Some books have a special magic that just grab you very unexpectedly. Shooting and Cutting : A Survivor’s Guide to Filmmaking and Other Diseases by Stephen Bradley is one such read.
In 2016 Stephen Bradley was diagnosed with stage IV cancer. As a film director, scriptwriter and producer, Stephen Bradley was used to working on projects focusing on other people’s lives so he made a brave decision and decided to document his own journey in this stunning and very poignant memoir.
Recently published by Mercier Press, it is described as ‘honest, humorous and, most of all, entertaining’. I feel extremely honoured to have been sent a review copy of this book which is a unique and very exceptional read, one that I just cannot recommend enough.
Please do read on for my full thoughts…..
[ About the Book ]
It’s April 2016. Stephen Bradley has just spent a very hectic year and a half promoting his latest film, Noble, as it was released across the world from Los Angeles to Cannes to New Zealand. What he doesn’t know, until now, is that during the same period he was also developing a Stage IV cancer that has now spread to vital organs.
Shooting and Cutting: A Survivor’s Guide to Filmmaking and Other Diseases alternates between the journey of Stephen’s life-changing treatment, his renewed sense of purpose in current work projects and war-stories from twenty years of filmmaking. The style is honest, humorous and, most of all, entertaining. The narratives intertwine with pace, twists, turns and as many cliffhangers as possible. As an account of life on the edge, the book is full of unexpected detail and emotional nuance.
[ My Review ]
‘Much of this book was written under the influence of opiates, steroids, antibiotics, benzodiazepines, antiemetics, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, with bouts of cold turkey, and sharp injections of love and good luck‘
– Stephen Bradley
Stephen Bradley holds back very little in this warts and all story of the road he has travelled over the last number of years. What started as a checkup with his GP, a trip encouraged by his wife, actress and comedian Deirdre O’ Kane, turned into a frightening diagnosis. Stephen Bradley candidly speaks about this time, an experience that must have been truly horrifying for him and his family. As he walked in the doors of the A & E, little did he know how radically his life would change.
‘The CT scan shows a shadow covering half of my liver.
It indicates an abnormal growth of large and worrying proportions.’
Stephen was advised by a friend earlier on in his treatment to jot down notes describing his experiences as they happened. With the onslaught of medication that was ahead of him, his memory would struggle to remember this most traumatic of journeys. This advice proved invaluable to Stephen when he began to assemble his first draft of Shooting and Cutting.
Stephen Bradley is an inspiration. Deirdre O’ Kane, his wife, is a powerhouse. As a team, they are a formidable force, with their joint approach to dealing with the cancer diagnosis a truly extraordinary accomplishment. As Stephen lay ill in the hospital or at home, Deirdre O’ Kane kept the show on the road. Unbeknownst to us watching the TV, as Deirdre was Dancing with The Stars, her private life was in turmoil. But the show must go on and Deirdre did just that, supporting her family through these years, while privately dealing with her own personal troubles.
Stephen Bradley writes about the after in parallel with the then. In interspersed chapters we read about his recovery, where he is now, what future plans he has, alongside the overview of his time spent undergoing the various surgeries and treatments. His pure black humour, his turn of phrase all add a lighter dimension to a very serious subject, making the experience of reading this book a very unique journey for all who embark on this passionate and enlightening tale.
Stephen takes us back to his childhood, part of which he spent in Cork, so it was an absolute to delight to spot a few familiar locations dotted throughout the book. He writes about his beloved sister Fiona, who passed away in 2002 from cancer and how this added an extra dimension to his own diagnosis, in particular how they would tell their children.
Shooting and Cutting: A Survivor’s Guide to Filmmaking and Other Diseases is a book that everyone should read. Stephen Bradley is an exceptionally inspirational individual. His turn of phrase, his descriptions are excellently portrayed and his approach to his diagnosis is uplifting and quite profound.
Shooting and Cutting: A Survivor’s Guide to Filmmaking and Other Diseases is a remarkable read, an emotional read, a truly extraordinary read.
Buy the book folks. I promise you will not regret it, You will feel uplifted and inspired by the words of this incredible and modest man.
‘Wherever it may take me, I am well-armed and ready
I am on the road’
-Stephen Bradley, The Fighting Man
[ Bio ]
Stephen Bradley is a film director, scriptwriter and producer who started working in the business as a producer’s assistant on My Left Foot in 1988. His films have won several awards at film festivals and awards ceremonies in the USA, Ireland, Italy, Canada and Spain. He has also directed feature-length documentaries, many award-winning television programmes for RTE, TV3 and TG4, and stand-up comedy shows for Universal and EMI.
He has written and directed for many well-known faces including Brendan Gleeson, Andy Serkis, Brendan Coyle, Domhnall Gleeson, Cillian Murphy, Sir George Martin, Andrew Scott, Ruth Negga, Toby Stephens, Pauline McLynn, Samantha Mumba, Brendan O’Carroll, Sarah Greene, Liam Cunningham, and his own wife, comedian and actress Deirdre O’Kane.
He is a Board Member of The Screen Directors Guild of Ireland and Managing Director of Danman Films.
Twitter – @stephensfilms