2 October 2022 The Irish Film & Television Network
The Glue That Holds It All Together
20 Oct 2014 : Dylan Newe
Jordan Stephens and Billy Howle star in E4's Glue
Two-time IFTA Short Film Award winning director, European Film Award nominee and Screen International Star of Tomorrow 2013 Cathy Brady is known as one of the country's most promising young filmmakers and tonight makes a splash onto British television screens as the director on the acclaimed eight-part drama series 'Glue' on E4. Created and written by Jack Thorne, best known for Skins and This England '86 and '88, this darkly realistic series portrays a group of teenagers in a rural English countryside village and the murder investigation that follows after their 14-year old friend Cal is found dead.

Combining a cast of young up and coming actors (Yasmin Paige, Callum Turner) with some well-known newcomers (Jordan Stephens from the pop group Rizzle Kicks), the series has been received well by critics with The Guardian praising how it "captures the ennui of country life in unsettling and visceral fashion" and The Telegraph saying the series “evokes the isolation and prejudice of a small community with a distinctly modern twist”.

There are elements in Jack’s writing (rural outsiders, the impulses of youth) that can be compared to your own mini trilogy of award-winning shorts (Small Change, Morning and Wasted), is that what drew you to the script?

When I heard about the project initially it was that knife-edge of youth and vulnerability and extreme activity which completely captivated me and then you begin to realise how quick death is and how the possibility of death is so real, and I just thought there was huge drama in that. There's a certain nuance in Jack's writing and a real poetry in the way that he explores little moments where characters talk about past experiences and dreams so he's got a heightened world within the world as well. With the episode that I have as well, it was meant to be a bit of a break from the thriller aspect of the series, so I'm not going to spoil it too much, but it definitely aims to explore the relationships of the characters which is obviously something I could really get my teeth into. This episode in particular concentrates on two characters specifically, Rob and Tina's story which is something which we really get to explore. So it's got a bit of a different flavour to the previous episodes in terms of getting to know the characters more and hopefully emphathising with them a little more as well. In this episode it's where all the characters start to grow up a little bit and there's a part where we get to see Ruth coming to terms with where she belongs and where her loyalties lie, and she starts to really have to question that.

This was your first time working on episodic drama at this scale, how was that process?

I was fortunate enough that I was on board quite early in a way, so while I didn't get to have any say over casting or the look of the series I was very much aware of how it was evolving so right from the get-go I was seeing the casting tips coming in and reference shots. Then when it came time to shooting I was constantly watching rushes which was really interesting because I was getting to see how each actor worked, what each actors little tic was so I felt like I was quite prepared going in knowing what was set up and how I would pop my own little twist on things. But in terms of coming to this as my first TV show, it was a massive challenge. The rate at which we were shooting at was incredibly fast, it was like 10 days to shoot the episode and we had two days where were shooting nine pages a day which is incredible speed which I've never really worked at before, but when you walk away from it you realise you can do it, when you've got a really strong team around you. But yeah it is a balance of realising the bigger picture of what you're setting up but equally having the confidence to put your stamp and detail into it.

How exciting was it to work with this amazing young up and coming cast of future movie stars?

I was lucky enough that I told the producers how I work with actors, which is quite organic and that I was hoping to be able to use that approach as much as possible even though I was working on a very structured series in terms of how it shoots and how fast it shoots. So I had asked for as much rehearsal time as possible and it was great that I managed to get that, I have slightly experimental ways of approaching rehearsal and it was great, I got to really open up and explore the script through music and physicality so it meant that by the time we got to set the actors already had trust in how I worked and also being able to pick out a range of performances very quickly so that if something isn't working you have to be so quick to find an alternative, so it was great that there was space for me to use some of my own techniques and fast track it within the TV environment. And I think all those little things about coming slightly differently into performance, it just sets up a little bit more freedom and inspiration and I think that's what's so good about the 'Glue' casting is that the actors are so true to themselves and when you see them on screen they really do embody the character and it was quite a fine line at times, like where does the actor exist and where does the character exist because they were so well cast.

The episode airs tonight, will you be scrolling through Twitter like a mad woman to see the reaction to it?

[Laughs] No, it'll be really interesting, I'm just gonna go with a couple of friends and watch it in the pub!! I'm not quite sure what to make of it all yet but it was really hard work and I'm really proud of the team around me and what we were able to do together.

Finally, what’s next for you?

I have been lucky enough that my feature film ‘Wildfire’ has got funding from the Irish Film Board and I'm coming at it slightly differently, so I've got funding to research a story idea which I've already cast quite early. The story is inspired by real events so the last few weeks I've been meeting a number of experts, psychologists, social workers with my cast, soon we'll have workshops and then the idea is by Christmas I hope to have a skeleton of the story. So I've been busy and it's great to be able to have the time and the money to be able to do it properly. I really want to put a bit of a pressure cooker on this one because of how I'm working with improvisation, so ideally I would like to be shooting by next summer.

Glue airs on E4 Monday nights at 10pm and you can watch the full series on demand here.

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