Katie Mccullough Talks and Writes

Words will get written here and some videoblogs will appear. You don't have to look but it would be nice if you did.

Firehouse Films – The Result! July 6, 2013

Here’s the resulting film from the Firehouse Film Creative inaugural film challenge I was invited to do. Six writers, six directors, one room. We’re all paired off after being picked at random from a hat and we’re all played the same stimulus. It’s a recording of a woman talking about how she remembers her grandmother being the life and soul of the party, a real chatterbox. But as age takes over she slowly begins to talk less and less, a former shadow of herself.



So there was our stimulus which we could take anyway we wanted. I was paired with director/producer-duo Dave Thomas and Nell Garfath-Cox who were living in Worthing when we started the project together. I’ve mentioned before how I like to have imposed restrictions as it gets the ideas flowing thick and fast, so this was no different. Although I’d never had to do something so restrictive over a prolonged period of time. A month. One month to write, shoot, edit and finalise a short film with no budget. I was worried that the initial adrenaline rush would drop once we were out of that room and as the days ticked over. But I knuckled down to the script and vomited something down as soon as I could so the momentum would tide us over. And collaboratively myself and Dave worked great together – we’d email the drafts with notes and work out where we both wanted to go, and it worked. People seem to avoid particular areas of collaboration because they feel exposed, or that they feel they have to bend to somebody else’s whim. That’s definitely not the case. You discuss points and open them up. You never have to take on every note, but you’ve got to have a good reason for going against it. And if you can articulate that reason well, then there’s nothing to worry about.
Anyways. Script done.
Then we had an issue with a location. I’d written the script for one location, but it was proving difficult. So much so that the script that was written so soon after our initial meeting… Was actually shot on the last weekend of the month. It was so close to not happening at all. But then the lovely Beatrice Curnew stepped in and saved the day by letting us take over her house (and cook a whole roast meal) for the short. Thank you Bea!
Here are some shots of the filming in action.








I thoroughly enjoyed watching Ingvild Deila, Ian Houghton, Dorothy Lawrence, Oliver Malam, Dave Thomas, Nell Garfath-Cox and Sarita Tam all work. I know that I’ve made some friends from this, and there’s more delights to come.


Another Collaboration – But Online With @Gerryhayes March 15, 2013

I’ve been working on a thing, yeah another thing. Because I like being busy, but also because I like exploring different avenues of creativity. And I’m a sucker for coaxing people into a collaboration to make them think differently. And one of my victims/co-collaborators is the delightfully grumpy yet loveable Gerry Hayes. Gerry and I got chatting to each other on Twitter many years back now, and were also contributors to an online magazine called Metazen. Whether we found out about each other on there or vice versa has yet to be remembered. We shared mutual writers that we spoke to online and also a sense of humour, which is what Twitter used to be about (!) and since then we’ve embarked on a project that has kept us tinkering away the last couple of years. It’s not a whole wealth of work we admit, but the idea is that the work actually exists. If we hadn’t created this project then nothing that is held within it would come to fruition. So there. Check out the link below for the work that’s been done so far (and obviously keep checking back, we’re both very proud of each one of our nuggets.)

The Beloved Box – an online collaboration between Gerry Hayes & Katie McCullough


The Beloved Box

The photograph that kicked it all off and gave the project its name.

But excuses aside, that’s the very point of this project. It’s unfurling at a deliberate pace because that’s how the project works. These projects never have an end goal of a timeline, it’s meant to breathe and wheeze in and around real life. The Beloved Box was pitched to Gerry by email in March 2011 and as you’ll see by the time stamps on the website, sometimes we’re flowing quickly and other times we’re taking our time. It’s about creating the time and space to fail but also flourish. It’s a creative exercise to keep the brain ticking knowing that there will always be a response but an unpredictable one.
Gerry is a brilliant photographer and has a keen eye for capturing visuals that I find exciting, lyrical almost. After email discussion we decided on keeping the theme open so we didn’t restrict ourselves and also really explored the content we could create. The idea was that we would respond to the other’s piece of work and it could be in any medium – photograph, film, sound, text – but each offering had to have a title and this was as important to the project as the content itself. The title comes from the first photograph that kicked the project off, taken by Gerry.
So this has become The Beloved Box which is a fluxing sprawling narrative based on what has been offered up before. A creative tag-team, a more inventive wordplay game passing on the creative beacon. With Gerry based in Ireland and myself in Hertfordshire, we’ve been in contact by email passing on our creative responses. Gerry kindly created the website and updates it as and when our new works are finished.
What I personally enjoy about this project is that it’s not demanding, it’s a creative stimulus that pops into my inbox every so often and I have the urge to reply. It’s part of a bigger project but I’m focused on the pebble sized chunks and it’s keeping my brain ticking over. This is the main reason why I start these projects with other people – you have the incentive and necessity of not letting someone down and in return produce new work. Everyone’s a winner.
[The above has also been posted by the author Emily Benet on the Mslexia blog here.]


Ship Notes March 27, 2012

I’ve managed to flex my writing muscle in several ways on different projects, each beneficial in their own way. Twitter, whether you like it or not, features heavily in this flexing. It anchors me down to be as precise and clear cut about what I want to say due to the character restriction. Regardless of content it’s a great way to coerce yourself to be more aware of editing. Plus you can see how other people do it too. It’s not for everyone, but I love it. It’s a case of doing things together, en force.

This has hung in my dentist since I can remember. And I've been going to him as long as I can remember.


This also ties in neatly with Ship Notes. I approached a good friend and fellow creative, Neil Fox, about embarking on a collaboration. It was decided that we would do this. And then the project came about very organically. Myself and Neil have created a fictional relationship out of post-it notes left for one another on a fictional fridge. We’ve conversed in short pithy and poignant post-it notes for an entire year. The relationship we’ve crafted has had glorious moments of beauty and also shitty pockets of malaise through the text. And nothing has been planned. The only thing we were certain on was the fact each note was going to be written on a post-it note so therefore couldn’t be too long, and that we would do it for a year. No stress on how many we had to do, both Neil and myself are busy folks, just await the email in the inbox and respond when you can. The importance on what we wrote was significant. One moment one would be the crutch, the other the victim of selfishness. It really was quite powerful to experience. And when you read the thread back it kicks you around because they are glimmers of a relationship, part of a bigger picture. Things are mentioned that never resurface, recurring moments weedle their way when you least expect it. And all in all it’s a collage of a relationship that both myself and Neil have collectively and instinctively explored. And wow it’s been a real kick to the gut sometimes. The power of a few sentences or even a few words has really made me hone into the language I use in other areas. It’s made me boil down the essence of my long-winded conversations and made me pin it to the mast to act as someone else’s springboard.

Found this and various other cues glued into a book on the shelf in The Arcola.

It’s a project that has left me smarting at times and also completely enamoured. Many times I’ve opened the email to find myself breathless at the next chapter or laughing incredulously. It really has felt like a relationship that I’ve been on call for when the email pops up, an emotional rollercoaster in every way. And I cannot wait to show them off, but we’re not ready yet. We have two brilliant photographers, Laura Wood and Ben Woodall, who are embarking on a similar journey using our notes. But when we’re ready, you’ll be the first to know.



Collaboration March 19, 2012

I’ve been asked a lot over the last few months about how I can be so busy with different projects. My response is that I actively seek collaborative partners so I keep creatively stimulated. The other major influence for me wanting to delve into the collaborative process with projects like Ship Notes, Simone, Nascent Collage .etc. is because it makes me do work. By including other people you’re actively spurring them on to do work and therefore creating an environment where you too have to respond. In essence you’re not wanting to let anyone down. So you do the work. If only for that reason alone, it makes me work hard. Some people may not like that approach, but it works for me. It keeps it simple transaction.

“If you don’t do the work you will let someone down. So do the work.”

And voila! I do the work. It actively engages your brain with the notion that if I do A then B happens. It’s something we already know but it’s putting it in a different context. I apply it to all areas of my work. In my own theatre work I’ve gone out of my way to avoid doing what I need to do, we all do it. For me a lot of my work is off my own back which means there are no enforced deadlines or definite productions so I meander through the weeks and come up with excuses. But because I’m juggling different projects it makes me focus in on what I need to do. It crafts its own work schedule.

Binshit is not a word. But it’s part of the creative process of elimination…

“I’ve got to respond to so-and-so’s part of the project and then I want to do some brainstorming on my play, oh and by that time the other so-and-so might have got back to me with their next chunk of the project so I’ll look at that…”

Overall it makes me aware I’m generating work for myself. And that’s how it should be. It makes me feel like I’m doing something and keeps me busy. And when I say busy I don’t mean it just in the literal sense, but I mean creatively busy. I’ve been lucky in that so far two collaborative projects have worked so well that the end fruition will be displayed to the public. But that should never be the end goal essentially – if you embark on something only because of the end result you’ve got your perspective all wrong. Fair enough you may have a project you want to release into the world, but the thought has to be put into it otherwise it’s a hollow shell of what it could be. And that ‘thought’ translates as work. It should be an area of your life devoted to keeping yourself creatively fresh and bouncing off ideas with people, helping someone else out of a creative funk and being a support but through your work. The idea should always be, “let’s create an environment where we can fail and it doesn’t matter”. Nothing should be sacred, nothing should be too polished otherwise you’re not really listening to each other. It should be one big experiment, nothing is concrete. Not only will it allow you to explore areas that you might not have pondered on before, but it will also heighten your awareness of working with other people either in the same medium or a different one.

I’m not saying that everyone reading this should instantly fire off an email to a whole bunch of people demanding they work on a collaborative project. But I do suggest mulling over if there’s someone you know in a different creative field who might be open to the suggestion of ping-ponging some ideas. You never know where it will lead, but I bet you anything you’ll learn something from it. Whether it’s never to do it again or not is another thing. The absolute worst that could happen is that it doesn’t work for you. It’s just an idea. 


Can You Spare a Story For Nascent Collage? February 18, 2012

I’ve been involved with a project called Nascent Collage for roughly about 2 years now. There are three of us involved: Mary-Anne Pennington and Natalia Wilkoszewska. It’s how I met illustrator Natalia who I’ve worked with on Simone and our newly started project, David. Nascent Collage is something that’s been bubbling under the surface as it’s more of a longer project which will result in a book. You can find out more about my co-collaborators on the blog: http://nascentcollage.wordpress.com/
Nascent Collage is about recapturing the stories of childbirth and making them more than just a time and a location. Sharing these stories allows us to engage with the concept of motherhood as not only an individual experience, but a universal connection. By illuminating the diverse cultural stories in one collection we’re allowing our stories to carry on being told and remembered. Unlike other childbirth books and projects, our focus is on the emotional response rather than the scientific. We’re listening to mothers tell us their stories and passing them on to other mothers around the world.
The book will be a collection of stories from around the world and each will have their own illustration. We’re in the process of collating stories from all over the world so we can capture as many different cultures and experiences of birth as we can. This is where we’re asking you if you can help. Are you a mother reading this that would like to take part? Do you know of anyone who would be willing to share their story with us? We’re after the further flung places rather than in the UK at the moment. We’ve got a brilliant story from a woman who was a surrogate mother for a gay couple who has written a letter to her daughter. We’ve also covered Russia, some areas of the US and are in the process of securing a story from Africa.
Our goal is to create and publish the collection as a book. If anyone would like to offer their services with regards to that or lend their support we would happily listen and welcome your thoughts.
For an example of a story and matching illustration please click here.


Our Objectives
– To connect people by providing a collection of intimate stories that detail the one unique primary event each human shares in common.
– To illuminate the diversity of different backgrounds and cultures with a collection of stories from around the world.
– To provide the opportunity for people to appreciate the uniqueness of each birth.
Our Unique selling proposition
Unlike other childbirth books and projects, our focus is on the emotional and whimsical aspects as opposed to the scientific and physical. It is our humanity that makes us equal and yet unique, and there is nothing so human as being born. Listening to mothers tell the beginning of our stories is an out of body experience that allows us to see something that carries absolute value regardless of what we believe or know about it. By collecting stories from around the world we are providing an opportunity for people to connect worldwide in an emotional and personal way.
I’m not a mother myself, but I do think the conversation of how we came to be very important. No matter how old you are, you are always someone’s child. If you think you can help out please contact us on the blog: http://nascentcollage.wordpress.com/contact/


Simone Workshop January 19, 2012

Natalia and I will be presenting a creative writing workshop in tandem with the Simone exhibition that’s at Oxford House. Do feel free to come along as,

a) it’s free

b) it would be nice to see you


c) we’re wanting to get people collaborating, like we have, in different mediums.


So if you’re a shy writer who doesn’t feel like they have what it takes to write a full length story… Come and see if there’s a photographer who could help you collate one. Or if you’re a painter who has dabbled but only does it behind closed doors… Maybe see if there’s a fellow painter who wants a stimulus from month to month. The main objective of the workshop is to discuss and experiment with responses to different mediums and how to generate ideas. Not only is it free, but it’s in a nice place and you’ll get to see the exhibition too as it will take place in the cafe. Give us a shout if you’re coming along and if you can’t make it, feel free to pass it on the someone who can. Here’s the blurb:


Creative Writing Workshop

by Katie McCullough & Natka Studio

Café Gallery, Oxford House

Wednesday 25th January 2012

7.30 – 8.45pm

All Welcome!

Katie McCullough and Natka Studio collaborated in a creative version of

‘Consequences’ to create their project, ‘Simone’, which is currently displaying

in the cafe at Oxford House.

Merging the written word and illustration they have forged a unique

collaboration. Using simple exercises and exploring their approach to the

project they will be discussing how you too can forge creative relationships.

Materials will be provided and the workshop will be free of charge.

Exhibition takes place till the 31.01.2012, in the Oxford House cafe.

Katie Mccullough – Writer


Natka Studio – Illustrator



Simone Exhibition News January 14, 2012

Filed under: London — katiemccullough @ 10:31 pm
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The exhibition was a success! And because I was so busy shoving wine into people’s hands and urging people to eat I didn’t manage to get any photos of the folks walking around looking at Simone. But I took one before it got busy and, because I’m chuffed with all the canapés I made, mostly of the spread. Because I know you want to see what I made.




Limited Edition prints are now available online. We’ve already made two sales with our Limited Edition prints, one on the night and one the very next day. This pleases myself and Natalia a whole load of lot. I thought I’d take the opportunity to say thanks to those who came (about 40 over the whole night) and to urge those who couldn’t make it to go see it now. It’s on at Oxford House till 31st January and it’s in the cafe so you can grab yourself a nice cuppa/java and stroll around. It’s a great building tucked away off the main road and it’s always got stuff going on in there as well as other artwork.
If you’d like to buy a Limited Edition print the information is below:
Style – Giclée print
Paper – Hahnemühle Photo Rag (308)
Size – 420mm x 520mm
Limited Edition Run – 50 of each image
They are for sale for £90 (which includes p&p) and you can browse them here.
And we’ll be doing a workshop in conjunction with the exhibition in the next week or so and we’ll have more news on that soon. No doubt I’ll be hollering on Facebook/Twitter/this blog here nearer the time.