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"Sparrow is me!" Based on life experience, an Irish construction worker writes script winner

Set against a crumbling inner city council estate, 'The Hill' follows Tony "Sparrow" Ryan as he wrestles with resentment and hostility towards the Local Housing Service, who are in the process of evicting him from his family home. With nowhere left to turn, he must ask his estranged thirteen-year-old son for help.

McNamara's new short script 'The Hill' won our script competition last month, and we took the chance to find out more about him and his writing:

How did you get into screenwriting?

After returning to college as a mature student studying film, I wrote a screenplay as part of a college project which gathered a lot of traction locally and nationally, so by default from that point on I guess I became a screenwriter.

Is this what you now do for a living?

Right now, I am a construction worker from 9-to-5, and any spare time I get when I’m not hanging out with my wife and three kids, I write screenplays.. early mornings, late nights, sitting on buckets in a cold building site.. I’ll write!

What is your preferred genre to write and why d’you think that is?

It’s strange because I’ve always wanted to write sci-fi or horror, but as I mentioned earlier during college, the project I wrote was a family drama.. and since then I’ve been writing dramatic visceral, grounded, scripts.

Where did you get inspiration for ‘The Hill’, particularly the lead character, Sparrow.

'The Hill' was basically a product of the environment that I grew up in. I've taken many different elements from my life experience, and people I grew up with, and amalgamated them together to form the narrative.

Every single obstacle that the lead character, Sparrow, encounters I have experienced myself in one way or another throughout my life, but thankfully I’m coming out the other side now!

Sparrow is my father. Sparrow is my brother. Sparrow is my cousin. Sparrow is me!

It reminded us a lot of “I Daniel Blake”, perhaps because we only just watched it recently. Was this an inspiration, or pure coincidence?

It’s actually amazing how many times people have said that to me. I have never seen the film, but I must actually give it a watch because I hear great things about it. I wrote The Hill in 2014, as a feature length screenplay, and I believe that was before (I Daniel Blake). Since then I’ve adapted it many different times and in many different formats, so I guess yeah it’s a coincidence.

Are you seeking finance to make this film yourself? Looking to sell? Or find a director/producer for it?

I’m looking for all of the above... please.

Before you go... here's the trailer for McNamara's latest short film, Narcan.

More info about Peter McNamara:

A highly imaginative film-maker with a solid five years of experience making shorts films. Strong passion for writing real life people and all their contradictions, and bringing it to life through independent film. Enjoy working with a variety of actors and crew members at many different experience levels.

Having been chosen by Writer/Director Gerard Stembridge (Ordinary Decent Criminals and About Adam) as one of the winners of the Film Limerick (script-writing initiative) would go on to write and direct two successful short films (Narcan) and (Day Off) both screening on RTE Shortscreen, (ShortsTV) and Aer Lingus. Shortlisted GFC / RTÉ Short Film Commission 2018. Limerick Short Film Bursary Winner (The Hill) 2018.

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