Seizing hold of life

Seizing hold of life photo:
Shooting and Cutting: A survivors guide to film-making and other diseases
by Stephen Bradley (Mercier Press, €14.99)

Film maker Stephen Bradley is the creator of Noble, the 2014 drama about the true life story of Christina Noble, the children’s rights campaigner and charity worker in Vietnam, who founded the Christina Noble Children’s Foundation.

Some years ago Bradley was asked in an interview with a magazine at Trinity College, where he had taken his law degree:  “What is the most useful piece of advice you’ve ever received?”

His answer was forthright.

“It wasn’t directed at me specifically but the great Spanish film-maker Pedro Almodóvar said ‘if you want to be successful in the film business never give up!’”

This memoir deals with both film making and with never giving up, both on film making or life.  Having worked in England for some years, and achieving a fair level of success, Stephan Bradley and his actress wife returned to Ireland. But this move home coincided with a diagnosis of stage four cancer – as he says himself there is no stage five. His life was turned upside-down and inside out.

Creativity, and what it can achieve under pressure, is a strange thing”

This book recounts the path that he and his wife and their cohort travelled over afterwards. The long courses of surgery and medical treatment were difficult. But today he is now cancer free.

The sheer determination – originating perhaps in the determination of every artist to achieve what they need to achieve , which is a special kind of success, an integral success, quite alien to that which bankers and business men achieve – played  a strong  role in the process. Creativity, and what it can achieve under pressure, is a strange thing.

Shooting and Cutting is remarkable story, and a cheering one, in that sometimes it seems that with pain and anguish things turn out better than we might have hoped.

As Stephen Bradley tells us at the very end, in the last lines of the book:  “As for the here and now, I have two revelations that surprise me: I am without a sense of melancholy for the first time in three years. I am anxious no more.”