Transcript: Belfast International Film Festival Q&A

published April 2009
written by

Moderator: Daragh Carville, the write of the film, and Glenn and Lisa, the directors of the film. What a wonderful film; big round of applause! If you want to ask a question, just shoot your hand and someone will come with a microphone, don’t be shy. One brave soul…

Audience: I hope I say it right, Daragh?

Daragh Carville: Daragh.

Audience: Daragh. My impression is – you wrote the script, right?

Daragh Carville: Yeah.

Audience: What popped into your head, like when this whole thing started? Like how did the characters start forming?

Daragh Carville: We wanted to make a film about… Well, we wanted to make a teen movie, but we wanted it to be about young people here, because we kind of, I guess we figured we hadn’t seen that film before. A film about the experiences of teenagers in Belfast and Northern Ireland now, that was rooted in the place as it is, rather than the place it has represented in the past with all baggage of the Troubles and all that. We didn’t want to do that at all, we wanted to make a film about contemporary Belfast and about contemporary people. This story, the sort of engine of the story about the two guys competing for the same girl was… arrived very early on. So that was the idea and the engine was to make it contemporary as a film about young people, yes.

Moderator: Thank you. Next question?

Audience: Good performances from the three leads, but I just wondered how hard you tried to cast locally?

Glenn Leyburn: Well, actually we covered a lot of ground with one sighting, and there are many, many fine actors here, and there is great acting talent here, we just needed to find people who were right for those particular roles, so, yes, that’s how we ended up with Robert, who’s from Dublin, actually, and Kimberley is from Wales, and Rupert is obviously from England. But yeah, there were many fine actors here, but probably just not right for those roles, and the most important thing was that they would be right for the roles.

Audience: Picking up on what you just said, that they were right for the roles, what made you feel that they were right for their particular role?

Lisa Barros D’Sa: I think that’s always going to be a subjective thing, you know, we were on board to direct the film, so it was all about how we felt that those characters were, should come to life off the page. The important thing with these three leads was the dynamic between them, they’re very different characters, and I think that’s true for the actors in real life as well. And what we were really concerned about to get the right kind of energy between them, cause that’s what really makes the story sing.

Audience: Hello. So the two boys are competing for the same girl, Michelle, but we thought that at some point, Luke was so happy that Malachy was his mate, and then he realised that he would lose Malachy to the girl, and now, it was Luke and Michelle competing for Malachy.

Daragh Carville: Yes. Yes, I think that does happen. There is a kind of change in the dynamic in that third act, and I almost felt that that… something came up at that point in the story, in those last moment, which makes up that violent turn, which to me was kind of more shocking. But yeah, I think there is a kind of threeway love story going on, and it’s a lot about friendship, and to me it’s very… the kind of isolation of the three characters is something that we’re keen to – in terms of their home life, family, background – something that we were all keen on, keenly aware and that they find something together that wasn’t a normal teenage experience.

BFFLisa Barros D’Sa: Yes, I think it’s just, you know, there’s the competition that the boys have over Michelle, I think Luke just needs to realise what the most important thing in his life is, and that he’s just going to lose it. I think that’s what drives him at the end.

Moderator: I have a quick quesiton, if that’s alright. That’s your first feature film, could you say something about your expecience of your first feature film, and did you do a good job as first feature directors, I’m just curious how you find it.

Glenn Leyburn: I think before we started with this project, what everybody warned us about was the stamina that was going to be required for a feature, and I think initially, we felt that that was to do with the shoot, which is fairly dynamic and quite hectic, but actually it was the quite dragging process of post-production as well. So yes, it was just to keep a momentum and keep the stamina.

Lisa Barros D’Sa: Yeah, I mean, I think there were a lot of things we were quite frightened about to begin with because it was our first time directing a feature, and because it’s so much of a bigger task than working on a short. But we were really surprised to find how much fun we had, we had an absolute ball making this and that was to a large part due to the people we were working with.

Glenn Leyburn: Absolutely, we couldn’t have been in better hands, cast and crew and producers were amazing.

Moderator: We have time for a couple more questions…

Audience: Daragh, when you see the finished product, is it how you saw it on paper at the beginning?

Daragh Carville: It’s a strange thing because this is my second feature, and what I learned on the first, or picking up from the guys was to saying, I mean, it’s a massive big process making a film, and what I learnt on the first was that the truth is that a film is made three times: first of all in the writing, then in the shooting, and finally in the acting. And I, that was clear again on this film. First there is the script, then there is what happens during the shooting, and then, the process of story-telling actually continues through the post-production as well. So it’s constantly kind of re-invented, and the weird thing is, when a film is being – or a play is cast, I mean it’s cast very well – the characters become replaced in my head as the writer by the actors, so I kind of really reach to try and remember who I thought Malachy was before he was Rupert, because I see him embody him so completely. So yes, it is very difficult, that’s what the joy is, it’s a really lovely thing.

Moderator: One more?

Audience: Hello, congratulations. I just want to ask about the theme of water throughout the film, like right down to the details like the club named “Lifeboat” or the “Titanic”. I wondered at what point in the whole film did you decide about this theme? Or was it just Belfast positioned at the sea? Or where did it come from?

Lisa Barros D’Sa: Well, I think probably it’s a lot of ideas that would start small and then would become a theme throughout the film. When we were shooting a short film here a couple of years ago, we had a Danish cinematographer, who found the fact that we called things, that we wanted to celebrate in this city after the “greatest disaster of all time”, he still finds that hilarious. And we thought about it, it’s interesting as a name for our Leisureplex because it’s about the new Belfast, but also sort of signals the fairly grim and horrible, and that’s going to, that the film’s going to finish up with, but it’s also the notion of, and Daragh was saying it earlier, the new kind of Belfast that we haven’t seen on-screen before, but also what makes up the identity of this city and things that people might not know about so much already. And also just the idea that it’s a coming-of-age story, the idea of change and flux; it’s got lots of layers.

Daragh Carville: Yeah, I mean, I think this was an element that Glenn and Lisa brought in really strongly to the project. Probs because I’m not from Belfast, I lived here for years, I’m from Armargh, but when the guys came on board, they brought a really strong sense of place, and this place particular. And we think what was pictured of Belfast on film before, you know that it’s dark and by the water, and it isn’t something that you see very often, instead you see red brick, kind of urban street kids, and I think that, you know, the sea imagery was sort of really fresh that they brought into it.

BFF posterModerator: Just one more over there.

Daragh Carville: We’re going to the pub after, if you want to ask us questions! But we’re happy to do this as well.

Audience: Congratulations, I’d just like to ask: the four leads, how much of an input would they have in the film on the set, like, say “Can we do it this way or can we do it that way”. You know, would they be engrossed, and you know, would they have a big input?

Lisa Barros D’Sa: I think actors always do, and you have conversations with the actors, and when they’re engaging enough and want to give you their ideas, that would be good, so, ultimately, yes, we like to talk to them and to find out what their ideas are, but at the same time, the film is going to class if, as directors, you don’t have a fairly solid idea of what you want and where you want it to go. But yeah, great ideas come up on set all the time, not just from the actors but from so many people who are working with the crew, and I think it would be foolish not to take advantage of that.

Glenn Leyburn: Yes, absolutely, and I’d also like to add that, as Lisa says, there’s so many other members of the crew that you’re not really doing your job if you don’t listen to their input and things that they can bring to it, you know. You only do so much yourself and it’s brilliant to have that help.

Daragh Carville: Can I add one more thing, I mostly worked in theatre up til now, and we’re in a place where we sometimes have only four weeks of rehearsal for one sketch. In film, you generally have no reheasals whatsoever, you just go straight on, and what the guys did with this was, they had some time with the cast before shooting started, it was like a week or ten days, and I think that part… You get the sense when you watch this, that these people are friends, you know, that they kind of have lived together, you know, Robbie and Rupert, and I think they started to find that feeling through the rehearsal process. But it’s pretty unusual in film.

Moderator: Well, I’m just going to draw this to a close. The premiere here was very special, and I think what makes it so special is when there’s so much local talent up on the screen, and the Film Festival is really honoured to premiere this film tonight. I’d like to thank you all for coming along, and how great this has been. Thank you very much.

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