Research Output

Gift From God

  Screenplay development: from found footage to auto/ethnography:
1. Introduction
In 2006 I discovered a home DV tape with footage of a hyper little girl and a strange couple on holiday in Ireland. Something about the footage seemed eerily constructed and with no way of finding out these people’s identities, I began to make up my own narrative, informed in part by my own experiences and psychology.
I first developed the idea through an artists’ residency called ‘Rough Mix’ in 2010. In 2011, the project was selected for a screenwriting residency run my Playwrights’ Studio Scotland in partnership with mentors from Binger Film Lab in Amsterdam. My mentor was Mollie Stensgaard (Editor: Nymphomaniac, Melancholia, Dogville, The Idiots, Dancer In the dark).
2. Methodology: Auto-ethnography
The screenplay is increasingly becoming an accepted research artefact, particularly in relation to the study of the artistic process. This screenplay is the culmination of 8 years of autho-ethnographic research, which will become part of a multi-componential output.
I completed the screenplay during my participation on the Bellrock residencies in 2017, run my Three rivers films. This year long residency culminated with a pitching session at the EYE Film institute in Amsterdam, hosted by Marten Rabarts.
During the residency I delved deeper in to the material I had written and reflect further on my own life experiences. I found many connections between the footage, my previous work and my childhood.
I began to think about the impact of a 'normal' separation on a child (like myself) but imagined the situation in more extreme circumstances such as the child in the family not belonging to the couple.
By the time my parents separated, aged 7, I already felt displaced and lost. I stayed mostly in my head and became a wanderer, sometimes wandering gormlessly into the hands of almost strangers (despite the recent abduction and murder of a little girl in my school by the child killer Robert Black, which deeply affected me but I never spoke of) but I understood and felt the fragility of grown-ups and didn’t want to disappoint people. I would allow myself to be carried off on spur of the moment trips with unconventional families who were oddly drawn to me, not giving much thought to my estranged parents. They were lost anyway. My experiences and the stories I have learned of other children who have ended up in strange family constructs and unsettling circumstances have compelled me to write this screenplay - the aftermath of a lost little girl’s decision to choose a new mother to rescue her, unaware of the inevitable consequences and heartache.
Gift from God is a psychological drama about a young girl, SHAW, who in the process of discovering herself destroys her ‘happy’ family. After years of travelling around Eastern Europe with her bohemian parents, they arrive to work for a Romanian family on a remote and tranquil smallholding in the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains. The Mother, ALISON -
who Shaw idolises - home educates her, whilst the Father, EAMON tends the sheep, sometimes crying quietly and secretly on the hill. Shaw meets a local boy, SORIN, she gets her first period and past memories powerfully resurge. As she grows closer to the boy, she finds solace in him, his normal family life. Through doing a self-search on his computer using her real name, Seána, she discovers her 7-year-old ghost staring out at her from the screen. After 6 years missing she is now presumed dead by her biological family and the authorities. Shaw’s emotional behaviour arouses more regret in Eamon and as father and daughter form a melancholy bond, Alison slowly looses her grip on family life. Whilst Eamon is away grazing the sheep on the high pastures, Shaw discovers Alison having sex with Sorin’s father. Disillusioned, she makes an anonymous phone call to the police. When Eamon returns from the mountains with a plan to put things right, Shaw remorsefully confesses the phone-call and the family drive off the mountain, still desperate to avoid the inevitable consequences.

Screenplay: https://documentcloud.a...-4519-ad8a-86c2a4928216

Found footage:

  • Type:


  • Date:

    15 May 2019

  • Publication Status:


  • Funders:

    Creative Scotland


Macinnes, C. Gift From God




Monthly Views:

Available Documents