Bray – A Reminder is a short film written by playwright and songwriter David Doyle, directed by Rita-Marie Lawlor with Justine O’Rourke as the lead Mary-Jane alongside Tommy O’Neill from Fair City. Film Ireland headed to Wicklow’s coast to find out more.

Bray – A Reminder is a short film about reminiscing. We are introduced to Mary-Jane who is torn between moving on with her life and being stuck in her past while dealing with grief and despair. 

Writer David Doyle had originally written the piece for theatre. “I was involved with the Tallaght Theatre Group and in 2017 we performed a trilogy of original plays under the umbrella name of Beside the Seaside – all pieces were set in Bray. I wrote two myself – Bray – A Reminder and Stolen Time and I co-wrote Braywatch. I had met Justine through the theatre and she introduced me to filmmaker Rita-Marie Lawlor.”

Justine was originally interested in recording Bray- A Reminder as a monologue. However, when Rita-Marie read the play, she had the concept of making it into a short film. “The more I read it the more I could feel the intense emotion and sadness of the piece”. 

David, Justine and Rita-Marie had their first production meeting on 15th March just before the first lockdown. From there on it was Zoom meetings, phone calls, and emails. The three got working on getting the crew together and mapping out the shoot dates while wondering if it was going to happen at all.

“It was pretty awkward with insurance and permits, in case we had to cancel,” says Rita-Marie. “I set the date for 15th September and after a few meetings with the crew, we were good to go, not bad considering we were six months in prep and with all of the restrictions.”

 Justine O’Rourke and Tommy O’Neill

It was the first time Rita-Marie set out to produce and direct someone else’s work. “It was a new challenge and I thoroughly enjoyed the whole process of taking on something which I didn’t write, it was very new to me. I loved the story and the poignancy of it, reminiscing  on when I used to go to Bray as a child, it was really like a mini holiday and that’s why I wanted the flashbacks scenes and photos, the kids and the happier times in Mary-Jane’s life”.

Justine’s gripping performance included submerging herself fully clothed into the icy Bray waters, creating eye-catching cinematography under the watchful eye of director and producer Rita-Marie and the talented DOP Patrick Hughes, who came from Armagh to help create their vision.

“Bray- A Reminder follows the mind’s journey of Mary-Jane inspired by the said name song by Alanis Morrisette. Mary-Jane is a character unlike others I have played before and I thoroughly embodied the essence of this grieving woman,” Justine explains.

Friend and fellow actor Tommy O’Neill plays her husband in flashback scenes while Justine’s nephews Oisín and Caelan play her sons, adding to the chemistry between the actors.

 Justine O’Rourke

Rita-Marie told Film Ireland she had worked with Tommy O’Neill before and “it’s always a joy, we were lucky to have gotten on so well with each other and to also work with yet again with the very talented director of photography Patrick Hughes, whom I worked with on two previous productions. I think it’s crucial to have a good rapport with the camera department as I have with the very talented editor John King, whom I have worked with for ten years”. 

Talking about the central premise David explains that he had written a poem called ‘A Reminder’, “exploring the grieving process as easy to find memories of our loved ones on a beautiful sunny day and a miserable rainy day. The reason being, that they are within us and we are merely transposing our emotions to any external events. When it came to writing Bray – A Reminder, I decided to combine my memories of day trips to Bray with the emotions of the poem. The character in the short play became the vehicle to help with my understanding of how memory and grief unite to both help or hinder each other. She has decided to return to Bray on a regular basis, and is in long term limbo between loss and coming to terms with it. The idea in her mind is to try to relive some of the happy moments of her past, to help her cope with the grief in her present. Bray is her symbol of hope. It may also be the reason for her emotional paralysis”.

Next up for Justine is a role in Stephen’s Gaffney’s upcoming feature film, currently in pre-production; a dark comedy/ thriller with filming due to commence in January. While David will develop Stolen Time from Beside the Seaside Trilogy along with numerous other works and Rita-Marie is focusing on developing her TV series Natural Born Strugglers, a co-production with RML Films and Sticky Tape Productions, as well as editing Bray-A Reminder… remotely, for the time being.

Bray – A Reminder on Facebook


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