Back in 2013 I helped with the promotion of a short horror movie called 6 Feet Under. The film was part of a competition for Chanel 4 (UK) called Shortcuts To Hell, and their short made it to the final round.

Now the team are back – only this time they’ve got something on a bigger scale – and when I say bigger, I mean it’s about 10 times longer than 6 Feet Under, but it’s still got a tiny run-time just falling short of 15 minutes.

Writers Paul Skillen and Aaron Gray are back with director, John Carlin and producer Marie McDonald for a new sci-fi short called The Way back. The new time-travel short was shot around Northern Ireland in some really beautiful and haunting locations.

The film was mostly funded by N.I Screen – with a further £4000 raised through a successful crowd-funding campaign.

I can’t fault the short at all, it’s great –  it has the story-line of a feature film and it looks and feels like one. Somehow they managed to wrap everything up nicely in the small running time of the film.

It’s great to see a team with an obvious talent  – and be in the position to see them flourish as writers and filmmakers. These guys keep going from strength-to-strength, and I can guarantee you that it wont be long until we will be seeing a feature-length from them.

The film has already been selected to show at Belfast Film Festival and has been entered into a lot more – so hopefully these guys will get the attention that they deserve.

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One of the locations where the movie was shot was a place called Cairn Wood in, Co Down. The whole place was destroyed the day after the shoot due to an outbreak of some contagious disease…here is what director, John Carlin had to say about it the experience.

Cairn Wood

Time was just as big a player in fact as it was in the fiction. The forest scenes in The Way Back were filmed in Cairn Wood, Holywood, County Down. Post securing the location an outbreak of larch disease was discovered in the neighbouring Ballysallagh Forest, just a few hundred meters away. In an attempt to wipe out the disease an extensive cull of the trees was announced. In the 2 weeks leading up to the shoot vast areas were destroyed, with almost 7,000 trees felled. Sadly this resulted in the complete destruction of Cairn Wood Fortunately on the day of the shoot the area we were due to film in was still intact and filming proceeded without any problems. But the very next day after we wrapped the full area was destroyed, meaning The Way Back captured the popular local landscape of Cairn Wood in its final day.Ironically, if a reshoot had been required we would have had to travelback in time to get the shot!


Liam McMahon Lacy Moore and Ella Hayes

The Way Back stars Daisy Haggard, Lacy Moore, Liam McMahonDiona Doherty, and Ella Hayes

Kitty Rose Greensword

Official Plot

Faye is driven, dedicated – a woman of science.. On the eve of her

research team’s seismic announcement – the discovery of time travel – a

stilted, bitter phone call to her mother makes clear to her that nothing

she can do will ever be good enough.

She knows full well why – the void left by her younger sisters absence..

When Faye was a girl, and supposed to be watching over her sister, she

disappeared, leaving loss and blame.

Faye breaks into the lab, commandeers her team’s equipment and goes

back to try to discover what happened


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Director’s Statement

Having collaborated with the Paul Skillen and Aaron Gray (the writers)

on two previous occasions I was intrigued when they first brought the

initial concept of The Way Back to me. Not only was there a strong

narrative of real human regret and loss, it was, most interestingly, told

through strong female characters. I saw The Way Back as a unique

opportunity for a fresh take on the normally male dominated sci-fi



The story is set within two time periods of Faye’s life, as an 11-year-old

girl and then as a successful physicist in her 30’s. The initial challenge

was when the story should be set. Although the aim was to keep it

timeless, the element of time travel needed to be addressed. In order to

give this a better sense of believability these scenes had to be set in the

future. Budget restraints meant we were unable to go down the ‘flying

cars’ route so I came up with the simple device of using futuristic digital

displays in these scenes. The past was set in a period that was generic

and removed from any defining moment in time.

The overall look and feel of the film was extremely important. In order

to define the past and the future I set up two unique themes. Firstly, as

the past was set in a ‘happier time’ and outdoors I decided to keep

everything loose, natural and organic. These scenes were filmed with

steadicam, handheld or on a loose head. This free flowing movement

gave the scenes a sense of air and lightheartedness – but also fitted well

when the more dramatic scenes set in the past played out.

In contrast the future takes place at night – and this use of the night,

artificial lights and water became the theme. It represented the lead

character Faye who lived her entire life under a shadow of guilt and

blame. But these lights were the glimmers of hope as she planned to fix

the past. The water/liquid theme that runs through all these futuristic

scenes are there to represent the flow of time.


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