The Family Way
We meet in a sun dappled garden with an olive tree above our table. Laura comes in with her long hair shining, looking like she just stepped out of a shampoo commercial - which is apt as she has been involved in drama since she was a tiny child. She has tread the boards and served her time in her own family’s drama & theatre workshops, dressed up in outrageous costumes, painted sets, and generally cut her teeth in all things artistic.
She didn’t lick it off a stone as we “Yella Bellies” like to remark. Her parents are Michael Way and Irene Wright and they are as well known in drama and theatre circles as a begging ass. Michael is at present hard at work directing “The Tempest” for a Wells House Production, and Irene is finally ready for her close-up as she graces a number of films at present. More of which anon.
Laura studied Art in W.I.T. and was then a broadcaster with South East Radio for a number of years. She has been a professional film actress for 8 years, and has also been directing for the last four. She completed her thesis on Collaboration & Conflict in Film and received her Masters in Digital Feature Film last year.
She is excited to tell me that she has just taken a call from the Screen Directors Guild of Ireland to announce that she is one of the very few people nominated who will get to use the crème de la crème of cameras – an RRRI Alexa – which is on loan to people of exceptional ability and with a proven track record. She does not say this, I do. This is the kind of camera they shot “The Life of Pi” with.
She is delighted to be behind the camera and it feels like home.
“Actors are so protected on set from the politics of the production so directing threw me into a completely different space. As an actor, you can be personable and eager, and keen to please, but as a director you are fighting for autonomy and shots and control” she says. We break to laugh about a crazy production we both worked on – “Wow, I had forgotten we served in the trenches together!”
Since that time she has been diagnosed with AND recovered from cancer, had another baby - (a much loved son called Cal - he is the surprise brother after 14 years to her daughter Lara) and she has written, directed and produced a number of shorts and features including – “Sugar Stick”, “ Jonny Boy”, “Speed Trap” and appeared on TV , and the BBC series Foyles War and the new film How to be Happy with Brian Gleeson.
Laura directing Jon Polito in Jonny Boy
Next on her agenda is a full length feature film called Rough Cut and she will use the loan of the superior camera to shoot a promotional film for this on location in Berlin. We discuss the film and the ambitious twists and turns in the plot and the shoot. We get side tracked and wander off talking about directors and our favourite shots in movies, mine being the single tracking shot over Talking Heads live on stage in the amazing “This must be the place” with Sean Penn and Frances McDormand, and hers being the shot of Marion Cotillard in a dream like sequence where she bursts onstage after realising her lover is dead and sings heartbrokenly in La Vie en Rose. She tells me to watch Cachet. I tell her to watch Dogtooth.
“Film making is the most demanding and expensive art form” she continues. “That is why it is important to have very high standards visually and creatively and to be on the same page as the people around you, who need to help and steer and guide the film in like a ship to harbour.”
She has noted some bad habits creeping in on some sets and feels that production values should be set in stone from the off. “There is nothing glamorous about the film making process” - we laugh as we remember a break in shooting where we had retired to a pub where the whole crew was starvin’, freezin’, soakin’ and parched and she tells me how she was sweeping water out of a room at 4am last week. She has also directed her own Mother, Irene in two of her films and is detached enough to be able to coax an amazing performance from her in a death bed scene. She also praises her amazingly multi talented sister Abigail. “Abbie is just unbelievable, she can turn her hand to anything, and is a great MUA ( make up artist) and artistic talent where she can paint anything I ever need, the cool thing is that she is my sister and I can say – no, that’s crap, that’s not what I meant and we can start again”.
Jon Polito, the veteran American actor discussed Laura in a recent interview. “When I was in Barton Fink, the Coen Brothers were just that, now they are the Coen Brothers! It’s good to keep in touch with people you meet on set, and that is why Laura is so great. She advised me to pull back my performance and underplay it - Because of the people I meet on shoots I intend to keep on working for a very long time”.
On the set of Jonny Boy
Laura’s ambition now is to secure funding for Rough Cut and to make an exceptional debut with a seamless top quality film whereby she will become a known filmmaker at international level. I am expecting to be sitting in the front row at the Premiere.