How the CTBF Family Support Fund helped me – Joe McStravick

Joe is an award-winning Film/Television Director and Screenwriter who works in both narrative drama and documentary. A number of his past projects have been commissioned and/or broadcast by BBC, Northern Ireland Screen, TG4, The Irish Language Broadcast Fund, RTE and The Arts Council. He recently directed/co-wrote and produced a short film called The Wedding Speech – an adaptation of the award-winning short story by Isabelle Broom. The film screened at the Cork Film Festival in November. He is now developing two feature films.   https://vimeo.com/joemcstravick

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I was seriously considering quitting the industry to focus on being a stay at home Dad. Being awarded from the fund changed my mind.

A while back I started to feel that my many years of hard work were finally paying off but it also didn’t seem like it was enough to justify all the sacrifices that I had put into my career. My wife Katie has been incredibly supportive and she has made many of her own sacrifices to allow me to continually work in the industry. From the first moment she saw my early films she has been my biggest critic and supporter.

We juggle our working lives with two kinetic and unpredictable little boys – Eoin (4) and Michael (18 months). Katie works full-time and I try to  balance my work  in addition to taking care of our two kids. Since the age of two, Eoin started to show signs that he may have possible developmental issues. Last November we enrolled Eoin in Pre, pre-school (as they call it), as we were told that it would be very good for his development. Eoin’s attendance at this playgroup would also give me a better chance to work, even though I had become quite an expert at screenwriting and even editing my films whilst taking care of the boys. But I wanted and needed to take more time to concentrate on taking on larger scale projects for the sake of my career and to pay for Eoin’s fees.

Earlier this year I saw a tweet about the Raising Films and CTBF Family Support Fund. I applied straight away. A few days later my family and I were delighted when we got the good news from CTBF that we had been successful. Around this time even though I was in post-production on two short films, I was seriously considering quitting the industry to focus on being a stay at home Dad. Being awarded from the fund changed my mind.

On May 5th, our son Eoin was diagnosed with Autism (ASD). Once again, I seriously considered quitting the film and TV industry. I wanted to be there for Eoin but I also wanted to be a responsible parent. How could I do this and live the dream? After much reflection and a few conversations with other people in the industry who also have kids with ASD, I decided that I could continue to do what I love and be a good Dad.

Today, I’m no longer walking around in a dark daze worrying about money, my career and how to “fix’ my son. I took the time to come to terms with Eoin’s ASD diagnosis. I’m back to being busy – juggling a few different projects (as per usual) and I am determined to keep working as a film and TV director.

Eoin’s attendance at the playgroup is aiding his development and is allowing for me to do more work. I will be forever grateful to the team at Raising Films and CTBF for their support.

If you have found yourself in a caring position and in need of financial assistance to bridge a pay gap. Raising Films and the CTBF have collaborated on the Family Support Fund. A rolling fund which, is open to parent/carer professionals working in Film/TV/Exhibition and will contribute up to £75 a day towards the cost of caring arrangements, up to a maximum amount of £1,500 per beneficiary/per annum.

For more information and how to apply click here.

Learn more about how CTBF support can transform your work/life by reading our testimonials from screenwriter and carer Pete Jordi Wood, mum and production coordinator Kerri Burbidge and artist and filmmaker Rosie Toner 

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