For over 20 years we have thought about making a film exploring the life of Ambrose O’Higgins – a long forgotten figure from 18th Century Irish history who managed to escape his humble beginnings in Ireland to become the Governor General of Chile. We first came across this fascinating character in our theatre making days, when we were researching material for a new theatre production back in 1998. For whatever reason, he stayed with us and over the ensuing years we entertained the idea of developing a biopic.
When the opportunity came our way to apply for a Reel Art Commission we seized on the chance to finally commit Ambrose to film. This commitment was not so much a straightforward biopic but instead a meditation on the idea of location and travel. Embarking on our Reel Art commission inevitably brought us back to the theatre production PLAY-BOY, during the devising of which we first encountered Ambrose. Delving back into old video tapes from PLAY-BOY also brought us back to Joe’s mother, Helen, who featured in the show by way of filmed interviews photographed by Chris Dorley-Brown. The coincidence here is that we have also long fantasised about making a film about Helen. We do that a lot. Imagining how various stories might be played out in a film.
Returning to the footage of Helen allowed us to see these curious correlations between Helen’s story and Ambrose’s. And, as is always central to us, we went where the material took us and set off on two journeys. One to retrace Ambrose O’Higgins odyssey that brought him from a field in Meath to the peaks of the Andes mountains. The other to retrace Helen’s route from a farm in Kerry to the top of the Empire State Building in the city of her birth. FURTHER BEYOND is the conclusion of those two journeys.