Revolutions - a Roller Derby Story
Newbridge native Laura McGann is preparing for the cinema release of a documentary which took her five years to shoot and direct.
Revolutions is a documentary that follows the brutal and fast-paced world of women’s Roller Derby, a sport which has exploded in Ireland.
The sport involves a series of short match ups, or jams, in which both teams designate a jammer who scores points by lapping members of the opposing team.
“They were straight talking, no messing women. They were all so tough but with a cool edge. The documentary is a testament to the girls’ patience with myself,” said Laura.
The film-maker followed the Irish Roller Derby team for five years. In 2011, Ireland had one team, but now has about 12 throughout the country.
Laura was a pupil at Holy Family secondary school in Newbridge, and was a member of the Kildare Youth Theatre throughout her teenage years.
From there, she went on to study Media and Film in Ballyfermot College of Further Education for two years.
She moved to Liverpool in 2005 to complete a masters.
While there, she pitched ideas to Channel 4, filming behind the scenes of movies and TV shows, including popular soap Hollyoaks. After her masters, she shot a documentary series for National Geographic/Lonely Planet.
In 2011, Laura returned to Ireland. She applied to the short screen Reality Bites funded by the Irish Film Board.
“My grandad opened supermarkets in rural Ireland in 1955 and he had footage from the 60s of around Newbridge and Kildare from the week they were opened. And so I recreated that week”, explained Laura.
The 2013 documentary called The End of the Counter premiered in Galway, and won best Short Documentary. It was then rolled out all over the world, in the USA, Australia, the UK, and China.
Laura started filming for Revolutions at the Irish team’s first ever training session in Inchicore in August 2011.
The Derby team from Revolutions
“My friend put me on to their Facebook page, and I saw videos of women skating really fast and bashing into each other, it was so visually scary! I wanted to know more about their lives, who these warriors were”, said Laura.
Laura started filming smack bang in the middle of the recession, and many of the women were unemployed. The team competed in two Roller World Cups during the five years of filming.
“I was delighted when it got to the point that it would go to a wider audience”, said Laura. Revolutions will be rolled out around Ireland and the UK, and will be shown at the IFI Dublin, from June 30 to July 7.
One of the Roller Derby players during a bout