are glorious days when I feel close to him again and I just wish those days would last forever, but they don't. I'm still cynical, I'm still bitter.

I think what I need to explain is just how important this film has become to me. It was such a personal film, dealing with my own faith. It seems now it is almost metaphorical for my faith. I have not worked on my film since December. I don't like thinking about it. But the thing is, I'm still determined to finish it. I want so badly for this film to reach it's potential. I want to finish with a real, honest film, that takes my doubts and my fears and puts them aside for a faith in a miraculous God. I have had conversations with people having the same struggles as I am that fill me with conviction to give them a film that will help them. And I think that if this film does reach its potential, it could help people. Somewhere, the answers I'm looking for are out there, and I'm determined to find them. I don't know how long this will take. But I'm determined it will happen.

But in the mean time, this is where I am. I'm stuck. I need prayer. I can't bear my faith struggles any longer and I just want to be back where I was previously, loving God and loving life. I don't know what else to say. I like ending on a high note, but I just don't have one today. What I do have is so many questions about healing and faith. I'm not going to list them, I don't think that's necessary, but they're there. I don't know what I'm going to do next. I'm hoping that God will throw something my way that will make everything clear and I'll go out and film something wonderful and get back on track. I don't know, I really don't know. I have so much to say about this, but I'm trying to keep it short. If you like praying, please pray for me, and pray for my film. There's potential in both of us, but we're not seeing it right now. I really hope it comes soon. Proverbs 17:22 says - "A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones." I think that's relevant. Praying for a cheerful heart right now. 

As always, if you want to talk to me about the film, or well about anything, I would love that. You can e-mail me - jo@joyfulmourne.com

Thanks for reading. Sorry for the whine.

24 Jan 2014

My Talented Friends

I mentioned in a previous post that I might do a masterpost of a few documentaries that have been uploaded online by my classmates, so this is it, as promised. I'm very blessed to work with such talented people. And they're not just classmates, we're all really good friends. I'm very proud of all the work that everyone has done! There was such a variety in the styles and subjects of the films and that was really cool to see. And now you can watch their work too, in no particular order. Now when they all become famous filmmakers you can say you've seen their work here first. I've just managed to find four films altogether, but hopefully there will be more soon. Give them your love -

A Kind of Sleep - dir. Eilidh Mitchell
This was definitely the scariest documentary out of all of ours. It is a study into the state of sleep paralysis, focusing on the mythology surrounding it. A really interesting and gripping film. 

The Weight - dir. Rasmus Räni
An interesting character study on amateur bodybuilder Gavin Smith, as well as an exploration of the idea of bodybuilding as a lifestyle. Rasmus has always been very talented with a camera, and this certainly shines through here. 

Trouble - dir. Kathryn McGrane
Another character study here, this time on an ex-IRA member. Being from Northern Ireland myself I really enjoyed this film, but those unfamiliar with the Troubles will also be intrigued by this man's stories. 

Mors Sceptra Ligonibus Aequat  dir. Kyriaki 'Sandy' Sigala
Sandy's film is a good example of how varied the styles are within our small class. This is an experimental film focused on death, and death rituals in various religions. It's a very fascinating film, keep an eye out for the sky burial scene, it's my favourite part. 

31 Dec 2013

A Letter To 2014

Dear 2014,

I am excited for you and I am terrified of you. I've always been quite good at peering into the future and having a good guess at what the time ahead was going to be like. For example, in 2010 I could tell that a huge change was coming, right before my entire friendship group got turned on its head and I found myself in a much better, entirely different friendship situation. Coming into 2013 I knew that that year was going to be, well, 'defining' was the word I used, and I wasn't so sure what that meant. And, well it turned out to be just that. I spent the first part of my year on an absolute high. My community in Edinburgh was amazing, I felt more at home in that city than ever, I was making films with people I love and things were just going well for me. I found that I had become the best version of myself I had ever been. I was confident, enough so that I was able to tell my testimony on stage in front of hundreds of people the night I got baptised. I was closer to God than I'd ever been. I conquered many fears, which truly amazed me. However, in the months following and since, I began to struggle with my faith. I suppose the higher you get the harder you fall, right? I'm not going to lie, I'm still struggling a lot right now. Until the start of December I hadn't felt close to God in months, and it's just slowly starting to come back. But God is teaching me through this struggle, I know that. Through the good times and the hard times, it has been defining. I have learnt so much about myself and I am grateful for that.

But 2013 is over. Now it's your turn 2014. I want you to be a great year, 2014, I really do. And looking at my plans for the year, you have the potential to be the best year ever. I do have big plans for you. I want you to be the year that my filmmaking takes off. I want to release my documentary, Unboxed, and if I have the time I want to make another documentary. Joyful Mourne Media has been a huge dream of mine for years now, and it's slowly starting to come into fruition. That's incredibly exciting, but I feel in my heart it will have truly begun when I release Unboxed. That's where you come in, 2014. I'm counting on you to be the year that all this happens. To be honest, I'm absolutely terrified. I don't want to screw this up. I don't want to screw you up. I guess I don't know how things are going to turn out, but I can hope and I can pray. 

Aside from my filmmaking goals, I want you to be the year I come back to a good relationship with God. That's something I need above all else. I want to get back into journalling regularly; I want to be interested in reading the Bible again; when I worship, I want to be really worshipping, not just singing a song that I like; I want to pray and fast. My faith is the most important thing to me in my life, so I should start acting like it is. That's my goal. I need that strong faith to support all my goals, it's so vital. And God deserves everything, my all. So I should give it to him. Yes. This is going to be the year I fix my faith. 

And you know what, 2014? Let's make it fun too. Let's go rollerblading, let's go on holiday, let's make snowmen and take my sister out more. Let's go hiking, and photographing, and let's make more friends, while getting even closer to the old friends. Let's laugh until we cry, and not worry about what others think. This could be the best year ever. Let's do that. I'm going to hustle my way into a great year.

2014... It's a pleasure to meet you. 
Love from,

30 Dec 2013

2014 Spade List

It's that time of year again... this is a list of 50 things I'd like to achieve in 2014. Every year I usually acknowledge that I'm not going to get all of them done, but there are always a few that are extremely important to me to complete amongst the not so important ones. I'll blog about those important ones later! In the mean time, enjoy -
  1. Make a short film
  2. Go to America
  3. Get a new job
  4. Read the LotR trilogy
  5. Enter a film/photography competition
  6. Host a party
  7. Go to jazz bar
  8. Learn basic Irish phrases
  9. Buy a printer
  10. Do something I've never done before
  11. Hustle!
  12. Release 'Unboxed'
  13. Make a snowman
  14. Go to something at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival
  15. Have a friend/family visit me in Edinburgh
  16. Have a friend visit me in Northern Ireland
  17. Have a photograph published / exhibited
  18. Go to a concert
  19. Get a tattoo
  20. Learn Adobe After Effects
  21. Give blood
  22. Run 5k
  23. Take up a personal photography project
  24. Unplug for a week
  25. Achieve a 'merit' in university
  26. Build an amazing pillow/blanket fort
  27. Write 40 blog posts
  28. Watch the sun rise on Murlough
  29. Feel competent in my painting/drawing ability
  30. Bring a friend to church
  31. Journal daily, even if brief
  32. Take instant pictures
  33. Do something to be proud of
  34. Host a film screening of one of my own
  35. Enter my final year of uni
  36. Fast weekly
  37. Fill a sketchbook
  38. Go to France
  39. Pull an elaborate prank
  40. Read 30 books
  41. Introduce my flatmates to Irish food
  42. Celebrate my 21st
  43. Spend a night stargazing
  44. Get a flat stomach
  45. Write a letter to someone telling them how much I appreciate them
  46. Rearrange my bedroom
  47. Watch 100 documentaries
  48. Complete a YouVersion Bible study plan
  49. Volunteer somewhere
  50. Have a great year

12 Dec 2013

Thoughts From The Irish Sea

Fun fact: I am currently writing this post from the middle of the ocean. I finished semester one of my third year of university on Monday and so now I am relaxing on the Stenaline Superfast, on my way back to Northern Ireland to spend Christmas with my family, boyfriend and friends. I could not be more excited right now! It's been a long semester, and I'm ready for what I feel is a well deserved break after all my work in the past few months. After a lot of work including a presentation, a 3000 word essay, two photo stories and a documentary film I am finished! Huzzah!

Yeah, remember that documentary film I talked about making? Well... I made it.... kinda. On the 2nd December I attended the screening on my film along with the films of all of my classmates. At this point I'm going to make a side note saying that I'm so very proud of all my classmates. They all made great films and it was so exciting to see everyone's hard work pay off. Making a film on your own (as I discovered myself) is a very challenging experience, and it was probably the most challenging thing I've personally done in university or school. So to see around 15 films that people made all by themselves, but were also of a really good standard, was really great. Perhaps if enough of them put their films up online I might make a masterpost of some of the films so you can watch them, cause they were really great. Well done guys, you did good!

Anyway, back to my film. At 17 minutes long, with three interviews, my own personal thoughts, some constructed scenes as well as other things, one could certainly make the argument that my film was finished. But personally, I don't think so. When I set out to make this film I was feeling very ambitious, I knew that I could make a really interesting film with this idea. However, as I went on and kept working at it, I realised that even while making a short film, I was never going to have enough time and resources to make this the film I want it to be. That was a bit disappointing, but that's not to say I gave up. Instead I started concentrating on just trying my best to make a film that would do well at uni. I did slightly feel that I was conforming slightly there, and I'm a bit ashamed of that. But, the reason I was doing that was because I decided that I would work as hard as I can and for as long as necessary to make this film the film it was originally meant to be, the film it is supposed to be. I know that it has potential, and I want it to reach that potential. I am now aiming to be finished in Spring. Not many people have seen the 'uni edit' of my film, but the final cut will be bigger, better and hopefully will glorify God more.

And so I'd like to introduce you to my upcoming documentary film - 'Unboxed'. It is an exploration of the gifts of healing and miracles, asking questions like - does God heal today? Why / why not? What can we understand about this concept? How can we be sure it's real? and more. As well as this, part of the film reflects on my own personal journey of faith, as I begin to learn more about miraculous healing. Now to make up for the fact that you won't be getting to see the film for a while, despite many people assuming it would be finished now, I've uploaded a little sneak peek. I'll be uploading more of these as time goes on. 

And there you have it. I'll try to be a better at updating everyone with it's progress, I didn't do that as much as I'd like to over the past few months. Right now, with the production of this film going on, seems like a good time to I guess officially launch 'Joyful Mourne Media', the name under which all my films will be made under. For those who are all about the social networking, you can follow what we will be doing via these sites -

Website: www.joyfulmourne.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/joyfulmourne
Twitter: www.twitter.com/joyfulmourne
Vimeo: www.vimeo.com/joyfulmourne

And if you'd like to contact me privately about anything, you can do that by e-mailing me at jo@joyfulmourne.com

21 Nov 2013

The Trouble With Northern Irish Films

Now I don't often rant like this, so bear with me. Tonight out of curiosity I just had a little look at a list of all known films set in Northern Ireland. Out of all the ones I could get information on (around 50 films), I counted five that didn't explicitly use the Troubles as a plot point. FIVE. Now, my source is Wikipedia, so obviously this could be inaccurate. And this has not been a thorough search on my behalf. But if this is anything to go by, it looks like 9/10 films based in NI revolve around the Troubles. And I have issues with this. 

Now, don't get me wrong, I have nothing against making films about sectarianism or the Troubles. It's our history, and a real part of many people's lives, we obviously can't ignore it. And yes, you could say it's a interesting and gripping subject for filmmaking. This is not me putting down any film about the Troubles. This is not me putting down the stories that are being told here. There are great films about it out there, Mickeybo and Me happens to be one of my favourite films. Yes, sectarianism is still a big issue for us, not as much as it has been the entire time our country has existed, but yes, it's still there. We can't deny these things and therefore obviously they're going to be a big part of our art. But come on!! Have we nothing more to give? 

Northern Ireland has a booming film and television industry. Anybody who's familiar with Game of Thrones probably knows this already. We have one of Europe's largest film studios, a fantastic crew based there, a vast amount of talented actors and filmmakers, and we've hosted some really well known Hollywood films in the past few years. We have the capacity to make amazing films about anything we want to. 

A sidenote: It's worth noting (as my boyfriend pointed out to me) that it's only recently, within the peace process, that films not about the Troubles are most likely to be made, because it isn't as present an issue anymore. That is true. But it's also worth noting that the Northern Irish film industry is only a recent thing itself, with the vast majority of all these films, about the Troubles or not, being made in the 90's and onwards. 

Northern Irish filmmakers, I get it that you want to make films about your history. And that's okay. That's good. Embrace your culture. Deal with your past. Tell those stories you've grown up hearing. And yes, keep making those films! But hear me when I say this. The Troubles are a huge part of our lives, but they do not define us. What does define us? Our infectious friendliness, that crazy accent of ours that other countries somehow find attractive (what), our dark sense of humour and ability to laugh in the hardest situations,  our overuse of the word 'situation', our little inside jokes, our fine baking skills, the way we know everyone and their cousin, our musical culture, and so much more! Can we focus on that instead? We lack the diversity that other countries have in their films, and I believe we need to fix this, for our own sake. 

It may not be true that 9/10 films set in Northern Ireland are about the Troubles, but certainly this is the impression we're giving. Let's show the world that we are not all the sectarian extremists that they might believe us to be. Let's make romance films that aren't retellings of the Romeo and Juliet story between a Catholic and Protestant couple. Heck, let's make a thriller film where the murderer kills people unbiasedly, instead of just people from the opposite side of the community! Make a documentary film about the farmers in the Mourne Mountains. Make a fantasy epic based at the Giant's Causeway. Make a drama about the workers at Harland and Wolff. I love Northern Ireland, I believe we have so much to offer. Let's show the world that. 

View of Belfast from the sea

29 Oct 2013


I'm on the beach, standing at the edge of the ocean and Jesus is standing beside me. I see a shoreline far away in the distance and I don't know what it is but I do know that I really want to be there. Jesus says to me, "Let's go then," and starts to walk on the water. I stay still. He turns and reaches out to me, offering his hand. But I stay where I am, staring at the water.
"I don't know how," I say.
"Just try," he says.  
I hear what he is saying and I know that if I have faith that I can do it, but I just have this fearful image in my head of me setting my foot down and it just sinking through the water. I know that Jesus wants me out there with him but I don't want to fail him or let him down by sinking. I know it's possible, but I don't know if I'll be able to. I want to walk. I want to walk so badly but I'm paralysed by fear at the waters edge. It's like I don't want to try it until my faith is strong enough.  
"This is what I fear," says Jesus, "With that attitude, I fear that you'll never feel strong enough. I fear you'll stay there forever waiting for a better time. Just come. You're always going to want for a stronger faith, no matter how strong you get. So please, you just need to come, take my hand and try." 
And so I take my very first step, half stumbling and terrified; I grab his hand and he holds it tight.

This is something I found myself writing down whilst at my new student community tonight. I'm not sure where in my head it came from, but after seeing it written down like that I found it rather comforting. Challenging, yes, very challenging, but comforting too. I just thought I would share it on here for anyone else who might be feeling the same way I do right now.