In contrast to the other entries I usually write about films, this time I feel like just writing a letter.
Do you believe in curses? I’ve always been on and off about them. Back in my wrestling days I jokingly called one recurring phenomenon ‘the curse’. Whenever we had a show that I was booked on, I always seemed to develop tonsillitis, a sore throat or some other cold right before it. We did do a lot of shows in the winter, but then again it was a little too coincidental. Nonetheless I had my own recent experiences with curses in making a film that’s finally finished.
In the beginning there was the gold, or the standard of it.
My first role of 2018 came just a few days in. I was sitting at my laptop minding my own business when I got a message from a young filmmaker called Zac Goold. He was directing a short film that was to be shot the very next day. It was to star a friend of mine called Ernie Draper – who I had worked with on Dublin Old School – but he had dropped out last minute and recommended me as a replacement. I read the script, and it opened with my character having a big monologue about how the world was divided into raisin eaters and non-raisin eaters. I was ready to sign on before I’d finished the second page, but I waited until I’d read the whole thing before saying yes.
If you’re a wannabe writer like I am, ideas will sometimes just hit you. You may spend months or even years properly working out character, structure and overall message. Or it may come to you instantly, and you have a story within a few hours. In September of 2016, I was watching the Amy Adams film Junebug. Despite her Oscar nominated performance, the film didn’t really hold my attention. For some reason I imagined a scenario where two people had just had some kind of fight, and one of them came home drunk or sick or in some kind of distress. Despite their fight, the other rushed to help immediately. I was more intrigued by this than the movie I was watching (though I did finish it). It may have been the next day or the day after where I decided to sit down and work out what this story would be.
On one of the last nights of King Lear, Brian from NoWiFi messaged me about a short that was filming next week. They needed an American and since I was the next best thing, I offered to become a fake yank for the day. I read the script while still crashing with Kevin – a comedy about an elderly man in a small town who’s never really lived. One day he meets a wild and crazy American who convinces him to kick up his heels and take a trip around the world. There’s just one thing; the guy lives in a box. And his name is Jack.
Ah, Shakespeare; the only thing on the planet that’s more quotable than Mean Girls. Like most people my age, I had to do Shakespeare in school. The plays I did were The Merchant of Venice, Romeo & Juliet and King Lear. The last one is important – because I revisited it again this year. It was sometime back in June that I saw a casting call for an adaptation of one of Shakespeare’s four great tragedies. I’d always enjoyed the story when I did it in school, and as fate would have it, had skimmed through its TV Tropes page recently – so I was still familiar with the general idea. One of the parts being advertised was the Duke of Albany. He was my favourite character, so a part of me said “well why not?” and applied for the hell of it.
Going all the way back to March, I saw a casting call for something called Crawlers. They said they were looking for Americans and I happily volunteered with about three clips of me demonstrating said accent. I got an email back saying “actually, I think I want you for the barman instead”. Filming was timed with the very day I was due to fly out to New York – but either luckily or unluckily there were weather warnings so that meant filming was postponed. So I still had my part, and I got to tell everyone about my trip to Hooters.