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.
I don’t want to give you details of just how long it took me to get that little pun; I think I may have been on stage as Cornwall when I had my little eureka moment. But anyway I was excited to still be working on something when the play was over. We shot it only two days later, and I was still massively overtired from it. Towards the end of the day I was falling asleep on the couch on set.
Although my call time wasn’t until 2pm, I headed up to meet everyone for the 10:30 start anyway. Every set needs someone who isn’t doing anything to work the clapper board, wink wink. I got to meet the director David Keeling – an ambitious and creative man with a mustache that deserves more than a passing mention. It was also my first time working with No WiFi’s newest American Todd A Sheets. When I heard him speaking, I did consider putting my own fake American accent on all day to try and fool him. My fear of looking even crazier than usual cancelled out my desire to troll – so I went au naturale. We’d be taking a two-camera set-up, Todd on the first camera and Arthur on the second. Zeff was there for the first couple of hours, helping build the box that Jack called home (the house that Zeff built perhaps?)
Zeff should get credit for wardrobe, as he provided some of the Aloha shirts that our protagonist Seany would wear for a little photo montage at some point in the film. He would be played by Gerry Cannon, in what marked our fourth collaboration together. He adopted a country Irish voice, while I opted for a more perky mid-western twang. David’s direction told me to play Jack like one of those larger than life adventurous types – “you know, a typical American” quipped Todd. I knew exactly who I needed to channel.
Oddly enough I kept having trouble maintaining the accent for one specific sentence – “it is a whole world out there..” – so I think they changed it to ‘great big’ instead. For the first few takes they set the box up on set and I sat behind it to deliver my lines to Gerry. As we were filming in The Harbour Bar, there were a few extra noises in the background that were making the sound a little difficult. The solution was for me to get inside the box, position the boom in there and have me speak my lines into it. At first we just ran the scenes over and over, but then they just had me speak all my lines at once for coverage. It was around this time that I was falling asleep, so it remains to be seen if I was perky enough.
As a fun idea, they decided to have me also play a delivery guy who wheels Jack’s box out of the room. I threw on a green high-vis jacket – supplied by the reliable John McNally – and did what is easily one of the trickiest bits I’ve ever had to do. The box was about a foot bigger than me, so when I hoisted it onto the cart, I could not see anything at all. And I had to wheel it in a very specific path, without knocking into either of the two cameras that were set up. Not helping my concentration was the loud noise the cart made as you moved it. After about seven takes of me just about getting it, they seemed happy.
Boxed In will be screening this Saturday the 20th from The Whale Theatre in Greystones along with two other films I starred in; Proposing Confusion and Stuck Home Syndrome. It’ll also be screened in the Mermaid Theatre in Bray on Monday 5th February. In order to tide you over, the trailer can be viewed below.