Interview with Glenn Leyburn and Lisa Barros D’Sa

published 25 April 2010
written by Sam

The following is an exclusive interview with Cherrybomb directors Glenn Leyburn and Lisa Barros D’Sa! The conflict of two guys fighting over one girl is a classic and well used plot device, and we’re familiar with it… we’ve seen it a lot, too. But Cherrybomb’s unique in how it handles the relationship between the characters because they are fighting with themselves , as well as each other. I mean, these characters have all these internal struggles going through, but they desperately need one another… like Michelle needs some validation from somebody, and Malachy and Luke need each other. What did you as directors to really accentuate that unique aspect of an otherwise familiar plot?
Lisa: Well honestly, I think it’s hard to say I think it’s fair to say, you know two guys fighting over one girl is a plot that we’ve seen. I guess there are few real original arch-typical stories, if you say the key is to defined what’s original and particular in the story and in the characters and to try to draw that out, in this case, I think that what we really loved about the story first of all was the friendship between the two boys, and the fact, the way that that’s drawn. At first, the aspect of warmth between, and affection in that relationship and also, I think the seeds of conflict were already there at the beginning even before Michelle comes along. I think that, you know I think that in beginning of the story before she arrived already makes an impact in their lives. We can see that, that their friendship is already under pressure, that it’s threatened from various different directions that their future is sort of pulling them apart already. And I think that was an interesting thing about the story because it raises the stakes in what’s gonna happen when Michelle arrives. As for Michelle, I think you know.. the characters…it’s lot to do with subtext of what’s going on, she appears very brash and confident, but quickly we realize that she’s vulnerable for various reasons. I think that’s a testament to a great performance from Kim that we’re always aware that there’s nuances…she doesn’t come across like a real harpieor a vixen. We’re always aware of that vulnerability in her and I think a lot of that, a lot of getting across that subtext from great performances by the actors. Yeah, it was interesting how sweet she kind of seemed, even though she was supposed to appear brash, I liked that. We’ve been seeing some nice reviews for the movie, Empire Magazine is calling Cherrybomb, “Powerfully cinematic…” I don’t know if you guys have seen that one, and I’d have to agree.
Glenn and Lisa: Great, yeah. Everything from the choice of color in each scene, the way the set was decorated, all these really bright vibrant colors, to the incorporation of the text messages kind of popping up on the screen like that. You give the film something larger than life. What aspect of the film was very important to you in order to keep it as cinematic as it turned out to be?
Glenn: Well, I think right from the very start we were quite keen to make the reality that the boys lived in slightly heightened. We, you know there have been a lot of films made in Belfast which are, you know, quite gritty, real about kind of grey war torn streets of Belfast. These films are great and there probably will be more films made like that and great ones. But what we wanted to do with this was something different. The Color was important just right from the very start. And you know we quite conscientiously sat down with the art director, and the costume designer, and our make- up artist, and everybody involved. And sort of talked at length about how we would use color in scene and bethat in whatever way the set was decorated or designed or whether that was through the wardrobe the central characters were wearing. One of the main things was that we wanted bright colors to pop against more monochromatic backgrounds, you know so it was keeping the background simple so that the characters themselves jumped out and were vibrant against that. And I suppose that’s actually relevant with Michelle, given her impact on the story when she arrives. And as far as the text messaging goes. You know I work, I have worked as a graphic designer, so obviously typography is something that really interests me, so, so, when we decided that the text messaging was going to be quite a central strand to the story telling. To think of creative ways to do that was important to us and we brought in the design company based in Belfast called Frank, who did a really great job, you know they’re very skilled in motion graphics. So we sort of went through different ideas and sort of came up with some ideas and we went backwards and forwards and tried a few things out. Yeah, just rather than, I guess, showing shots of screens of phones when people are texting which was something that we wanted to avoid. Trying to make a story as cinematic as possible was very important, in this I think our director of photography, Damien Elliot, did a good job with that as well. I think he worked really hard with lighting . And it brings everything together, I guess all the wardrobe, the set design, the graphics unifying all the elements I guess.
Lisa: Yes, and I think that is part of our job as directors, make sure that happens. That there’s a coherent world and playing with all those different, make sure that comes together. I think as well, the slightly heightened world is about reflecting what’s going on in the emotional lives of the characters during this weekend. During this game that’s taking place. Anything that’s happening in the outside world sort of falls away in terms of importance, so you know what we’re really focused on is heightened world this whole time. Yeah, it’s really beautiful the color choice and the costume choice is really eye appealing. So, I think Empire Magazine had it right on that one. Was there any significance to the large amount of tennis balls? They appear in many scenes from Crilly and Donna, to the ending pool scene, and we were just curious if there was something deeper involved with that? Cause They were just everywhere!
Lisa: Well they are everywhere. (laughs) The tennis balls, I think were part of the, a part of our idea for the Leisureplex background. I think, within, within that world, we wanted to really heighten, heighten that world…there’s a lot of patronizing in that, it’s almost like Eden that Crilly is trying to create this paradise. But actually, it really feels really hellish in a way. You know it’s this sense that you’re really direct…this lurid conformity against such , you know the chaos of young kids in this story. The young people in this story. Feels like quite a desirable thing. What else to say about the tennis balls, Glenn? They look lovely against the nice blue water in the pool.

Glenn: I suppose it’s trying to treat the vision in a painterly way it’s using objects that you dress into the set in that painterly way, and you know splashes of color and patternizations. Yeah, it’s neat looking, it kind of struck us when we were thinking about it. Was there a lot of adlibbing on the set, or did the cast basically stick to the script?
Lisa: Was there a lot of ad-libbing did you say? Yeah.
Lisa: Um, I don’t know if there was adlibbing so much to honest with you. There are obviously a few little bits and pieces and bright moments that you…that you end up, in the final film. But, by in large, I think it was mostly the original script.
Glenn: Yeah, I think it was mostly the original script. There are a few bits and pieces I guess which weren’t scripted. What you’ve got the kind of thing spontaneous things as they happen and kind of run with them a little bit. But yeah, by in large we stuck to the script. Eventually, it’s the way we work really. Some directors work with a very loose script and in fact…you know…let the actors provide the whole scene, but that’s not really the way we work. We like, we like to be always aware of an unusual and interesting things that can appear. But, it’s not really…
Lisa: Yes, I…things do arise and you have to be ready, you know new things, new moments can arise as you’re working with the actors and, um, you always have to listen out for those things cause they can be really wonderful little details and moments here and there that are just perfect cause they understand the characters really well. And so we’ll never be closed off to things like that. But basically we stuck to the original script. We did a good bit of rehearsal before we started with the actors, so there might have been little changes here and there along the way. It’s quite hard to remember actually, cause you’ve got to remember the scenes that you see playing out…at that stage a long time ago now.
Glenn: Yeah How long was the rehearsal?
Lisa: We rehearsed for a few days beforehand and, um, it was actually I think about a week before we went on set that we had the three leads in a room at the same time. They all came over to Belfast and met each other, and we all worked together really then for a few days.
Glenn: I wouldn’t have said that it was a full week because during that time, there was a week that they were in pre-production with us. But, during that time as well, they had to go up for make-up, hair test, and wardrobe tests. So, I don’t think that whole week was all rehearsal time, but yeah, there was a few days.
Lisa: And there wasn’t too much. In some ways you do rehearse the scene a little bit, but a lot of it was about sitting with the script and talking about the characters and tracing their emotional journey through the film. You know tracing their relationships through the film, and just really talking between us and with the actors about all of those things and what the big emotional turning points were. Cause obviously when you’re shooting you’re not shooting chronologically so you know it’s quite hard to find where that certain emotional moment is. So, if you’ve done that sort of work before, you’ve had those conversations and discussed that stuff in detail. I think it helps, you know to pin point precisely if you’re going into a scene that’s completely out of context, pin point, you know for the actors exactly where they are in that moment. And still we did rehearse scenes a little bit but you don’t really want to over rehearse because you want to keep a certain freshness whenever you’re actually shooting those scenes. Ok. Rumor has it there was a deleted scene in which Malachy had to vomit. Can you tell us more about that, like what was he doing? And were there any deleted scenes that you wish would have made it into the final cut?
Glenn: Yeah, there was a scene. Actually, the first scene that we shot was Malachy, yeah throwing up. But that was just, that was really the night after he had gone out and painted the garage doors.
Lisa: Yeah, so you know when you see…there’s a scene where you see him looking at his sleeve and he’s got the red paint on it in the bathroom? That was, we sort of shot it….we didn’t actually shoot him actually being sick. It was more the aftermath of that. Good.
Glenn: Yeah, the aftermath of that. There was no vegetable soup or anything involved.
Lisa: You’re not missing anything. Were there any deleted scenes that you wish would have made it?
Lisa: Well, you know we were there editing the film with our brilliant editor Nick Emerson. I think you make a lot of difficult choices in the edit, and one of the things that you have to keep in mind is that it’s about the shape of the film as a whole and plus there might be little bits that you love, it might not really, it might not really help a real shape, or rhythm, or pace and if they are not essential in working with that overall structure sometimes it’s better that they go even if themselves, they are really nice scenes.
Glenn: There are a few deleted scenes actually there’s a deleted scene with Michelle and Donna after Michelle has found out. So that’s quite, a…I’m sure that will pop up on the DVD. Yeah, there are a few deleted scenes ok, yeah.
Lisa: Yes I think there might be one or two to look out for in the extras. Oh excellent. I’d love to see a confrontation between Michelle and Donna. We heard that the love scene between Malachy and Michelle was shot as a continuous 10 minutes. Like, you didn’t stop. And if this is true did Rupert and Kim improvise… like the laughter that was during that scene, or was it in the script? Because it was a little bit of him laughing there.
Lisa: We didn’t shoot it all continuously because, well I mean it’s two different shots. You sort of seein the way that scene plays out there are two different angles that we used. So, each part of it was actually shot in a very self-contained way, quite short parts.Bit by Bit. Actually, most of it was pretty choreographed. I mean those scenes when you shoot them they are mechanical, you know sort of the actions in order 1, 2, 3… we’ll talk to you about a bit, and then we’ll move to the next shot, etc. So it really happens a bit like that, especially in that scene you put the pieces together afterwards and then hopefully it flows really nicely into sequence, which I think we were really happy with the way that one did. I mean, things like that laugh, you know, I don’t think it was necessary in the script. But, we’ve certainly discussed the mood of the piece. The fact that there’s really nice intimacy there, you now the thing about that scene is that it’s sort of beyond the game really in a way that we really see the characters connecting with each other there’s genuine feeling and affection there. And I think both the actors really got into that beautifully within the performances and I think that nice little intimate part with little bits of laughter is really part of that feeling. Yeah, that was a really sweet scene. Also, Rupert has said that during that scene so didn’t know where to put his hands? Did you guys have to direct him on what to do, or did you just let him figure it out.
Lisa: I don’t think it’s really fair to let actors figure things like that out for themselves. You just look at them and say, “yeah, let’s see what happens.”It’s very tricky, that. We tried to, you know, we knew specifically what shots we wanted and what we knew specifically what shots we wanted and what we wanted to see. So, we were able to just, you know, just sort of direct the actors along those lines. Ok, was Malachy always ginger in your mind, like, or in the script when you read through, or did he become one when you cast Rupert?
Lisa: I don’t think we were, we really didn’t have anything specific as hair color for any of the characters, I would say. We knew it was more an internal thing. We knew what they would feel like, what kind of people they were. And so, you know, that was really what we were looking for that sort of essence. You know, just that sort of mood of the character. And so it really was by chance I think that it ended up we had a red head, a brunette, and a blonde. I think it worked out really well. It’s a nice combination! Yeah, it helped with the color balance you guys are going for too….maybe if it was inadvertent.
Lisa: That was a happy serendipitous thing that happened for our color pallet definitely. In your personal opinion, how do you think Rupert will fair in the industry as his career begins to move away from Harry Potter?
Glenn: I think he’ll do very well. I mean I think he’s a very talented actor and I think he will be brilliant.
Lisa: I have absolute no doubt that Rupert’s gonna have a fantastic career. (Glenn co-signs) He’s such a talented guy, I mean, he’s such an instinctive, intelligent actor and we sort or knew that was going to be the case and we really were blown away by his amazing performances as Malachy. So, I think, you know, the sky’s the limit for Rupert. I think it’s going to be very exciting to watch him do just that.
Glenn: Yeah Absolutely. Awesome! Glenn has said that Italian actor Marcello Mastroianni, I don’t know if I pronounced that right because I’ve only ever looked up pictures of him. He’s been an inspiration to you. In what ways? Because, I mean, you guys are on different ends of the film making world.
Glenn: In filmmaking, I would say maybe, not necessarily Marcello Mastroianni but I guess the Fellini is always a director I absolutely love. The director I really love, Marcello Mastroianni would have been, perhaps his muse. He’s often in his movies, so um, but sartorially certainly, his clothes I admire greatly. I admire the films that he’s in and Fellini is one of my favorite directors of all time. And his films have a heightened reality about them as well, and can be very visually strong. So, yeah he’s definitely an influence. What about you, Lisa. Are there any other filmmakers, or actors, or artists that have influenced your work?
Lisa: Well yeah, I think there are lots of them in terms of filmmakers…this question’s always hard because there are so many. One of my favorite filmmakers is Cassavettes … he’s a fantastic director, um, things he did like The Killing of a Chinese Bookie, he’s always one of my favorites, I just love the performances that he gets from the actors in his films. They just seem so raw and real and I think no other director who manages to do that to that degree. Um, there’s also a director I love called Chris Marker who’s short film La Jetee is one of my favorite movies, an amazing film! Check it out. It’s actually about an half hour long and it’s entirely shot in stills. Hardly any moving Images. Beautiful.
Glenn: La Jetee was a little bit of an influence, and Jean-Luc Godard was a big influence for me as well…French New Wave. And Godard’s Film Alphaville and Le Jetee were films that influenced our first short film “The Eighteenth Electricity Plan”…And…Have you see “The Eighteenth Electricity Plan.” No. I was looking for it, and we were actually going to ask a question about it. Is there any way for us to get a link for it?
Lisa: We’re gonna put a link to it on our blog, actually, so it should be up there soon.
Glenn: In the next week I would say, we’ll have it up. You could check that out. But, certainly yeah, Chris Marker and Jean Luc Godard and The French New Wave are always an influence. And I guess in this film…for Cherrybomb…were Jules et Jim which is a Francoise Truffaut film, I think that was definitely an influence. And also um…
Lisa: It’s the real classic coming of age movies, I think, like “The Last Picture Show”, was a real touchstone for us
Glenn: It’s a great movie
Lisa: I take influences from all over the place and not necessarily just from movies.
Glenn: Yeah, I mean, we we have a very broad spectrum of things that we’re interested in. We love cinematographers, painters, musicians, all those things. Writers, influence, all of these influence the works, so it’s not necessarily all about filmmakers. But these are the filmmakers we do like anyway Excellent. What’s your favorite memory about working with Rupert, specifically?
Lisa: Oh , there are lots of favorite memories of working with Rupert. I think one of the first really, just discovering. You know, you don’t know how someone who’s been a film star all their lives, really, you didn’t really know what they were going to be like or how they’ve been affected as a human being by that sort of experience. But he was such a lovely, friendly person. And, just a real joy to be around. And, such a great sense of humor. We just had a lot laughs about things right from the very beginning.
Glenn: Yeah, and we had great fun making the flim. I think we’ve said that before, but we were working with a great bunch of people, and working with Rupert specifically was really good. One of the things that sticks out in my head, that was maybe the time, with Rupert and Robbie were doing the things where they’re supossed to be smoking joints. During that scene it wasn’t scripted that they would laugh,_but they kept lauging and corpsing. And that was at the time, obviously on the film set, you know, there’s not much time to do things, but all the crew were lauging , it was kind of infectious. We were all kind of rolling around laugjhing at the situation that was in front of us. And that actually made it into the cut of the film, you see the end of the that scene, where they burst out laughing, that laugh is genuine. And we kept it in in the cut. Rupert’s a notorious corpser.
Glenn: Yeah, we know that.- all laugh- There were so many things about this film that I liked. The set choices were very appealing, and made me feel like I was int this place, and this environment that I had never really been to before. But also, the relationship between Malachy and Luke was complicated and sweet and very enjoyable to watch. What were your favorite things about the film?
Glenn: Are we talking about different scenes? Yeah, well favorite aspects maybe.
Lisa: Well for me, well I always really loved, and still really love to watch having seen it so many times now, is I love the realtiphsip between the three characters. I just love that, it feels like they know each other, it feels like the two boiys are friends, and by the end, I always feel like I believe in what’s going on and the dynamic between them. And that’s these great performances from the three. That’s what, I love that. And one I ‘m always very fond of, is the party scnee at the end. Where the track She Brings the Rain is playing. It kind of adds to the atmosphere really on, because we had the track really early on, but, on a early version of the track from David Holmes. I think we envisioned that, that certain atmosphere of it, is really ended up on screen. And that’s quite rare, because things evolve so much along the way.
Glenn: Yeah, I think that would be my favorite scene in the film as well. I mean, that scene has also been pretty interesting because when we were shooting it, it was scheduled for it to shoot that in about 4 or 5 hours, and we had quite a lot of things set aside to shoot the scene cause it would be quite complicated. But an actual fact that often happens in a film, it’s that you can be quite pushed for time. And you can run behind and time can get squeezed, and I think we ended up having 45 minutes to shoot that. And it must be said, had we not managed to get the right shots we would have gone back to do it, but we had 45 minutes at the end of the day, and we had quite clearly worked in our heads, the choreography of the whole thing. So we were able to do it quite quickly and, you know, if you look at the scene now, and if we had spend, you know, two days doing it, we probably wouldn’t have gotten it to look any better, or feel any better feel than it did. You know, it’s one of those magic things in a short space of time. So yeah, that’s a scene we will always enjoy. Wow. 45 minutes.
Glenn: Yeah, about 45 minutes. Would you ever want to work with Rupert again in the future?
Lisa: Yeah, definitely, I hope we will work together again at some point, before too long!
Glenn: Yeah, hopefully before too long. You know, we have some other project, and it’d be fantastic to have Rupert involved, absolutely. Ice Cream Man, our site, was involved in quite a large fan effort involved to get the word out about Cherrybomb. What impact has that had for you guys?
Lisa: Oh, it’s been amazing for us to watch that, I mean, from the beginning, we’ve been completely astonished and delighted how much you guys have been involved with supporting the film right from when we were shooting to when we went to the different festivals, it was basically people there who had travelled so far just to come and support the movie. And we’ve just appreciated it so much, and when the petition kicked off to get Cherrybomb distribution, well, you know we just… have to thank you guys , I mean, look at where we are today! It’s pretty amazing! Cherrybomb is in cinemas in UK and Ireland and perhaps hopefully the world beyond after that! And you know, you guys have been a great part of that, so we thank you hugely for that.
Glenn: Yeah, absolutely, I mean, as first-time filmmakers, we couldn’t have wanted for anything more, it’s absolutely fantastic, all the support that you’ve shown us. So, yeah, that has been amazing and way beyond our wildest notions. Did anybody else involved in the movie say anything about the fan effort, like did any of the cast members notice how much we were trying to get the world out and everything?
Lisa: I think everybody has really been aware of it. I know Rupert has been incredibly grateful and I think, I don’t know if he’s talked to you or passed on messages to you guys about that, but I think, you know what he’s like, he’s a very modest guy, and I think he’s just really, he still … it that he’s got so many people with affection for him and his work. And the fans get behind it, and he immensely grateful for that and absolutely appreciates it. And the other young actors as well.
Glenn: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, they’re probably in a similar position to us, with this being their first feature film. I mean well, Robbie has been in a couple of other pieces…
Lisa: …as has Kim, I mean, you’ve seen the films, but I think they’ve been really amazed that you know, you guys, you’re Rupert’s fans, but you also got equally behind all of them, and they’ve been really chuffed by that and they’ve really enjoyed that and appreciated that. Well the film is great and they did a great job, and we wanted everybody to know that!
Lisa and Glenn: *laughter* It wasn’t hard to get behind everybody, it was pretty easy, cause we really liked what you guys came up with.
Glenn: Yeah, that is very kind Do you guys have any other projects in the works that you’re looking forward to?
Lisa: Yes, we’ve got a film that we’re hoping to shoot this summer, actually, it’s a film called Good Vibrations, and it’s a story about the punk scene here in Northern Ireland during the 70ies, and told the life of a very charismatic one-eyes record shop owner called Hooley.
Glenn: It’s a true story
Lisa: It’s a true story and it’s a brilliantly darkely comedic film with lots of great music from that aera, and we’ve posted information about it on our block, and there’s a Facebook site for it you can check out, called Good Vibrations.

Glenn: I hope you’ve been enjoying the site – lots more to come over the weekend and beyond. It’s a very exciting day for all of us as Cherrybomb hits the cinemas in the UK and Ireland – well done to everyone for all their hard work in making it happen!

We would like to thank Glenn and Lisa for sitting down for this interview!

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