• Charlie Vogelsang

Interview With Laurie Barraclough, Director of Hey, Ma

Image of Laurie Barraclough

Award-winning writer and director Laurie Barraclough has an incredible talent for creating delicately tender and intimate stories focused on humanity.

Whether it’s documentaries, music videos or short films, he never fails to deliver elegant and natural stories.

Following the huge success of his second short film, Clementines, Barraclough returns to deliver another film called Hey, Ma. The focus is on a girl, played by Eleanor Shaw, who ends up following an unknown woman, played by Emily Raymond, who she thinks is her lost mother.

Laurie Barraclough spoke to Indie Visible about his latest project and what we can expect from the flick.

Where did the inspiration come from for the story of Hey, Ma?

It came from a combination of things, I guess. We’ve all experienced that feeling of seeing a certain person everywhere. Whether it’s someone who’s gone or has broken your heart. You just see their face in crowds or out of the corner of your eye.

I’ve wanted to tell a story about that since I was a broken-hearted teenager. I’ve also always been fascinated by slow car chases. Like in procedural police dramas. So it’s a weird mix of inspiration, but there you go.

In a teaser, we hear Wyldest’s original song for the film called ‘Wilting’. We hear the lyrics ‘walk away from me, like you did when I was three’. How important is music in this story?

Music is massively important in all my films. It’s the driving force behind the films and scenes I love too. For this story, Zoe (Wyldest) wrote a gorgeous song that just expressed and encapsulated the thoughts of the character and the mood of the film so well. She then created a more traditional score for the film out of the song. She’s simply incredible.

I don’t want to give too much away - but the song itself plays in full over the credits which I guess is odd for a short film - but we’ve shot a credit sequence especially for it. It sums the film up beautifully and is just a great song.

In both Clementines and Hey, Ma, the recurring theme seems to be family and loss. How did you approach this delicate topic?

I suppose I approached it in the same way I would approach the topic in real life - with as much sensitivity and honesty as possible. I want my stories to be grounded in humanism and reality. The idea that can’t always say what we’re really feeling is pretty much what drives all my films.

How did you decide on Eleanor Shaw and Emily Raymond as your two starring ladies in Hey, Ma?

So Ellie is actually my partner - as well as a brilliant actress. I kind of wrote the character with her in mind, which is a real luxury for low budget filmmaking. She was involved from the very beginning - helping build the character and her story.

As for Emily, our casting director Cameron found her straight away and she was just perfect. A great actress and, to add to the mystery of the film, a bit of a doppelganger for Ellie.

You wrote, directed and edited Hey, Ma. How did you find these three roles?

I really enjoyed it. It’s quite a short, simple film with only 3 main scenes, so it’s not the most demanding production I’ve been a part of.

Writing was fun. It's a simple idea and I just wanted to create really rich characters and believable scenarios. But as you know, all parts of filmmaking are super collaborative, even if it’s just getting a trusted opinion on a script.

Same with directing. I’ve worked with my camera team so many times on music videos and other film shoots so it becomes pretty telepathic on set.

Deciding to edit myself was mainly due to lockdown - but also because I knew I’d want to play around with the footage an awful lot. I did miss working with an editor though and I'm looking forward to getting that relationship back on my next project.

What did you learn about yourself coming away from this project?

Mainly to look to the people and places you love when things are looking tight. We shot in my hometown, and used a bit of road I know off by heart for the “car chase”. Basecamp was my mum’s back garden and the final scene is shot on the street of an old school friend.

I have semi-consciously developed a director’s trademark. All three of my films so far start in almost exactly the same way. And two with the exact same shot.

Filmmaking has been stunted by the pandemic. What challenges did you face during production?

Besides the obvious stuff like social distancing, masks and sanitising - we tried to keep the crew super light.

Our entire production was nine people. We also tested both actors beforehand for Covid as they had to get pretty close. It was quite a guerrilla way of shooting and it was really exciting because of that.