Newcastle West film maker’s documentary debut to be screened on TG4

Alan Owens


Alan Owens

NEWCASTLE West’s Deirdre Cussen is to have her first outing as documentary film maker aired on TG4 this Sunday.

NEWCASTLE West’s Deirdre Cussen is to have her first outing as documentary film maker aired on TG4 this Sunday.

Ms Cussen, 29, who went to school in Laurel Hill Coláiste in the city, made her debut as producer/director on the documentary ‘Bac is Bua’, a poignant programme highlighting the hopes and fears of families living with Down syndrome, which is to be screened by the Irish language station this Sunday.

The programme follows the lives of two families north and south of the border as they deal with the day to day issues of living with Down syndrome, and aims to raise awareness about the abilities of individuals with Down syndrome “who both achieve and succeed and cast aside the stereotype that society has placed upon them”.

As such, the half-hour programme follows the lives of 20 year old Róisín de Búrca, who lives in Lettermore, Co Galway and has completed her Leaving Certificate and is preparing for college, and four year old Elliryn McPhillips and her family, who live in Belfast.

“I started researching it back in February and finished it in July,” explained Deirdre, who took a postgraduate in applied communications for television in NUIG. “It took all that time between going down to see the families, spending time with them without cameras so that they were at ease with the process of cameras following them around.”

While Rósín’s family were open to the process, given how successful the Galway girl has been - indeed Rósín takes the camera herself and speaks openly and honestly about her life through the use of a video diary - the McPhillips family took more time to open up, Deirdre explained.

“It took a lot of convincing, trying to explain what we were doing,” Deirdre said. “When it is observational you are trying to get them to carry on with their lives and you just film it. After a while they really warmed to us and were really honest and open, which obviously helped to make a better documentary.”

The Below The Radar produced documentary was sent to TG4, who immediately liked what they saw.

“I think it was just a lucky break to be honest. We sent it off to TG4 and generally they come back and tell what changes you need to make, but luckily they really liked it from the outset, so maybe it was beginner’s luck,” laughed Deirdre.

Bac is Bua will be screened this Sunday on TG4 at 9.30pm and repeated the following Wednesday at 11.30pm.