Indie Shorts Awards Cannes

Incredible and beautiful storytelling that moves and shapes a person's perspective on the world around them.

Stephen Gallacher

Stephen has over a decade of experience in directing, both as a lead director, most recently on MCDONALD AND DODDS for Mammoth Screen/ITV as well as directing second unit on notable series' including LONDON KILLS (BBC/Acorn TV) and FIFTEEN-LOVE (World Productions/Amazon UK).

Over the last few years, he has been mentored by Peter Hoar, originally as part of the Directors UK Inspire Mentor Scheme, and has worked with numerous household names such as Aidan Turner, Olivia Colman and Jason Watkins. He also directed the wonderful Dermot Crowley, in his most recent short HAROLD AND MARY, a moving and personal story of a man struggling with dementia, which had a very successful run at various BIFA and BAFTA qualifying festivals earlier this year.

Stephen's focus in both his original ideas as well as his directing work is socio-political dramas and intriguing thrillers. With a deep-rooted commitment to honest and meaningful filmmaking, he is always striving to bring authentic visuals to the screen, serving the narrative and the characters at its core.
Instagram: Stephen Gallacher
X: @RealSGallacher

The film delves into the dynamics of a relationship that has spanned fifty years. What aspects of Harold and Mary's relationship did you want to emphasize, and how did you get these themes to evolve as the disease progresses?
The original plan for the film was it to span over the course of a year and see the disease evolve over that time through the seasons. This element slightly disappeared in the final edit, but what stayed was the relationship between Harold & Mary and seeing the decline over a time period. Phyllis is incredible in showing this as she has all the weight on her shoulders as the person who is losing her loved one. Dermot’s performance adds to this, and we wanted to emphasise the loving and caring relationship as much as possible, the fun between them, and the family. The banter between them as a family unit hopefully meant it created a sense of longevity and a proper family environment rather between each character.
Part of the film features significant scenes in the characters' home. How did you collaborate with the production and set design team to create an environment that reflects their history and emotions?
We got so lucky with the house that we found, our original location fell through and a friend of mine offered up her parent’s family home for the shoot. It came with a dog, birds and the goldfish which were incorporated into the film. The design of the house and the feel meant we already had a solid foundation to work from. Our production designer, the incredible Francesca Jones elevated these subtle elements of design to make sure the place felt like Harold & Mary’s house, including the mugs they drink out of, the photos on the wall, the little touches that helped create a sense of longevity by these particular two people. The knitting that Mary is doing, elements that show a passage of time. A lot of these are understated but it creates such homely environment that was a joy to shoot in.
Can you discuss your collaboration with the actors portraying Harold and Mary? How did you work with them to bring depth and authenticity to their characters, especially in emotionally charged scenes?
Again, I got so lucky with Dermot and Phyllis on so many levels, they’re wonderfully kind, caring and thoughtful actors who really want to give their all to a project. With Dermot he would always check where he was in his journey and see if we were pushing too far or not enough, and we’d play with that a lot. He is one of the best actors I’ve ever worked with. When I sent him the script he immediately understood and got it and was so excited to be a part of it. I couldn’t have found a better Harold. Phyllis is an ambassador for Dementia UK so this film meant a lot to her too, and it gave them such a great jumping off point because they cared so much for the characters and the journey and the personal story it told. They’d both worked together before in their careers and knew each other well, so the repour and chemistry was already there, this made it incredibly easy to mould and build that relationship. When you’re working with two of the best that Britain has to offer, it’s about sitting back and enjoying watching them work, and usually holding back tears from how power the performances were on set.