The cast: Lisa Barros D'Sa, Richard Dormer, Jodie Whittaker, Glenn Leyburn and Terri Hooley
By David Hennessy
Good Vibrations, the biopic of the Godfather of Belfast punk Terri Hooley, has been lauded at The BFI London Film Festival and The Irish Film Festival London is providing another chance to see the film this week ahead of its release next year. Terri Hooley is credited as discovering The Undertones and bringing them to great acclaim. While he started out with a modest record shop, Terri started recording bands and getting their music out there for love of the music more than any profit. Starring Richard Dormer as the man himself, Jodie Whittaker plays his long suffering wife while heavyweight actors such as Adrian Dunbar, Liam Cunningham, Dylan Moran and David Wilmot make up the impressive supporting cast. Oscar winning film maker Ron Howard and respected broadcaster Mark Kermode have given it their seal of approval and The Irish World caught up with directors, the husband and wife team of Glenn Leyburn and Lisa Barros D’Sa to find out how it feels to have their film so well received.
“It’s been really amazing,” Glenn begins. “The first time we screened the film was in Belfast actually in the venue where we shot the big gig and really right from then on in, the reaction has been fantastic. It’s been around the world. We recently showed it in South Korea and it was amazing the humour and the story really transferred to a Korean audience. We showed it in the Czech Republic and the same thing. It’s been really great.”
Lisa adds: “You never know when you start off with a film if you’ll manage to get it made and whether or not when you have got it made whether it’s going to find an audience. It’s really wonderful for us to have the chance to travel with it and we’re really happy with the reaction.”
So what exactly compelled the film makers to bring this story to life? “The writers (Colin Carberry and Glenn Patterson) had the idea close to ten years ago,” Glenn explains. “The story is really based on Terri’s stories, all his anecdotes. The thing that appealed to us about the story is that it’s not a typical story to come out of Belfast at that time. There have been a lot of amazing films made about Belfast around that time but we wanted to tell a different story. A lot of those films tend to be about one side or the other and the conflict. While the troubles are an important backdrop to the story and provides context to the story, it is not the story we’re telling. What we’re trying to tell is the story of people who were in between, who didn’t have a side and it’s about the power of youth and music to transform people’s lives even in the darkest of days.
“We tell the story in a quite heightened way and that is driven by Terri himself. Terri is a great storyteller and tells these stories very vividly and we felt that that was the only way for us to tell the story. We realised at the very start Terri saw the world in a very different way to everyone else in Belfast at that time.”
Central to the film’s story and success is the chemistry and performances of Richard Dormer and Jodie Whittaker as Terri’s wife, Ruth. “That’s a really important relationship at the core of the film and if the balance hadn’t been right, the sympathy of the audience would have been eschewed completely,” explains Lisa. “Richard Dormer was in it from the beginning for us, We really felt Richard was the right guy for it. He’s an incredibly talented actor. We had seen him in so many things and we knew him personally, we knew he had all the charisma, vulnerability, dark humour and wit that was needed to play Terri. Richard, like us, grew up in Northern Ireland and understands that history. It’s never easy when you approach financiers for a film with someone who isn’t a big name but Richard very kindly offered to help us out when we shot a pilot for the film three years ago and any objections from financiers were completely silenced because he was completely right for it.
For the full interviewsee the November 24 edition of the Irish World