When Birds Fly Short Film

In rural Ireland, bankrupt, lonely farmer and pigeon fancier Thomas is dealing with a deep depression, haunted by his past and fed up with his present he is ready to end it all when one of his prize pigeons returns home with a message, a cry for help, in its leg ring.

Determined not to let the past repeat itself, Thomas sends the bird away with a response, a promise to help and begins a race against time, with the help of his nosy neighbour, Dorothy to solve the mystery and save the day.

  • Laura Mac
  • Laura Mac
  • Laura Mac
  • Andy John Bradford
    Key Cast
  • Cathy Brennan-Bradley
    Key Cast
  • Emma McCaffrey
    Key Cast
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  • Runtime:
    14 minutes 56 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    January 31, 2020
  • Production Budget:
    3,300 GBP
  • Country of Origin:
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Director Biography - Laura Mac

When Birds Fly is Laura Mac's writer-director debut short film, funded by Northern Ireland Screen in collaboration with British Film Institute Network and Lottery funding.

Since graduating from Queens in 2009, Laura has worked for some of the biggest TV production houses in Northern Ireland , including Fire & Blood, the production company behind HBO's Game of Thrones, Stirling Film & TV Production and BBC Northern Ireland.

In 2014 she completed the NCTJ Award in Journalism, winning the Paul Robinson Journalism award for her short film A Guide to Healthy Living that same year. Since 2014 she has been published in multiple NI magazines, writing features on social issues and arts topics. 

In 2018 she wrote her first script, a 30 minute comedy pilot "Meave & MIke", this was placed in the top 14% of the BBC Writers Room for that submission period (2018).

"I've always written fiction, in my scrap books, in my head, but I never had the courage to put my creative work 'out there'. After I turned thirty that fear subsided somewhat and I began to work on some script ideas and entered them into competitions. Being placed in the top 14% by the BBC Writers Room really bolstered my confidence and the next natural step was to get one of my scripts produced."

Post production of When Birds Fly took place in LA, whilst Laura was studying screenwriting at UCLA and working remotely for the BBC.

She is now back in Belfast and completing research for her next film project. She hopes to begin a Masters in Screenwriting in 2020.

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Director Statement

"For a period last spring (2019) I spent my weekends working in the BBC Radio Ulster phone room for some extra pocket money. That's actually were the main idea behind When Birds Fly came about. Every time I worked a shift I would get at least one 'suicide call' and there was a pattern to them. The callers were all older gentlemen, mostly farmers or people living in rural areas who were really struggling with modern life and all were in dispair and deeply depression  It was heartbreaking to hear someone crying on the phone to you that you can't really help beyond giving out helpline numbers.

"Even in University when I made shorts I tried to have an element within them that was about a greater social issue, then when I was writing magazine features I followed that same ideal. When I wrote a feature about a local women's shelter I knew that if one person got help after reading that piece it meant something.

"When Birds Fly was written, in part, as a conversation starter, to highlight the depression epidemic within our community, espically within the older generation and to say there's no shame in needing to reach out for help, wether that be from family & friends or medical professionals. In this case Thomas asks for Dorothy's help in finding Chloe but in doing so Thomas realises there is someone in his life that he can trust and reach out to.

"At its core it's a friendship story between Thomas and Dorothy and what it means to be able to ask for help when you need it. Without Dorothy, Thomas may never have been able to find Chloe or re-find himself and move on from the past that haunts him so much.