Just the ticket in Norma Sheahan's quest for success

Cork actress Norma Sheahan is one of the stars of a new Irish film that took five years to make, writes Esther McCarthy

INDEPENDENT filmmaker Liam Ó Mochain has assembled an impressive Irish cast for his latest feature, Lost & Found. Ó Mochain drew a cast including Cork-born actress Norma Sheahan, Aoibhin Garrihy and Liam Carney for the movie, about a series of interweaving stories in a lost and found office.

For the filmmaker, it was a major challenge. Even independent features don’t come cheaply, and he filmed for a number of days at a time over a five-year period. As far as Norma Sheahan, who plays a ticket inspector, is concerned, she was impressed by Ó Mochain’s ambition and determination.

“Everyone is drawn to Liam,” she says. “You just want to work with him because he’s so easy, he’s so hardworking, he has big ambitions. What I admire about him, what is essential in this day and age, is if you look at someone like Sharon Horgan, she couldn’t get a job and that’s what forced her into writing. And you never know what will happen with Liam.

“I could list off 50 actors who are doing really well at the moment — why? Because there were so many dreary days at home, unemployed and not knowing how to pay bills, waiting for the phone to ring, that they’re forced into a situation to create their work.

“All the successful actors go out and make their own work and write their own stuff. Try to generate it that way, and I suppose that’s what you’re drawn to. Someone who’s trying to be proactive.”

Featuring seven interconnecting stories set in and around the lost and found office of an Irish train station, all of the segments in the film are inspired by real stories.

Ó Mochain spent five years completing the film, shooting for three or four days every year between 2011 and 2016.

“You’d come in and he’d give you a few lines. Then you’d come back another day and do another few,” says Sheahan. “You just had to do it as naturalistically as possible. It took him five years to film it so it was dotted throughout that.”

Norma Sheahan in Lost & Found, which was made sporadically from 2011 to 2016.

He has also shot some documentary footage about how he got the film made, according to Sheahan. “He’s made a documentary about the making of the film as well. He got people to get on board. He’s very talented and I just genuinely hope that his next project is more effortless financially for him, that things will come his way, because he deserves a massive break.”

Sheahan, too, is writing at the moment, with a comedy screenplay in development with the support of the Irish Film Board.

Regardless of many recent career successes, including roles in Can’t Cope, Won’t Cope, Handsome Devil and Moone Boy, she feels it’s vital to diversify and plan ahead.

“You’re on a job and you’re trying to enjoy it, but you’re constantly auditioning for the next job. Crew are the same, or anyone who’s self- employed.

“It’s lovely to get a call. But otherwise there is no security in the next job, unless you dip your fingers in the producing and the writing yourself. You’ll find most actors have numerous sources of income. I would do loads of voice-overs, I do bits of writing.”

She’s even dipped her toe into social media of late, on the encouragement of fellow actors including her friend Amy Huberman.

“She’s amazing on social media, so she kind of kicked my ass and said: ‘Come on Norma, there are people out there less interesting than you that are doing it, so give it a whack!’ She’s just wonderful. She’s so hard working, has two young kids. She’s just a grafter and she’s very talented.”

Sheahan will star in Huberman’s forthcoming TV series, Finding Joy, and also landed a role in Women on the Verge, Sharon Horgan’s anticipated new series for RTÉ about a group of career women in their thirties.

“It was only a small part but it was lovely to get the call. Eileen Walsh is in the scene with me and I had to play a mammy with kids, so they asked me to bring my own kids. They loved it.”

Lost and Found is out now. On Tuesday, the Gate cinema in Cork will host a Q+A with director / writer Liam Ó Mochain after the 6.45pm screening


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