The Spellman Centre in Ringsend, best known for their work in response to drug abuse and other related issues, are adding a new string to their bow in the fight against addiction.
They’ve just commissioned a short film called, ‘The Tunnel’, which was written by and stars the centre’s own service users. As it turns out, the entire experience has been such a positive one for all involved that the Spellman Centre now hope to add film and drama as an additional therapy offering for clients moving forward.
The film tells five harrowing real-life stories from the point of view of one individual who, while out walking one day, enters a tunnel and comes across various items on the ground which remind him of his friends. We then see each friend’s individual struggle with homelessness, attempted suicide, domestic violence, transgender discrimination and drug abuse.
The man then exits the tunnel and finds himself at the Spellman Centre where he meets his friends, who have all survived their distressing journeys. Although the accounts depicted are real, the actors don’t play out their own stories for obvious reasons, but it was the exercise of assuming someone else’s role, and standing in their shoes, where some real insight was achieved.
The project, which was directed by Pat Larkin, the drummer with The Blades, originally had a run time of 15 minutes but an additional 12 minutes were later added showing service users telling their own stories. “This is much more than a film,” said Larkin. “I live up the road and I was shocked to hear stories of what others in my neighbourhood were going through”.
Manager of the centre, Teresa Weafer, said the film is “our way of highlighting hidden harm and an opportunity to send a clear message out that recovery can happen with the right resources.” The film also features a Damien Dempsey song called Serious, that he kindly gave permission to use.
The Spellman Centre, according to Weafer, is seeing an increase in young people presenting with a range of different issues. She hopes that ‘The Tunnel’ will be shown in schools and prisons as a way of raising awareness of what’s happening in our communities.
In addition, the centre runs a drug awareness campaign from April to June each year, culminating in a graduation ceremony where service users declare themselves drug free. It is hoped that the film will play an important part of that initiative, and will prove the catalyst for future creative endeavours in the future.
By Paul O’Rourke