trainspotting in derry/londonderry
Duana Forrest, one of our Youth Arts Correspondents, recently attended An Evening With Danny Boyle And Frank Cottrell Boyce on 23 November at St Columb’s Hall, Derry. Here she writes about the lively conversation between the award-winning film driector and acclaimed writer.
Director Danny Boyle and writer Frank Cottrell Boyce arrived in Derry for the Foyle Film Festival surrounded by a sea of adoring fans for a packed out Q&A session at St. Columb’s Hall.
When Danny returned to Derry for the first time in 17 years, not even he could have expected the attention he would attract. More than eager to get his time with the fans, Danny spoke to them like long lost friends, posing for photos and signing DVD covers. Sitting down for a jam packed and hilarious discussion, followed by a Q&A with writer Frank Cottrell Boyce, they left no stone unturned in their career.
When asked about his most recognised hit Trainspotting he exuded the appreciation he had for Derry’s involvement with the film, an iconic moment for the director, now one of the most successful in the world, to return to where it all started: “We took a cold book, and made a drug movie; they were always very depressing and no one wanted to watch them. It was a lost cause… that’s why it came to Derry first. It got commission for its first public screening in St. Columb’s Hall 17 years ago.” After a quick clip and a round of applause Frank jokingly interjected “A title should give you a hint of the story, and as a train spotter I was completely crushed.”
In comical spirits, Frank shifted the attention to Danny’s 2002 film 28 Days Later describing the opening scene which features a young Cillian Murphy wandering round an abandoned London city, projected onto the screen for fans as ‘one of the most visually exciting sequences’. After another deserved round of applause, Danny discussed how he managed to get London empty: “Philosophically, we didn’t want to use CGI, so we used early times where traffic would be minimal, on 4.30-6.30am in the morning, not much traffic, ravers coming out of clubs who were more interested in watching the filming than going home. So I recruited my daughter and her friends, attractive girls, and it happened to be a hot day so they all ended up in shorts. So when a pretty girl leans into the cab and says ‘Would you mind just waiting five minutes until we do this take?’- of course it worked.”
Gathering giggles from the entire audience his tone shifted to a more sincere topic ‘Filmed in 2001 during July, we had a month off where it was prepped, then in September ‘9/11’ happened. We thought the film was about social rage and loss of patience with each other. It was refocused in the event, it suddenly became about the vulnerability of cities. It was big in America as it addressed fear of cities, tangentially addressed that these cities aren’t safe, something can change them.”
Frank remarks that the question they are most asked by people is on how to make a hit, commenting ‘..as if there’s a chemical process, but timing is a huge thing.” Leaving Danny to honestly reply, referring to 28 Days Later, “that complete insane irrational impatience with each other, then you get taken over by events; timing, luck and suddenly it becomes such a success.”
“What you’ve said is a great segway into something else, but instead of doing that segway, can we look at something I did?” As Frank leaves the audience cheering at his honest hilarity, he steers the conversation towards his film ‘24 hour Party People’, which centred on Tony Wilson, a band manager, and the music scene in Manchester during the 70’s.
A blank screen appears instead of a clip of his film; Frank ensures the comical spirit is still present by joking “Isn’t it great? It’s really minimal… really, really minimal.” After a round of applause, Danny turned the tables to gush about Frank for a moment stating that: “there’s very few films where you have that very deep kind of envy where you wish you had directed that film” with Frank modestly answering “People didn’t love Rome because Rome was great. Rome became great because people loved Rome. Wilson did that to Manchester.”
Branching off their individual successes, Danny steered the discussion to a joint production:
“What is it that defines us? What are we good at? What is good about us? What are we going to do about representing us? Although we’re two filmmakers, we’re not very good at that, but what we are good at is music, better than anyone else in the world and this city (Derry) knows a lot about that.” Prompting Frank to include “each city has their own sound; part of Derry is that the Undertones have provided that soundtrack for it. Shall we bring all these things together as if we’ve planned it?”
Of their joint project of the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympics in London, Danny discusses the process in vivid detail, injecting both their comical personalities: “I got approached by Martin Green and asked whether I wanted to do it. I had no hesitation, my dad had introduced me to the Olympic sports, and he was a huge sports fan. And July 27th, when it was meant to happen, was his birthday. So I knew I had to do it. So I thought I’ll get him [Frank] and about four other people like him. We’ll protect what we come up with by constantly threatening to resign and we’ll take our Oscars with us. People are nervous and worry about what the Daily Mail will write, so I said ‘Well, Ok then, you’ll have to tell them that we’ve left and taken our Oscars with us’. Fortunately we were able to protect the integrity of what we wanted to do. We all sat around the room and we would say ‘everyone bring in their top 20 British songs.”
Both incredibly charming and surprisingly comical, Danny and Frank left Derry imprinted with their larger than life spirits.
This entry was posted on December 14th, 2013 at 11:31 am by Desima