December 14, 2020

Would you still be entertained if you could see me cry?

Catriona MacLeod | Misha McCullagh , 24

FilmHOWL, 2020

I wrote a draft of the script that would become ‘HOWL’ in 2014 while studying for a Masters in Theatre. I was in my early twenties, had moved to a new city, and was concealing my downwards mental health spiral from the outside world. With a deadline looming, I wrote ‘HOWL’ to self-soothe and to make sense of the pressures I felt. 2020 has brought back this anxiety and now was the right time to revisit a piece that celebrates art and entertainment as balms for the soul in times of strife, but challenges the viewer to consider those who continue to create do so in difficult circumstances, sometimes at the expense of their mental wellbeing. That said, our scrappy-but-determined filmmaking process is a testament to the creative spirit. Glasgow-based actor Misha filmed on her iPhone while I directed over Zoom from the Scottish Hebrides and then edited on a dying laptop. We realised just how much we were expecting of ourselves despite living through a pandemic and we ultimately chose to play for laughs, yet the pressure to entertain an audience hungry for escape is ever-present and our emotional reservoirs as artists are only so deep.