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TELEVISION Storyland competition could divide Mayo vote

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Mayo hopefuls populate Storyland

If you vote on county lines, be prepared to feel split: Two entries for Storyland 2011 will be seeking your tick in the Mayo box: ‘Lucky Run’ and ‘Free House’. And if the county is to keep its winning reputation in the web-based drama competition (Swinford show ‘The Hardy Bucks’ won last year) you’d better get viewing and voting.
The popular competition, which is proving a great stepping stone for rising writers and directors, is based around internet votes; the two programmes with the least votes are dropped for the next round, and the successful finalists are commissioned to make the full series of four episodes for television.
Filmmakers Shrule-native Eamon de Staic and Achill resident Colm Cafferkey’s ‘Lucky Run’ goes online tomorrow (Wednesday), February 23, on the RTE website (rte.ie/storyland), along with seven other entrants.
“It’s a great competition to be involved in, from getting shortlisted and into the final eight and right through the production, there’s the motivation of wanting to stay in the competition always in your mind, so there’s no room to drop your standards or accept mediocrity,” said Cafferkey
“I approached Eamon with the idea in October and asked him if his company Capaillín Bán would be interested. We got to work developing the script and making it all happen, he put together a great production team with loads of experience and enthusiasm and the whole thing has been great craic.”
“The story attracted me because of the way it represents life in the West of Ireland, the dilemmas faced and the humour that goes with them,” De Staic explained. “The competition is all about online exposure and voting, so we’re urging people to go onto the storyland website and vote.” Westport native Donal Maher plays the lead, who’s life has been turned upside down by a drink and gambling binge and is forced to deal with the consequences. He is supported by Owen O’Malley, also of Westport and experienced actors such as Fred McCloskey, Seona Tully and Larry McGowan.
Meanwhile, another Storyland entrant, ‘Free House’, boasts a Mayo leading lady: young local actress, Grace Kelly from Westport. Playing Gwen, a feisty American backpacker, she turns the head of lovable rogue Donal, who returns to Wexford from a year’s backpacking to discover that he now owns half the family home. Against the will of others, he decides to turn it into a youth hostel. Lookout though, as there may be more to Gwen than meets the eye…
Kelly has been acting from a very early age (with a name such as hers, it was written in the stars). She attended Sancta Maria College in Louisburgh  and is involved in the Sonas Children’s Arts Festival, which takes place in Louisburgh each year. She was an active member in DU Players Drama Society and DU Filmmakers Society Dublin, and attends the Dance Theatre of Ireland.
“Being a part of Free House has been a great experience and one of the highlights of my career so far,” Kelly said. “I had such a great time filming and really hope we get enough votes on www.storyland.ie to make more episodes, because we haven’t seen the best of Gwen yet. Fingers crossed for episode two.”