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Final year students found production company

Shoot the Messenger – an independent, student production company - was co-founded by Patrick O’Brien (History and Politics, BA) and Ella McQueen, (Politics, Philosophy and Law, BA) in February 2021 as a way of keeping spirits up and creativity flowing during lockdown.

When asked what the production company is about, Patrick explains it’s funded on the principles of collaboration and perseverance.

Hi! I’m Patrick O’Brien, a third-year History and Politics student, and the co-founder and co-artistic director of Shoot The Messenger – an independent, student production company. Our company is founded upon the principles of collaboration and perseverance, with a particular interest in producing original work that is questioning of the contemporary often through a social and political lens.

Our first two productions reflected these values and ideas. Our first show, Chet: Behind the Mask, was a Zoom mini-series that was based on the characters and themes of what would be our second – The Last Romantic. The latter had been in development for a few years but had been unable to be produced due to circumstances out of our control and the COVID-19 pandemic. Chet: Behind the Mask was intended as a way to stay creative during the lockdown and is a satirical look at Hollywood and show-business that was recorded entirely on Zoom (due to the restrictions of the time) and released on YouTube in late February 2021 – receiving a total of over 1,000 views for all four episodes.

Our second show, The Last Romantic, was a fully-fledged, two-hour stage play that was put on at the Avon Drama Studio in February 2022. Selling out over 140 tickets across two nights, the show follows James Wright, a semi-successful actor, and Julia Smith, a dogged and under-appreciated writer, who have both become increasingly frustrated by the modern entertainment industry. Exploring the greed and artificiality of Hollywood, it questions the place of art within a system that has become unashamedly and blatantly profit-obsessed: is it at all possible to be artistically pure? Or do you have to sell out to make what you truly want to make?

Told again through in a satirical form, the show had a cast and crew of over twenty people from the university from across several years of study and different departments. We were welcomed to a strong reception by our audience, including a standing ovation on our opening night, and a glowing review in The Boar. We are still developing the show and have ambitions to take it to festivals such as the Edinburgh Fringe.

Our next production is a yet to be announced devised production, named ‘It’s Only Sex’. ‘It’s Only Sex’ is a production directed by our co-artistic director, Ella McQueen, that will primarily use a female-identifying cast and crew to explore themes surrounding anger regarding the female experience, specifically towards the everyday injustices faced by women that have become normalised within society. We are very excited to announce the production in the coming weeks, so keep an eye on our social channels.