The Fall's Bronagh Taggart enters into boxing ring in new film
The Fall actress Bronagh Taggart tells Jenny Lee about a new female-led boxing short film set in west Belfast which she will has written and will star in
TELEVISION viewers may know her best for her role as Gail McNally in The Fall, but Bronagh Taggart is also a keen scriptwriter. Now the Belfast actress has announced her first film project – Guard.
Scheduled to shoot in Belfast early next year, it boasts an impressive production team, including Emmy-award winning casting director Richard Sterne and Bafta winner Michael Lennox, Oscar-nominated for his short film Boogaloo and Graham in 2015.
Having penned much of BBC Northern Ireland's 6 Degrees, Disney's The Lodge and CBBC series Dani's Castle, this is the first time Taggart has written a role with herself in mind.
In the film short she will play the leading role of Katie, a west Belfast girl who "wants to be able to handle herself, should she ever need to".
Guard revolves around what happens when Katie's life is interrupted by the return of her dad Kieran after 15 years in prison. He initiates Katie into his old world of boxing. In the ring she takes the punches and tries to learn from him, but getting Katie to drop her guard outside the ring will be Kieran's toughest battle yet.
"Gritty realism" is how Taggart describes the script she penned last winter.
"It's a strong story and a Belfast story. Already we've shot promotional pictures at Casement Park and we will be making use of all the boxing clubs there," says the former St Louise's student.
"With the popularity of Conor McGregor and Ultimate Fighter I was intrigued by that sporting world – and to set a female against that very male setting is what I was interested in."
Taggart has been training for the role of Katie for the past nine months. "I wanted the script to be authentic and I was never going to get that unless I entered into the ring myself. Boxing is a great workout and a great skill to learn, but it's hard."
She studied drama and film at Queen's and been acting since 2004, but "plucked up the courage" to pursue her writing dream by entering a script in a Bafta writing competition. An impressed BBC NI invited her to join the writing team for 6Degrees and the rest is history.
Still enjoying acting, she hopes to continue combining both passions. "One helps with the other and I don't think I could drop either."
And does being a writer make her more critical of the scripts she receives as an actress? "It can, but it also inspires me when I receive good writing."
One such writer she has been influenced by is The Fall creator Alan Cubitt.
"It has been a dream to play a strong female character alongside Gillian Anderson. I was so proud to be a part of The Fall and to learn from the likes of Alan Cubitt. He's been so encouraging and a great help to me."
Guard is a family affair as Taggart has teamed up with her husband Jonathan Harden, who will direct the short, to set up the production company Honesty Inc for this and future enterprises.
"We are interested in telling good stories honestly, so the name seemed obvious for us," she explains.
Currently filming Stephen Frears's Victoria and Abdul, opposite Judi Dench, Northern Ireland-born Harden is best known as series regular Sean Rawlins in ITV crime drama Unforgotten, and has had roles in Peep Show and The Truth Commissioner. The Guard will be his directorial debut.
As a result the couple are ineligible for funding from NI Screen and have turned to crowdfunding to raise the funds to cover the initial production and have created a number of perks for those who donate, ranging from tickets to the screening to a credit as the executive producer.
They will be pledging 5 per cent of the total amount raised to Women's Aid NI, a charity offering specialist services for women, children and young people who have experienced domestic violence
"Without giving too much away, it will become clear in the film why we choose this charity," says Taggart.
And how does she feel about being told what to do by her husband? "As long as it stops on set. I'll start directing at home," she laughs.
:: For further information and to support Guard visit Belfastboxingfilm.com