Derry was three-years-old when he contracted a virus that permanently damaged his spinal cord.
His diagnosis was ‘transverse myelitis’, a virus that causes inflammation of both sides of one section of the spinal cord. While many would falter under the challenge of being paralysed from the neck down, Derry has never let his injury get in the way of following his passion to take the film industry by storm.
With not long to go before the Spinal Injuries Association’s ‘Rebuilding Lives’ 2018 awards – Derry has been nominated as ‘Young Person of the Year’ – we get to know the burgeoning filmmaker.
Hi Derry! Can you give us a little bit of information about your work with SIA?
I’ve worked for SIA for nearly two years now and I feel I can help because I can share my positive outlook on life and my interests by writing for Forward magazine (the SIA’s bi-monthly publication).
Your passion for screenwriting began in High School – is there anything in particular that swayed you? A particular script or writer, perhaps?
I’ve always been interested in writing stories since I was very little and I have also loved films as well. So when I did my A-Level in Film and part of the course was to write a script, I thought I would give it a go. I really enjoyed it! So after that, I started writing scripts as a hobby and self-taught myself how to write them too.
What would you say is your favourite film?
Definitely The Shawshank Redemption.
Do you have any other films in the pipeline right now?
I do, I’m just finishing off filming a low budget feature and I’m also writing a short script and another feature length one too.
Is there anyone that you would consider a role model?
I’m not sure about role models but I do have many people who I admire – the filmmakers Darren Aronofsky, Nicholas Winding Refn and Gaspar Noe to name a few.
You’ve had the opportunity to do some really amazing things – do you have a particular highlight?
I would say skiing down the top of a mountain in Sweden or my work experience with The Telegraph!
What would you say your greatest achievement has been so far?
Getting a 2:1 in my undergraduate degree.
What does the work of SIA mean to you?
I feel like it’s a family and I really enjoy being part of a really nice team.
What does it feel like, being nominated for a Young Person of the Year Award at Rebuilding Lives?
Surprising! But I’m very honoured and excited.
What advice would you give to someone diagnosed with a spinal cord injury?
Always keep a positive mindset and always think of ways to adapt things so that you can do them.
Tell us, what’s next for Derry?
Just to keep making films, keep trying to get a career and stay happy!
Thank you for taking the time to speak to us Derry, good luck!
SIA’s Rebuilding Lives Awards took place on Wednesday 6 June 2018 at the Williams Conference Centre. This year, Birchall Blackburn Law sponsored the Young Person of the Year Award, which will be presented to a young spinal cord injured person under the age of 25, who has provided an outstanding level of contribution to the SCI community, and their SCI peers.
For free and confidential legal advice on spinal injuries after an accident, don’t hesitate to get in contact with us on 0800 614 722 or take a look here.