Monday, 8 October 2012

Cold Convention and all things Merlinian

This blog is dedicated to all the ridiculously generous, and clever, people who have donated to, and gotten involved with supporting my new film Cold. We surpassed the expectations of what we thought we would raise by a staggering amount. The initial figure was purely an amount to shoot the actual film, and then we were going to figure out post production afterwards, which is why we kept going to then try raise funds for that, which is always the most costly aspect of film making, and the one where the most stamina and endurance is needed. Writing, and then shooting a film is easy in context, it's the finishing and finessing that is difficult.

My initial plan had been to submit to the film board and get post completion funding, whereby the Irish Film Board get involved and release funds to finish the film with you, and come on board as part producers etc. Or we would try and get a bigger production company involved, which again dilutes the film to an extent. But after seeing the positive response to the film, another idea was suggested to us which we have decided to embark on, and I hope people like it:

I have been asked to go to quite a few comic conventions, whereby you meet and greet the fans, and it has been circumstances that have never allowed me to do so thus far, but the thought of people paying for my autograph seems alien to me, and unfair for people to be honest, maybe I have a communist streak somewhere, I'm definitely not an ardent capitalist. So the suggestion was that we could hold a convention ourselves, whereby fans could come and meet us, have a Q+A, and in doing support the film 'Cold', become a part of it's growth and completion and thus a part of the film, and then we could thank them in person, which seemed like a very different idea. So that is what we are doing....

We are going to have a private convention in London on the day of Saturday November 3rd, maybe also Sunday the 4th, depending on interest, where myself and Tom, and some VERY SPECIAL GUESTS.....(which we will announce as we go along to build suspense - because that seems like fun - but you all know who they are likely to be let's be honest...), will hold a meet and greet, give every participant a signed photograph from the film 'Cold', and if they want their own photos of Merlin or any other show signed then that too, have a Q+A, where you can ask us anything, as we will be mediating it, and then show an exclusive first look trailer of 'Cold'. It will be rough, as we will have barely finished filming, but will give a taster. And maybe there will be some music too....hopefully....

Anyway, that's the purpose of this blog, to say thanks, and yes, to devilishly announce our convention, which we hope will excite people. I have to be honest, that the main reason I came back to Merlin this year was because of the reaction of so many fans to me on twitter and my blog, and it made me feel like I had to come back this year, because it had been touch and go if I would have, but seeing how happy and excited people get means a lot. So if in a way we can give something back, even just for a few hours, and then also help fund my vision then, well,, cool.....

On a final note, people might not realise, but having some money to make this film is truly inspiring to me, and I think the idea of crowd funding and bringing people into the process is fascinating. I have never had any money, but have always self funded my films, with the intention of searching for funding in a year or so, but this has accelerated the process and made me very giddy with the possibilities. If we can raise the extra funds now through this convention I can conceivably complete the film the way I want to do it with sound and music and colours grade and then have the finished film to send out into the big bad world and that would be, marvellous....

Many thanks for being so supportive, and cool, and just being super nice people, it has meant a lot to myself and Tom because I wrote this film for us to act together and try and create something interesting and beautiful for people, and I think it might well get there now...

Cheers and here is the link to CONVENTION!!! :

http://coldthefilm.eventbrite.co.uk/

Eoin + the big guy, Tom....














Friday, 21 September 2012

COLD (No. 2)

This is another 'Cold' related blog because I can't write about anything else right now; I had forgotten how all consuming making a feature was, it's magnificently hard work. And doing Merlin at the same time doesn't help, how dare they make me work, don't they know I'm making a film....

I have been quite overwhelmed by the response to supporting the film, I use support because that word is appropriate, you may not realise it but every person who has helped it in any way even to re-tweeting or saying nice things has meant a huge amount. Myself and Tom, he will have no problem with me speaking on his behalf here, but maybe don't tell him just in case, were both astounded, not only by the speed of the response, but the generosity of the donations, and most of all, the words of goodwill. It's all been very humbling and makes it all worthwhile as knowing that making this film will make some people happy or proud or excited is already an achievement in itself.

 To be frank, I had been hesitant about putting out this idea initially and so I allowed it to gestate for a long time before embarking on it, partly because it opens one to criticism and a little bit of potential ridicule, but also because if it didn't work out then I'd be left looking a little silly. Then because I really didn't want to put out any of the story to ruin it, so as you can see the video gives a very limited overview of the story, it's much grander and painted across a far more epic tapestry than you guys have seen. Yet the over-riding fact was that because of how the film has gone so far, I simply didn't have the budget to complete shooting it in the same manner, and so I really needed some support, or else I was gonna have to sell a kidney. And I like my kidneys. And I've seen 'Dirty Pretty Things', not nice.

I have never asked for help before, or applied at any level for funding of any sort, and so now that there is the money there to actually use to shoot I am quite excited, it's going to be an odd experience to not have to take out my wallet to buy everybody's lunch, and then ice cream afterwards, it's always the ice cream that's the expensive part!!

I'll explain what the money so far allows us to do, and why I'm still being a pain and tweeting about it, not trying to outstay my welcome in the generous tea and biscuit house of film support trust me, so if I am annoying anybody, just ignore me for the next 15 days....then come back....think of it like an extended holiday, like a bubble in  Terry Gilliam's world with magic talking snakes and....yep.

The money is essentially a working shooting budget, it allows us to shoot for the 7 days needed to finish the film, such as equipment, because we are shooting 4-K on the RED so that's it's cinema quality, transport, accommodation, food (there is that pesky ice cream again, this time everybody gets a flake), and other basic expenses. We still shoot the exact same way, as that is essentially what it cost me for the initial block. Then it leaves a little left over to move into the initial stages of post production. Post production is the killer, it's like going on a date, doing all the ground work, buying a new shirt, getting aftershave, getting the right taxi, bringing her to the right place, saying all the right things, using those chat up lines you learnt in date chat up school and then getting home to find her parents are there, they are staunch Catholics and she is actually in a pre-marriage agreement to the local Lacrosse star. So that's gonna take a lot of effort, much will power, many favours and no small amount of money (all Lacrosse guys can be paid off, they're like colour graders, all fancy footwork but it's all for show). I use the analogy of a guy to a girl, but use your imagination to flip it around. That may be terrible actually. Sorry. You get the idea. If you don't, well post involves grading the image, which means making it look good, like a massively advanced form of photoshop, doing the sound scape, so people can understand what I am saying, and adding in nice squirrels frolicking in the background to make it warm and happy, the music, and all the bells and whistles. You get the idea now.

So yes, that is what the money that you have so very kindly donated will be used for. And then whenever you see this film you can say that you made that squirrel noise and that shoe on Tom's foot happen; hopefully in Cannes or Toronto or on a cold thursday night when you're bored and need somewhere to go on a date in the cinema near you. See what I did there? No. Okay.

But yes, right, I have digressed. Thank you so far, it's been very touching, everybody I've been working with has been very surprised and shocked at how we have done this so far, and so, from me to you guys, who read my rambling blogs and watch my little films, thank you very much....

Of course I will keep you all updated on the journey as it goes, but be warned, it may take 12 months, and in that time you will grow tired and forget all about me and Tom. And that's fine, just don't tell us.

This is a little video we made just to say thanks. ** A proviso: yep, back to those again, just in case! Tom is called Tom in the film too, because he has a quicker response time to his own name than a character name. And Katie is not in the film, but she was there today, hanging out and harassing us, so I decided she may as well do something for once....maybe don't tell Tom and Katie about this blog actually **



Cheers

Eoin


Monday, 17 September 2012

COLD, the feature film

This blog, quite predictably if you follow my twitter spam, is on the subject of "Cold", my new feature film which I have written and directed alongside my good friends Tom Hopper, Jack Reynor, Rebecca Night and Liam Carney. There are some other exceptional actors joining the cast in some really wicked cameos, like Tony Murphy, Brian Fortune, Micheal Yare, Charlotte Atkinson, it goes on....its very exciting for me :)

The film is a dramatic feature, which follows two English brothers meeting for the first time in 5 years at the unexplained death of their father. They are from a small village in the West of Ireland, where they have a history that is beginning to resurface when they find a girl left dumped in the moors. From then on strange events occur and.....that's all I'm saying. The plot takes some very unexpected twists and turns and I simply can't reveal anything further....



I find myself writing this blog and beginning to ramble a little with the excitement to be honest, as I think about the music from the Evora, and Greg French to come; The Evora are an exceptional group of musicians and their forthcoming album which will feature a lot on this film is truly going to be something to savour, and Greg....well Greg is one of the most talented musicians out there quite simply put. What's really inspiring for me is how we all grew up together, and like with Yare, Brian etc, to put together something which we would only have dreamt about in our teens is really quite cool. That isn't a justifiable reason to make a project, or be enthused by it, but it does help. It becomes a great source of joy through the act of collaboration, and it's what art should be....enjoyable and inspiring.


I wrote an article on crowd funding in the last edition of Phoenix Magazine without actually having any inclination to follow it myself, and yet writing the article really opened my eyes to it, and I think it's one of the great evolutions of social media that this kind of project can happen, that people around the world can communicate and get involved, and it gives me great ideas for the future....And this is what this blog is about, to see if there are people out there who want to get involved in producing a film that could be something really special....

Firstly, (or thirdly, or even fourthly after my inadvertent ramblings), I have to extoll the virtues of Tom. There are only a few actors, a small handfull whom I've worked with that I think will, and should go to the very top, and Tom is one of those. Along with Jack Reynor, the two of them give outstanding performances, genuinely Tom is simply magnificent and it was a pleasure working with him, and with Jack. The same with Rebecca, who is just a beautiful actress, and of course Liam Carney, who is a legend. The thing is that this film has grown and come alive in the manner that cinema should evolve for me; it should be organic, and the scenes and performances should leap off the screen from the page in a manner that is exquisitely exciting. This is why I am so excited about this film, cos these guys are excellent. Yes, I do act in this film, but for me, I just had to be there to react off them, to play off what they were giving me, and it was a pleasure doing that. Some people have asked me about the difficulties in directing the scenes and other actors whilst acting in it myself and my response is what it has always been in this scenario, that if the casting is right and thus the actors are good enough and understand the material, then you just let them play, follow the scenes the way you discussed, and then it, just, is.



The reason that I have put out some feelers for this film via IndieGogo is because so far it has turned out so beautifully, and has such potential that I have decided it is worth it to expose the idea and the footage (in as small a way as possible so as not to give away anything really), because it should really work as film and become something quite marvellous if completed in the right manner. At least that is always the hope with any film, or creative project. So I just hope that people feel the same way, as they have already shown in their generosity (which has been quite outstanding so far, really unexpected).



I guess that this blog may be a little unsubstantial compared to previous incarnations, but I really don't want to give much of the story away, I have tentatively compared it so some wonderful films and referenced exceptional genius film makers such as Paris, Texas and Kieslowski, so i hope it can be favourably looked upon, but the reason being is that they are the benchmarks and the inspiration for what i have wanted to achieve with this film, and story. The story, is explained more succinctly in the indiegogo video below than I will do in writing here late at night, and also watching it with music makes it seem so much more dramatic :)



We had such fun so far, it was tough, doing 17 hour days almost as standard, maybe longer as we had only 9 days to shoot the initial block, and the entire project will only be over 15 days maximum, but when you're working with good people who know what they're doing and believe in the project it just becomes easy....Henry, Barry, Tess, Miles, Alec, Aoiffe, Sue, Steven, and Eimear...

Finally, all the stills that you see are basic screen grabs, at barely 1/8 of the quality, are from the moving footage, and are ungraded, so the potential for how it can look is very visceral I hope...

I hope that the interest is there, and that the perks are exciting enough, there will be a few more up by the time this blog has existed 24 hours, because with the help that we have gotten so far I believe that we can make something truly special. And at the very least, we're gonna have fun trying and give it a damn good go.....

The IndieGogo link and video is here: On YOUTUBE:



And this is the actual IndieGogo page where you can contribute and get involved:



http://www.indiegogo.com/COLDFEATUREFILM?a=1150968



Much love as Scanlan would say,

Cheers

Eoin























Wednesday, 29 August 2012



It's been a while since I did a blog, which can only be a good thing as I haven't quite had the time, but I have a few blogs to do now, from the Frightfest Premiere last weekend and impending future festival screenings of 'The Inside', to the first block of filming this August past on my epic new feature drama 'Cold' with Tom Hopper, Jack Reynor and Rebecca Night, to some more short stories of the comedy genre, but for now I'm going to finally put up my interview with Liam Cunningham with appropriate timing as Merlin is approaching the end of it's filming for this series and aiming to air late September....I think.....

This interview was for Phoenix magazine a few months back, a pretty wicked fashion and lifestyle mag run by Hannah Kane and the effervescent photographer Leigh Keily, who also did some photos for me to accompany the article, which I've included below. This is the full transcript for the interview, with the actual published, and slightly shorter version below. 

Liam was an absolute gentleman to chat to, he had to be to put up with the questions I was asking him, but we met in Hogan's pub, had a drink and apart from the initial awkwardness when I had to stop him mid flow to turn on the tape recorder, which felt a bit weird for me to do it as it's usually the other way around, (and bizarrely it did feel very empowering I have to say), we just chatted and it was very chilled out. Bloody cool bloke, if I can be like Liam when I grow up I'll be very happy!

Anyways, hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed chatting to him and that it comes across as he was incredibly candid and forthcoming, and just the way you want to have a honest chat without all the bullshit. Planning to start doing more in the future with various people, but gimme time.....such a stupid commodity, but sadly true....

** By the way if there are typos.....just don't tell me....no seriously....**

LIAM CUNNIGHAM INTERVIEW: HOGANS: APRIL 2012:



Asking Liam Cunningham to take part in a interview initially seemed like a daunting prospect, for despite being one of Ireland's greatest actors, he shuns the spotlight and prefers to let his work do the talking. He is one of those great actors that you undoubtedly know and admire without even realising how well you know them because he immerses himself in each character to such an extent that you just see the character, not the man, the way acting should be. After a bit of cajoling Liam finally granted me the interview and over a beer in Hogans pub on Camden street I asked him about the craft of acting, directing, his current projects which include Game of Thrones as Davos Seaworth, the upcoming John Cusack film The Numbers Station, and of course about a recent poll which considered him one of the five most important Irish actors currently working. His response epitomised the man who is at turns engaging, quick witted and with his thick Dublin drawl, deceptively eloquent and opinionated. "Important? Actors aren't important, it's interesting and it can be artistically fruitful, but you can't say actors are important, cardio thoracic surgeons are important, but actors, I pretend to be other people you know". This refreshingly candid response sets the tone.

Liam is one of those people who doesn't hold back, giving his honest opinion immediately, which makes you warm to the man. He recently won a Bafta alongside his long time collaborator Micheal Fassbender for their black and white short film 'Pitch Black Heist'. "I didn't win at the IFTAs on the Saturday (for the Guard), so I didn't go to the Baftas on the Sunday and we won! It was like when we won with Hunger and I was putting bullets in Micheal Caine on the Sunday and Micheal had to collect it for me, so don't take horse tips off me'. With this in mind I had decided to begin my interview with asking him about working with Micheal, as I personally consider it important and a pleasure to work with actors who you can trust and they seem to work together a lot, on things like Hunger and Neil Marshall's epic Roman film Centurion. "Micheal's great, we trust each others instincts, we're both grafters who are sticklers to get it right, relatively speaking, so we have more plans for the future, but Micheal now, his career has gone like that". He points to the sky which is a fair reflection of Fassbenders career, and having been lucky enough to share some scenes with him I can attest to him being an actors actor. "He was struggling you know, working in a pub, going a long time without work, and then when Hunger came along he was just let loose, he it all out". You're not doing so badly yourself I venture, for those that don't know, Liam was, in my eyes, the best thing and one of the few redeeming features in Spielberg's War Horse, appears in Safe House, and plays the lead in Titanic: Blood and Steel, as well as everything else we have mentioned. "Well people think I'm a multi millionaire cos I'm in these things but they forget I'm not carrying theses things, they assume once you're in a movie, they associate it with you being very comfortable, I mean I can put shoes on my kids so I'm not complaining". He is quite animated on this subject, which continues onto the luck in his career.
"You can't be dealing in jealousy co there's always somebody better career wise, is more visible, or gets a better choice of script, but we all know actors who are enormously successful and aren't very good, and another actor who may be the best actor on the planet can't get a job. I respect any actor who's working, and you'd hope that they're at the very least competent, but you wanna see people working, and it's a good thing. I've been lucky, and I just seem to have been in the right place at the right time on a number of occasions". I worry about what my next job is going to be I say, how when I first began it seemed to have a end point, it never occurred to me it would last and he smiles that rogueish grin of his. "I'm sorry to depress ya here but I've been doing this for 20 years and it takes about two weeks after I stop working for me to wonder what's the next job I'm gonna get, so it doesn't stop.". Oh. I had hoped it would get easier. He laughs at my naivety then. "Look, I despise the idea of being an actor, I love acting, but not the baggage that goes with it, it's nice when people at a bar say they like what you did, and it's good to be appreciated but it's the rough with the smooth". As an explanation he mentions the young man who ran up to him outside the bar as Liam had a cigarette in preparation for the grilling I was gonna give him. I had watched as Liam had politely smiled and nodded. What did he say I ask. "'There's your man off the telly' he said to me, it can be awkward but you know..". He trails off, public recognition isn't something that he much cares for, which explains his general reluctance for interviews. "I try and avoid them, the reason being, the people that I admire, or they do interesting work, like David Straithairn, from Good Night and Good Luck, fantastic actor, I did Whistleblower with him, I know nothing about him, Ed Harris". I interject by saying that when I had asked some actor friends of mine about Micheal Shannon recently they had looked at me blankly. "Yeah, there was an article about him recently being the greatest actor hat nobody has ever heard of it, it's great!".

Liam it turns out is an incredibly engaging subject with a passion for everything he does and when he gets going he is a brilliant conversationalist, who just keeps going. I want to move on to the Game of Thrones question, that John Cusack movie and his take on directing so I asked about his character Davos Seaworth, my favourite from the novels for being less agenda driven than the rest, much more black and white than the grey characters which keep switching allegiances. "I really like him to be honest, he doesn't have that paranoia, he's very straightforward. There's a certain blindness to those who want to be on the throne, but Davos is a great man to have on your side and his loyalty to Stannis is unquestionable, but Stannis is right, as things stand he should be on the throne". Davos is actually the person who you would most want on the throne though, for his honesty. "It's always the way, it's away the way with anything, the people who should be in charge are never in charge, and the people who are in charge, well,I've always said that anybody who has an ambition to become a politician should automatically be banned from becoming one". That's what Game of Thrones is about, we agree, about how absolute power corrupts, but you can still see why each character does what they do, Cercei for example. Shouldn't all television shows have this level of depth for their characters though, this level of analysis as to their motives. "Look, a good friend of mine said to me, Liam we all want to do the Godfather, but the reason we do what we do is because we can't be Elvis. HBO are remarkable at the moment, and people wonder by they're so successful but it's because they treat their audience with a level of intelligence and don't patronise their audience. There's a lot of executives who treat their audiences as muppets, but people get bored and switch off their tellys because they get bored of seeing the same old stuff, and in fact what it is, it's the audience losing faith with the commissioners because they're idiots". It's this kinda of forthright no holds barred opinion that means he won't be doing an Arnold Schwarzenegger move into politics anytime soon. He shakes his head and this brings us on to the John Cusack film The Numbers Station. 

Having read the script I can say that there is an interesting politic undertone to this one which I hope they don't flatten out. According to Liam this won't be the case. "It's there if you wanna see it, it's a thriller and there's intrigue and I'm very interested in seeing it. Theres an essay from some idiot, an American military idiot, justifying murder, so we kind played it that it's these guys that operate in this world that is in a sense incredibly self serving, and we're kinda the sheepdogs protecting the sheep from the wolves". John is big twitter user apparently, much like Liam and myself, although I tweet irrational irrelevance, something Liam tells me he's going to have stop following me for. "Yeah, John, he's a big twitter boy, very political, he's got something like 900,000 followers, but I don't follow him or any of those Americans". He laughs with that infectious deep chuckle and continues, clearly a fan of Cusack. "I liked working with John, he's got a bit of freedom about him, I kinda liked that, he's done some remarkable stuff. This film, I went out on a limb with it, I'll either drag the project down and be blamed for it, or it's a big success somebody else will pick up the aplomb. I played John's boss, and I played him with a big thick Dublin accent, I've played American before, but they wanted him British but I said this reads well to me so I threw it at them and they said yeah for it we love it, and so John and Caspar (the director), they said push out the bar so I went a bit bananas on it. We'll see, it's an action movie but without the 100million budget so they have to do something different with it."

We move on to directing. "Any actor worth his salt, he likes telling stories, I'm very script driven, when you're working on a set, it doesn't matter what capacity, you're all in a sense directing the movie, the lines are quite rightly blurred, I don't have a great deal of time for the actors or directors who are dogmatic about it -, like, this is the story I wanna tell and you're a mannequin - cos it leads to shite movies, cos then theres no togetherness, no imagination fired up, no excitement as to who to has the best idea in the room, and that's the joy for me, when you throw out and idea and someone says that's shite, and they say this works better, and you agree, and so you get rid of the bad ideas and run with the good ones, and that's the joy for me, I love being on a set, I genuinely love it". When he gets going Liam speaks in one stream of consciousness, thoroughly engaged on the subject. There are no airs and graces, just his honestly passionate opinion and I feel privileged to have such an open conversation. We move onto the idea of making films, "Indie film is basically in a coma right now, it's impossible. I could raise 85% of a budget but it's getting that final 15% and I'm fucked if I'm gonna put all my energies into making something and then watch it fall apart". It's tough for all filmmakers, with television maybe proving a more substantial way into the industry, especially with the rise in good series, so is cinema going to suffer then, and just be gobbled up by the big hitters in Hollywood? "People thought when tv came along that cinema would be destroyed, but the only thing at will destroy cinema is the price of popcorn, people like sitting the dark just watching a film, you get peace and quiet". Remaining on the subject of independent film Liam talks about how he has been involved in many great films that didn't get the push they deserved so faded into the ether, but he still thinks you should just go out and make films. "Just go out and get a 5-D and shoot it". At the same time he wants to be able make films that have a chance of being successful. "I'm not doing a film to get noticed, to show that I know what I'm doing, I know what I'm doing, I wanna make a film that has a chance and gets out and gets seems and has the capability of making money. That's not the bottom line, but the idea is if you build it they will come and if people go and see it then it will make its money back and that's one of the ways in a sense that success is measured, it's not called show business for nothing, the business we are in is telling stories and we try and do it as honourably as we can and entertain people as best that you possibly can without patronising them and appealing to the lowest common denominator to keep their retina busy". 

I don't want to stop him when he gets into a flow and I have to wait to see if he's finished before I can continue with asking a burning question which Mike Figgis recently brought to my attention on his own twitter account. He apparently discovered that male actors, such as Mickey Rourke, see acting as a feminine craft. Maybe I shouldn't have broached this when his back was up on the subject of independent film making as the question immediately riles Liam, and I have to assure him I don't feel that way, in fact I just wanted to see his opinion on it with him being considered a 'proper man, a real actor in my eyes, and so after a pause he elaborates. "It's not that it's not masculine, it's unusual. Talk to any bloke who plays rugby and downs ten pints, if he lives alone at some stage he's gonna cry his eyes out, there's just no camera there to to record it, and the thing with drama is, drama is life with the boring bits taken out. So, I wouldn't hold to that theory, it's like a purge, it's expressing yourself, to be in a position of an excess of emotion that gets away from the mundanity of living, which is why we do it. Perhaps it's a confidence thing, but I can't see the feminine side of it". The fact is that this answer just came from a man who did a two part show, Hostile Environments, for Irish station RTE, about private military security where he followed an ex soldier to Liberia and Monrovia, so if this man says its okay to cry then you better be listen. "I've always had a macabre interest in people like Backwater who changed their name to XXE, that company has the fourth largest standing army in the world, and it's a private company with shareholders, and they answer to nobody, they answer to no government, and that's incredibly dangerous". So RTE made this show, "I'd never presented before and they were a tad concerned so I had to prove myself and we kinda did it as we went along", he continues, " Each show was a stand alone, and we followed guys who were ex military intelligence, running the department of justice in the Sychelles, the training of special forces, cos there's a lot of Somali pirates in that area". The more I talk to Liam the more I respect him and realise not just how intelligent he is, and driven to make projects, to learn and to create, but that at the same time there is no bullshit with this man, and he clearly doesn't suffer fools gladly. "I know actors who don't even own a television, I mean whats the point, it's like being a painter and not even owning a paint brush, there's people, actors, but they have no interest in the process, or seeing what other people are doing, they've no interest in trends, I mean you're just going, how can you be any good at what you're doing". They just treat it as a job I venture. "Get out of the job then, if you're not passionate about it, there's a 100,000 people who are passionate, so stop taking their job". It's be hard to argue with him, not that I'd want to. 

I feel we are approaching the end of our chat as an actual interview and I bring up the of idea of fame again, which he scoffs at. "The idea of being a star, and having to do junkets, and wear a certain suit, and sell perfume". He shakes his head. You'd be great at selling perfume, I'd buy it. "Yeah I would yeah, on the side of the road, out of a suitcase before the cops come along". He could be like the guy from Lost in the Davidoff adverts coming out of the sea topless. He chuckles. "I'd be the guy with the snipers rifle, shooting them in the surf, no I just think, I'm not you know.. I'm an actor, my job is to do a creative job....and I want people to see me in a film, and see me as the character and enjoy the character I've played, not see Liam Cunningham in the film, and say lets go see that Liam Cunningham movie and watch Liam, no, I want them to watch the character, and appreciate who that is". So being a real actor as opposed to being a movie star, the way acting should be. "Actors as movie stars, you say an actor is macho, being a movie star is feminine". Right, you're playing a character so people forget about you, not thinking about about who's playing the character. He takes a breath....I've got him started again and his passion for telling me about acting kicks in again as another stream of thought just flows out. "Well that's the point, cos otherwise it's ego driven, and a lot of actors do it for various reasons, some to get away from themselves, some to explore aspects of their psyche, some like to be involved in the telling of a story, and sometimes you're all of I've things, in different projects, and thats what the joy of it is, the joy is in the exploration and the delivery of something, that's what I find interesting about, and hopefully it coincides with something the public will appreciate or be horrified by, or you know make them laugh or cry, etc. I think that's what our job as storytellers is, although the problem is getting the opportunity to do that, but you know I'm in a position, luckily enough, that every year or two something kinda goes big, or gets noticed. I've been very lucky, and I appreciate the luck, but at the same time, if you're given the opportunity you have to deliver". He pauses for a breath, leaning back in his chair and he fixes me with that hard stare of his that just dares you to look away. "I like the dark art of acting, it's interesting, it messes with my head, and it also focuses your mind and let's you forget about everything else". It can be cathartic I hear myself say, as you can express things that you can't express in real life? "Yeah it's great it's great, you get to do stuff that real life doesn't afford you that luxury or that would be dangerous or psychologically invasive and you're in a safe environment. I mean I love the gig, I don't feel any less excited or less nervous going onto a set than in the first gig I ever did, every job I walk onto, I'm still nervous, incredibly nervous, I'm always asking myself the question, what the fuck did they hire me for, I genuinely feel". I interrupt him with incredulity, I don't believe he still gets nervous, not after all the people he has worked with. We won't make a list but it's sizeable, so how can he still get that. "Always, always, and if it stops I'll stop acting, not only that; the nervousness comes from an expectation from whatever reputation precedes you, so you gotta deliver when you come in, so there's a bit of higher pressure, but that can be used, the nervousness can be used. If you're on the right gig it can be a fantastic experience."

He finally takes a breath, and I stop the recorder. He finishes his beer and rolls a cigarette to go outside while I roll some film into my camera. It turns out he has an avid interest in photography and he shows me some of his work which is, I must admit, really really good. I tell him he should have a gallery show and he shrugs, not particularly bothered. So, rolling my Olympus OM 2 around in his hands with reverence he comments that it's the same camera that David Bailey used. Thats usually what I tell people and they never know, but he's telling me. Liam Cunningham, quite the character, and definitely somebody you want want at your table, just don't say hi to him on the street.



Below is the actual interview and layout from Phoenix Magazine, as published two months ago, go get this months issue if you can, features another rambling article from myself, more beautiful visuals from Leigh and is just a damn good mag put together by Hannah with stuff on music, fashion, lifestyle, everything really....put it this way, I don't usually read those type of mags and when I read this one I really liked it, otherwise I wouldn't have written for it.....so there..






Tuesday, 26 June 2012



Lips and a cigarette

You didn’t enjoy that
So I should leave,
She states,
matter of fact.
Her eyes searching
My face
To read a reaction.
It takes a while for me to respond,
My attention lost
In the heave of her breasts
Against the humid air.
Sweat trickles down one mound
To her ribs.
I did enjoy it
My voice cracks,
Detached from my brain.
She shrugs and lights her
compulsory cigarette,
A retreating comfort.
Sex as a concept
Is something
I struggle with.
My mouth forms the words
But they make no sense,
Not even to me.
She doesn’t laugh.
Usually she at least smiles
When I speak.
Not this time,
Instead she ignores me.
Her lips curl
Around the butt, seductively
Encircling it
Like a soft mollusc.
I feel the stirring
Of a hardness again.
She notices and raises an eyebrow comically.
The cigarette leaves her mouth,
Her tongue stroking
The taste off it
And I want to fuck her again.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

The Fashion of Modelling Documentary


This is just a quick blog on the documentary 'The Fashion of Modelling'. The website is going up properly with everything on it this weekend, www.blankcanvaspictures.ie , but now seemed as good a time as any to finally put up the link to the film.

Myself and fellow model turned producer Carl Shaaban made this documentary back in 2009 and it was subsequently picked up by RTE television and screened in 2010. I came about the idea when my little sister asked about certain aspects of modelling and I realised that her friends and her knew very little about modelling apart from MTV shows. Since we made this there has been a plethora of documentaries and tv shows on modelling and the behind the scenes etc, so we should have put this out sooner, but, well....it's here again now.

We made this film off our own bat, just the two of us, and got some of the biggest names in the Irish fashion industry to assist us. Incredibly talented and well respected figures such as Rebecca Morgan, Catherine Condell, Mike Bunn, Gordon Goodwin and Eddie Shanahan let us interview them as we talked about all aspects of making a photograph, the styling, modelling and the industry itself.  Also includes models Cerri McQuillan, Laragh McCann and Alison Cannavan. Agata Stoinska, the great Polish photographer then had a big launch screening in her new studio D-Light, and it was a great success: 


The music is by Una Healy (of the Saturdays), and features some of her original singer songwriter work, and also by The Brilliant Things including an early version of their song: 'Pointless' and 'Watch What You Say':


The link to news on night is here from the Independent and Showbiz.ie


Hopefully you enjoy it.. the film is below, and runs at 52 minutes or so....



Monday, 14 May 2012

The Musician and his Soul

Play. Play. Play.
Play like your life depends on it.




Sometimes in life you just meet people. They could be anybody. These people inspire you. Or touch you. Tony Alridge is one such person. I met him last week on my way back home on friday evening. I was tired, having travelled back from Wales and then onto a tube, so I was listening to music and ignoring everything around me. Then Tony got on. And he began to play. At first I tried to ignore him as his playing was interfering with my music (Bon Iver), and so I paid him attention and took out my headphones.
He played, then spoke with such wild abandon and joy about his music, then played the Scottish anthem on the violin, then played a song he had written. I initially fished out a pound, then two, then a fiver. Then I caught up with him after he leapt off and we went for dinner.


We spoke about film, music, how he had ended up where he was, and he corrected my grammar whilst I offered to buy him some dinner, which he graciously accepted. Tony Aldridge, or Anthony if you will, has studied in the Conservatoire in Germany, played with Chet Baker when he was playing street music around Europe as part of a group of artists who in Tony's words "knew more about music than those studying it in the Conservatoire because they understood how to communicate the music".


We agreed to meet again and I would take photos and make a film about him, and maybe move on to another project. I don't want to explain too much about Tony until the short is up, which I will use to launch my website (next week hopefully), because he is quite the performer, and there is something beautiful, yet sad about his plight: he broke his glasses a few months ago and so can't see properly at the moment. But he is so positive and upbeat and I couldn't fail to be inspired by his energy and life affirming ideology. It must be mentioned that Tony is essentially homeless, living in a hostel and from day to day.


I wrote a poem immediately after filming him, and decided to try fit it into one of the songs that I recorded of him. The result is the short video below with the poem inside, whether it works alongside the music and imagery is debatable in my own head as of yet, they may both work better alone. The poem I wrote in a fashion to tie into the structure of the music, stumbling, free flowing, then verse and rhyme. I just hope it conveys what I aim to show of Tony in the film. The poem is below the video is you want to read it free of the imagery and music.



These are some portraits of Tony, which for me, capture the essence of his personality, proud but full of life and humour.
(I shot the images on the Canon 5-d, not film unfortunately, with a 50mm nikon lens, but with no photoshop- I don't like PS).







The Poem:

'The Musician and his Soul'


'ladies & gentlemen,
I'm going to play
a tune
for your today,
and if you don't like it,
then I'll leave'

He smiled a big
gap toothed grin,
cheeks creasing
from constant laughter thinned
by all that life
makes one grieve.

His violin case was
old and battered,
held together
with love, and tape in tatters.
Tenderly he took her up
proudly for all to see.

Closing his eyes
And wetting his lips
He somehow found
the balance in his hips,
and plucked at the strings
with a gaudy gaeity.

The tube rocked under
his feet
but he moved with
his own beat,
finding his rhythm
from the music within,

His hands jumped off the
strings like
an eager dancer,
and his bow
hummed along merrily
to the tune of his grin

It took a few moments.
In fact it took
a few stops
before they actually watched.
And when they did,
they were enraptured with him

'thank you, thank you
ladies and germs'
He guffawed when he
had finished his turn,
proud of remembering
the chords on a whim.

'if you can spare some coppers
for a poor old busker
that would be wonderful'
he giggled, quite lusty,
traipsing down the carriage
searching for those that related.

'I'm rich beyond my dreams!'
He announced,
all receiving a smile
through his hands
His goodwill, spirit & music
his gifts to be taken.

Those who spared some
change were greeted
with such warmth
it made them appreciated
and left them
feeling elated,

but they misunderstood
what they felt;
feeling pride
for helping a tumbling vagrant
get through the day.
They were mistaken.

For he had helped them
To believe
And he gave more
Than the little he received,
for he gave them
a part of his soul.

He left with a nod,
case clutched
under one arm
lest he lost her,
for then he would know
sadness greater than cost.

Where did he go when
he left their lives?
Where he sleep
or eat or shit or sigh?
That didn't matter
just then, he was whole.

For in those moments
he was a beautiful part
of their lives
and they were in his deeply caught,
and you hope it stayed
with each and was never lost.

Even after he left the tube
and disappeared.
Back to his life,
and they to theirs,
leaving each other
in memorial arrears.


Monday, 16 April 2012

Alone he stands there smoking...

He stands there
Against the glass.
Beard built wild and
Filling his
Face like a monk.

A nervous energy
Makes him
Bounce back and forth,
Rocking on his heels
Like a broken
spring.

He takes from his pocket
A cigarette,
lights it in one movement
And turns to see his
Reflection 
In the window.

His reflection pleases him.
Arms showing
Rippled in a wife beater
Bleached white by the sun.
Tensing, he leans
Into his body.

His shaved head 
Makes him appear strong.
Self image is important 
And smoking
Completes him.

He smokes the cigarette but
Doesn't inhale,
he exhales too
Quickly.
His movements are nervous
And his energy
Excitable.

It's all an act and
I find myself
Praising him.
Guitar music plays inside the
Cafe, but
He cannot hear it.
The sound of
People's voices is his amphitheatre,
Their stolen looks
His public.

I photograph him
And he sees me, and for 
A second considers
Something wicked.
But then he just smiles shyly.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

what?

As he spoke I heard nothing
but my own words.
His mouth moved
like a fish.
Pop.

I think this is ridiculous
I said standing,
speak normally.
He looked surprised
which made me want to laugh
exasperated.

How can you question me?
he gurgled.
Are you qualified?
his head rolled.

No.
No I am not.

Then you should
listen to me,
and pay me.

But a good bullshitter knows
a bad one,
I said quietly
lest he heard me.

He rang the next day
to apologise
despite not understanding why
after which I felt guilty
for ruining
his self image.

Friday, 23 March 2012

The Hunger Games

Oddly feel like I haven't blogged in a while....I was tempted to do so on the Kony and IC affair, and maybe some on Syria, but don't want to get into too much trouble so I'm gonna stick to poetry, fictional stories and film reviews.....nice stuff like satire that could never offend anybody instead of real life important issues....

The below link is for my review of The Hunger Games with Phoenix Magazine, which is you haven't read you probably should, as fashion magazines go it's very cool, although admittedly my knowledge of fashion is limited to advice from my sister and being constantly corrected on who owns Gucci and that Prada isn't a real person....

I have never read the books on The Hunger Games, partly because I'd never heard of them until this huge massive advertising campaign swept through the UK like a rapid horse frothing at the mouth with anticipation so I went in relatively unbiased, apart from already thinking Jennifer Lawrence is superb and wanting Woody Harrelson to teach me the secrets to life...so below is my opinion on the film.....

http://www.phoenixmag.co.uk/culture/film-review-the-hunger-games/

Friday, 9 March 2012

'Michael' Film Review

So here is the second official review I've done for Phoenix Magazine....they may have created an insatiable monster as all I do is watch films and go the pub, in most cinemas nowadays you can do both so....

I'm not going to paste the review on the blog itself cos it looks much prettier on their website and has the trailer and everything....all very swanky....great people to work with, and a genuinely really cool arty magazine. If the magazine was crap I wouldn't do reviews for them, but thankfully I think it's deadly. It helps that they take me seriously for some odd reason. Although I do have a vague feeling in the back of my liver somewhere that they meant asking me as a joke initially and then were too embarrassed to say no when I turned up enthusiastically nodding my tail with a review under one arm and a bag of cats under the other.

http://www.phoenixmag.co.uk/culture/film-review-michael/

Monday, 5 March 2012

Dreaming For You - Feature Film





This, for me, is a very late release of the film 'Dreaming For You'. It was shot quite a while ago, and after it screened at the Galway Film Fleadh 2009 I never got around to sending it anywhere else or attempting to release it, which is shameful really.

It is a very indie flick, shot by just myself and the fashion photographer Gerry Balfe Smyth whilst we were living together in New York simply because we could and we wanted to make a film. A synopsis of the film is below, but we essentially wanted to make something that showed the beauty and grit of New York counter balanced with the dangerous isolation that can happen with living in such a big city.

It was written in about 6 days, organised and then shot in another 3 weeks, with actors from my then acting class with Nina Murrano, the excellent Kettie Rompre, James Catanzaro, the hip hop artist Seijo Imazaki, and Rekha Luther, alongside Tom Lambertsen who was in the original short of the same name, as you can see from my last blog post. I had planned to have Jordan Adams star in this feature version but he wasn't around and we didn't have time to wait, so I just acted in it and Gerry, ostensibly a fashion stills photographer picked up the video camera for the first time.

It has a beautiful score by the Evora, and specifically Alan Rickard, and also Kevin Whyms as the producer Whymsonics, and it has some wonderful moments.

SYNOPSIS:

A dark and gritty drama set in NYC of a young disillusioned actor who after attempting to kill himself as his relationship falls apart, meets a homeless tramp after a chance meeting on the street. Taking the man home, Adam begins to open up, only to find himself drifting further away from reality as David takes over his life and his anger consumes him. Who is David and what does he really want are questions Adam cannot answer as he falls deeper into a psychological haze...

Download and watch the movie on distrify below if you're interested - just copy the link into your browser.

http://distrify.com/films/1372-dreaming-for-you

Or you can like, comment and watch it on the official facebook page:

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Dreaming-For-You/308727819189445?sk=app_203403406338325

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Dreaming For You Short Film

'Dreaming For You'

This is a little blog about my very first short film, 'dreaming for you', that I made whilst living in Los Angeles 5/6 years ago (2006), when I was initially figuring out the whole acting/film making malarky. All the actors were in my acting class with the esteemed coach Vincent Chase - who's name Mark Wahlberg used for 'Entourage' after Vince trained him.
We shot it in a few days and it played in festivals in Los Angeles and San Francisco. I have never been very good at putting out work I've made, I realize that I have a tendency which afflicts many artists and film makers I know, that once you make something you understand how to make something better and so want to move on and you ignore the project you spent time on. But I really like this little short, parts are too long and it's interesting looking at the stylistic choices I made with cuts and fades, but I still like the shot compositions and I love the acting, I think Jordan and Tom as the two disillusioned actors are especially great.

The film resonates with me because this is what LA can be like for many actors very quickly and easily, it can suck you in and spit you out and there are a lot of people I met over there who I found had a similar tone in their lives as to in this film.
I'm putting this up in advance of finally getting the feature version of the same name 'Dreaming For You', up on the self distribution service 'Distrify'. The feature was selected for the 2009 Galway Film Festival after I shot it in New York with my room mate and fashion photographer Gerry Balfe Smyth --  http://gerrybalfesmyth.com/.  It got a great reception and again when I privately screened it for 100 people in the Odessa Club in Dublin, then I was working and never got around to trying to get it out there or distribute it or promote it....not having a producer and moving onto another project is one thing and then I also had by learned afterwards how to better write a script.....Again I used actors I met in my acting class, and also Tom, only this time I acted in it, be default really as Jordan, from the short who I'd wanted in the feature was away and we only had a 10day window before Gerry went back to Ireland. I'll put up a blog about in a few days when the film goes live, and I'll attach the trailer for the feature below this short film.

The short was made 5 years ago, shot on the Canon XL1, a real film makers camera, and the music was by Nigel Linden who is a great talent. It was my first short, so it has mistakes, not least having no sound guy, and like the feature was made for about $5, but with these type of art house films, for me it's about making the film and the story and trying to create something, and if parts work, well parts don' work! I've been told don't be critical vocally of your own work, but I am aware of the positives and negatives inherent in both projects, but there are aspects of the tone and mood that really appeal I think.

Hope you enjoy and hopefully it captures some of the sense of Los Angeles....



Below is the trailer for the trailer of the feature of the same name, but a very different film, shot in New York, the main similarity being it is also in Black and White and has a similar atmosphere, but if you liked the style of the short you should like the feature much more.....or so the theory goes...


Sunday, 26 February 2012

Autumn - A Chapter from the Book....

Autumn is a book about a young teenage boy, Sam, growing up in Dublin and having his first experiences of sex, alcohol, friendship and all the painfully excruciating events young pubescent boys go through in life. This is an early chapter in the book, chapter 5 of 30 so far. 

"Antoinette, and not the Queen of England'

The DART was almost empty apart from Daniel and Sam, providing them with the luxury of room for their feet on the opposite seats, which they greedily indulged in. Quite often Sam had been admonished by older members of society for this slight against public transport, and quite often he had ignored their variations of pleas, irritated gestures and full blown tirades. Truth be told when this did happen he quite enjoyed it. Being at the wrong end of peer abuse, however minor, gave a youth a valid free license to react aggressively in relatively placid situations, which probably led to greater indiscretions later in life such as road rage, abuse or even assault. In some cases, but not all.
Daniel was regaling Sam with another of his faintly amusing overly lengthy anecdotes concerning Japanese manga and Bruce Lee, an unhealthy obsession that coupled with a growing regard for smoking hash every afternoon after school was beginning to strain their relationship. Sam smiled appropriately and gave up trying to understand the in-jokes and convoluted story lines that he was meant to have been following, until Daniel's monologue took a sharp beat and began to describe Catriona. Sam's attention levels immediately perked up, and he began listening avidly.
"she's a fucking fox seriously"
"yeah so you've been saying"
"yeah but i mean, seriously"
"as opposed to....'unseriously'?!"
"exactly that. she's definitely the coolest girl i've ever met, amazing tits on her"
Sam waited a moment for Daniel to stare glassy eyed up at the roof, lost amidst his own illicit teenage thoughts. Daniel was bringing Sam with him pretty much as a wingman so that he could assist him in getting into her knickers as it were. The deal was simple, Daniel would bring a friend for moral support and to have a crutch to brag to afterwards if it went well, and a back up plan in case it went pear shaped, which was quite likely in Sam's mind as Daniel wasn't the most athletic sort to put it politely. For Catriona's end, she brought a friend for two reasons, in case Daniel turned out be a wierdo and she needed some assistance, or in case he was just plain boring and she had a ready made escape plan, putting the blame on her friend. Sam didn't mind being used in the slightest, he didn't really get to meet girls very often so he couldn't complain. Daniel smiled almost patronisingly across at him and after a furtive check up and down the carriage he took a cigarette and lighter out of his jacket pocket.
"you can't smoke in here"
"fuck it who cares"
Sam shook his head and stared out the window watching Dalkey beach roll by gently. A couple strolled arm in arm ankle deep in the surf whilst holding their shoes in their hands. Sam hadn't had a girlfriend yet, he had in fact yet to kiss a girl properly if you discounted the 'spin the bottle' game he had been forced to play when he was still in primary school, and kissing his next door neighbour when he was 6 definitely didn't count. Smoke wafted into his eyes and his gentle brown eyes focused on the hyperactive face of Daniel. Daniel had a way with words, always ready to engage with a quick quip, a smart response or intelligent answer, and could talk actively on a variety of subjects, constantly aware of the latest up and coming musician or film, even able to hold a conversation on politics if it was requried. Sam both admired and was painfully jealous of him for this ability that he oft attempted but consistently failed to imitate.
"i'm sure her mate is hot"
Sam raised his eyebrows incredulously.
"no you don't"
"i do, i do, seriously, hot girls always have hot mates, it's part of the law i think"
Sam's cheeks cracked into a wide smile, stretching his skin across face tightly. 
"gimme a break, 'the law'!, hot girls tend to bring ugly mates, you know that, it 
makes them feel more confident and ensures that they get all the attention. it works
out for the ugly tag a longs too cos' then they get to hang out with boys which they 
wouldn't get the opportunity otherwise"
Daniel's cigarette dropped out of his gaping mouth in a gesture of exaggerated mock shock, holding the pose with such distinction that a thin sliver of saliva found it's way past the sentry system on his dried lips and took pleasing aim at his welcoming crotch. Sam shook his head and giggled as Daniel maintained the statuesque grimace, frozen in time.
"i know that you agree with me"
Daniel managed to hold the pose with admirable stillness while manipulating his vocal chords much like a ventriloquist.
"where did all that come from, i'm 'SHOCKED'"
"yeah i can see that, keep that face for later, i'm sure Catriona would be bowled 
over by it"
"seriously, that was just soo incredibly.......deeeep"
Daniel's voice slowed down like a old motor engine gradually heaving it's last breath despite it's best efforts to keep within the land of the living. The sliver of saliva made a giant push for freedom, aided by the stream of hot air emanating from Daniel's open throat as he exhaled heavily from the exertion of holding the unnatural contortion. Hanging on the precipice of his lips, the saliva formed a heavy bead, focusing all of it's weight at the tip of it's form, begging for gravity to sweep it downwards. Daniel suddenly jerked his head sideways loosening his jaw and the liquid flew out of his mouth and splattered on to the dirty window beside him with a wet slap, and dribbled down onto the wall beneath. Daniel grimaced at the indiscretion and wiped his mouth with the back of his hand with a wide smile.
"you are right, her mate's going to be dog ugly, probably fat"
"so you agree with my theory?"
"surprisingly, for the first time when it comes to girls, i will give you some credit for insight"
"well if i'm correct, then it begs the question why did you bring me with you"
"why, why wouldn't i?"
The implications of what Sam was suggesting caught Daniel unguarded and swept up behind him like a thief, slapping him dryly across the face.
"very funny, yeah yeah. the reason i brought you is cos you haven't a clue
what to do with girls so even if i left you and her alone in her bedroom in the middle of the  night with no clothes on you'd still come out a virgin"
"i think that's a great theory, we should test that, i'll put it to her later will i?"
Daniel leapt to his feet and grabbed at Sam, who ducked under his loose hands and reached for his midriff. They grappled for a few moments, but Daniel was out of breath far too quickly and he begged for a halt to the proceedings. Sam fell back onto his seat, his features calm without a bead of sweat on his smooth skin. Daniel's cheeks were flushed, and his breathing was a little laboured in contrast. He fumbled with his hands in his pockets searching for the calming influence that would come from his illegally acquired nicotine.
"this is our stop"
Daniel nodded as he fished a lighter and a packet of Silk Cut Blue from the deep crevices of his jacket pockets and stuck one firmly into his fleshy mouth like a poor man's Clint Eastwood. The doors of the DART slid open with an easy going 'whoosh' and the two alighted on the platform of Bray station. The foot bridge brought them over the train tracks and onto the opposite side where Daniel halted suddenly, uncertainty gripping him. Sam looked at him quizzically as he stood there staring at his feet on the gum flecked platform.
"what are you doing?"
"i'm nervous"
"you're kidding me? YOU, you're nervous??"
Daniel's head bobbed up and down slowly, the tension in his shoulder muscles giving the movement a surreal halting effect.
"but you've already kissed her, a few times  i thought?"
"no, i never said that"
"yes you did, you said it loads of times"
"no no, you must have misheard me"
"oh, right then, that's a problem isn't it?"
Sam sighed and kicked out at an imaginary football in front of him, then mid kick a thought hit him and he almost collapsed with laughter, dropping to his knees as all his breath left his belly. Daniel lifted his sullen gaze up questioningly to his best friend.
"what the fuck's so funny?"
Sam put his hand out in Daniel's general direction indicating for him to give him a moment to catch his breath again before he gave an explanation, then, chest heaving from the exertion he stood up again, his hands gripping his hips for stability.
"we got into so much trouble, almost got kicked out of Mr. Cusack's class, i got sent to Fr Kelly's office, double detention, already today and tomorrow, we get an hour train ride to Bray, and now we finally get here and you tell me that you're embarrassed and haven't actually kissed this girl that you've been rambling on about for the last 2 weeks!!! Come on, you have to see the ridiculously funny side of that?!"
"well, no....i kinda feel like a nob"
"yes you are a bit of an idiot alright, but luckily for you i'm very easy going"
"ok, well, what if she hates me?"
"seriously, i don't really care. honestly. look if you're struggling, just send her over
to me and she'll see how much wittier you are and you'll be grand, i'm your sounding board to bounce off and make you look good"
Daniel visibly brightened and he stood up straight, taking a deep inhalation of the cigarette.
"you're right, cheers"
"hey, you weren't meant to agree with me"
"sorry, i kinda do"
"bastard"
"yep"
Sam mocked pushed at Daniel as they strolled forward through the exit gates as nonchalantly as was physically possible in dull grey school uniforms. They didn't have to wait very long to find who they were looking for, it was painfully obvious that the two tall slim blondes in short skirts sitting on the bench across the road was their destination from their fixated looks. Catriona, the taller, slimmer and blonder of the two stood up, flicked her cigarette out onto the pavement where it smoldered fitfully and approached them. For the first time it occurred to Sam that perhaps they shouldn't have worn their school uniforms. A variety of different possible outfit choices flashes before his eyes as he mentally tried each on and gauged her reaction by judging the imagined movements of her eyebrows when she was suddenly standing in front of his nose piercing him with her sharp green eyes.
"howrya, i'm Antoinette, what's yer name?"
Her harsh accent shook him for a moment, so far removed from the delicate beauty of her features, and he had to swallow the nausea that threatened to crawl out of his belly.
"i'm Sam"
He looked around confused, wasn't he meant to be hanging out with the ugly friend? Barely two steps to his left stood Daniel, his mouth firmly latched onto the other smaller blonde's lips, their tongues dancing hungrily around each other. Fuck. Sam had been expecting a nice simple relaxing afternoon entertaining Catriona's boring friend until Daniel had made all his plays and either succeeded or failed trying miserably, yet instead Daniel hadn't even had to lift a finger and he had already achieved his goal, and Sam was facing the most gorgeous and confidently cool girl he had ever seen in his life. In the split second that it took Sam to correct his senses and register what was going around him, it suddenly occurred to him that Antoinette was looking at him expectantly. Waiting for him to say something. His palms suddenly felt very heavy and sweaty, just like when he was in an exam and struggling badly, the wet wood of the pencil slipping from it's position between his trembling fingers, which Antoinette now lifted up, enclosed in hers and lead him away from their clearly occupied friends. Her skin felt so soft and delicate, but firm with a deep seeded confidence, a sexual maturity. He wished and prayed that she wouldn't be able to feel the sticky sweat that oozed from the pores across his skin. He found his voice again, as much a defensive reaction to give her something else to think about as anything else.
"didn't take them long did it?"
He smiled across at her, and to his pleasant surprise she smiled back at him without a hint of condescension. Her smile was radiant, easy, and he felt his own smile warping his mouth awkwardly as he became aware of it's gawkish nature.
"we should leave em alone fer a few minutes, let them get to know each otha. I told Cat that we'd meet her down at de pier and get an ice cream, that alrigh' wit ye?"
"yeah sure, i have no idea about Bray anyway"
"first time is it, where ya from?"
"howth, the other side of the city"
Antoinette looked at him, her lip curling upwards in amusement, and Sam felt his heart drop down through his chest and fix itself solidly inside his left foot giving him an instant and unexpected limp.
"howth? yer a bit posh are ya then?"
"no, why would that make me posh?"
"gimme a break, goin to a nice private school paid fer by daddy and living in the poshest part of Dublin"
"ah listen, where i'm from it isn't that posh trust me"
"yeah, why's dat?"
"ah well, just it's not all big houses and all that, there are lots of, well you know...."
He struggled to give a proper definition of the lads on the roads around him who would beat you up for a fiver without sounding really posh and describing them as having accents like hers. That would be much worse than just accepting that he was posh.
"righ' yeah, what's yer dad do den?"
"so what school do you go to?"
Sam changed the subject quickly, the conversation heading in a direction that he really didn't want it to.
"loretto"
Sam reeled back in mock amusement, the movement breaking the connection between their bodies as his hand came apart from hers. He immediately regretted it but didn't know how to just grab her hand again without appearing desperate for her affection or being too obvious about his desire for her - how could he do it like she did, so casually as if it was the most natural thing in the world. His fingers felt about as nimble as a bucket at this very moment and he knew he'd most likely end up scrabbling at her hands desperately, half hoping that something would just happen to put him out his self inflicted misery.
"wha's wrong wit going te Loretto den?"
"just as posh as Belvedere, probably even more so"
"'even more so'?? who de hell speaks like dat?"
Sam could feel this slipping away from him, washing over him like a frothing tidal wave proving that he was way out of his depth. He imagined what some of the other lads in his class would do in this situation....well they wouldn't have let go of her hand that was for sure, most likely they'd have pushed her up against the wall and kissed her eager lips with a suave energy that he had no idea how to acquire. He didn't know what to do so he just stared blankly back at her. And she laughed good naturedly. She had thought his blank look was a deadpan joke. Still giggling to herself she pushed her hips out towards him so that they bumped into him gently, the impact sending a frisson of excited energy leaping around his system screaming out for some internal implosion. He made a decision which he immediately regretted and then just as immediately was thankful for, and grabbed her hand firmly with his. It was maybe too firm he thought and was about to loosen the crushing grip on her slender digits when he caught a blush wink out at him from her smooth cheeks and her eyes flicked at him shyly on their way down to her feet. A wave of elation swept over him, followed swiftly by a crushing insecurity. She had blushed for him so by all the average laws of attraction, (of which he admittedly knew very little), then she must like him at least a little bit.......but what if she didn't and he made an ill advised pass at her only to be rejected out of hand. Or even worse was the thought that if she did in actuality like him, did she now have expectations of some sort of confidently subtle gesture to sweep her off her feet. How would he compare with all the previous guys that she had kissed, how had they acted with her, would he be looked down upon, would she laugh and tell Catriona who would in turn tell an amused Daniel in secret? He couldn't bear the thought of it when she suddenly tripped on the pavement, her foot stubbing a carefully hidden gap between two slabs of heavy concrete in the first remotely ungraceful movement that he had witnessed from her. He instinctively grabbed at her flailing body as she fell head first towards the ground, catching her by the waist and twisting her around into him. Her stomach pressed hard against his, her thin hips grating against his pelvis. She looked at him, a flicker of amusement dancing around her beautiful eyes. Her full lips regained their balance only centimeters away from his own, their breath mingling for the tiniest of heartbeats. He gasped inwardly and she giggled pushing herself back to her feet.
"i only tripped"
"i was just making sure you didn't hurt yourself....."
He suddenly found the perfect gap in conversation to flick a compliment in her direction, and in the split second that it took to cross his mind he knew that it was almost too late, it had to be spontaneous so he just said the first thing that entered his mind, it would be worse to dwell on it he reckoned....
"....you're much too pretty to allow any damage to you"
'DAMAGE'.....?!?!? What the fuck was that, who used that in a compliment, and 'PRETTY'?? He might as well have been talking about the blue finch in the back garden being chased by a rogue cat. If he could have done it without her noticing he would have punched himself in the gut. But she was staring at him with a funny look in her eyes.
"yer dead sweet ye  know dat"
He swallowed in reflex at the intensity of her look, unable to hold her eyes for too long he scuffed his feet on the pavement, being careful not to trip himself up.
"yeah, do you want to go and get that ice cream?"
"not really, ye wanna come back to my gaff?"
There was that feeling in the pit of his stomach again, the deep heavy dread that weighed him down, physically forcing his body inwards upon itself that took all his strength to hold it at bay. He looked at her. Her mascara was perfectly weighted across her eyes, embellishing her best feature. She really was beautiful. Her nose was small and cute, positioned perfectly between her eyes, button like, the type of nose that when she was a child received an abnormal amount of playful tugs and rubs from proud family members.
He found himself nodding his head without even being aware that he had thought to do so. A voice screamed at him inside his head to turn back, go find Daniel, he'd know what to do, put it off, he had managed to get her to like him so he should back away, take a time out, gather his thoughts and figure out what to do next time, like wear normal clothes, gel his hair, fucking anything. But he didn't, instead allowing himself be dragged along behind her like an eager puppy bounding head first towards the wolves lair innocently unaware of the danger it was placing itself in.

Her apartment was nice, normal, and probably relatively small for her and both her parents, but they weren't here. It felt so exotic being in an apartment instead of a house which always felt like it belonged to somebody's parents. This place could just have easily belonged to her he imagined, and maybe it even did. He half hoped though that her parents would come home and they would be forced to watch television with them, or leave and get an ice cream, then he could act annoyed but equally be admirably indifferent so she would like him even more for wanting to spend time with her. She asked him did he want a glass of water and he found himself shaking his head and then opening his mouth to accommodate hers as she pushed him back against the fridge and slipped her velvety tongue inside his orifice and slid it against his teeth. He reacted barely in time and flipped his own tongue into action, bouncing against hers roughly. Something odd hit his molar and he struggled to figure out what it was, managing to push it against his cheek while maintaining his battle for supremacy with her increasingly violent tongue. It was chewing gum. But he wasn't chewing any. The sudden realisation that it was hers struck him at the same time as she pulled away from him.
"i just gotta go to de toilet'
"sure, i'll wait here"
"well yer not coming wit me"
There was a pause between them for a moment.
"ye don't wanna come wit me to de toilets do ye?"
"no of course not"
"good, i was jus checkin', some weirdos out der ye know"
He nodded with an assurance that he hoped gave out the impression that he knew exactly what she was talking about while also dispelling any lingering doubt she might have that he could possibly be one of those weird people. He probably nodded for far too long because she gave him a long hard look, and this time it wasn't the soft quizzical gaze like earlier that had melted his insufficient defences, but held a certain condescension wrapped around it. Just like he had expected earlier, but not now. He was chewing her gum and he spat it out reactively, then quickly retrieved it from across the kitchen floor and opened the bin lid to flick it in when a thought occurred to him.....
Did he find it sexy that she had 'given' him her gum? No he definitely did not, but that wasn't important....did she find it sexy that she had given it to him? Had she done so in a giving gesture to symbolize some form of closeness between them, now he could chew her gum and they had bonded, so if he got rid of it was it then a slight that she wouldn't recover from? He heard her coming back through the sitting room and he stood up making an immediate instinctive decision, the type that has the minimum of thought running through it, proclaimed by sportsmen to be the best type of decision and which you should always follow without hesitation.
"are ye chewin me gum?"
She had applied an extra coating to her make up quite masterfully, giving it a glowing sheen that screamed out healthy sexy female at him in big bright letters.
"eh, yeah, i think so"
"uh dat's gross, just spit it out into de bin or sumtin i'm not kissin ye again if yer still
chewin it"
He lifted the bin lid again cursing any article he'd ever read about professional footballers, liars the whole lot of them. She welcomed him over to the couch and he followed her dutifully. If he had a tail it would have been wagging he pondered. She sat down on the couch and flicked on the television, turning over the channels a few times before settling for some cartoons in Irish for some very odd reason. He noticed that his hands were beginning to sweat again and he closed his eyes begging them to stop, reasoning with them that it wasn't warm enough inside the room to justify releasing excess water from his body so therefore they should just stop. His hands didn't listen. He was sitting beside her awkwardly, unsure of how to position his body in a comfortable position that was both accessible to her and cool looking at the same time. She looked so elegant by contrast, her legs crossed one over the other with such disdain that it had to have been practiced over time. Her neck arched upwards from the seat of the couch spiraling succulently to the flowing tides of her hair. Her eyes beckoned him expectantly and all fluid suddenly flew from his mouth leaving it as dry as timber. She gave him a rueful smile and leaned in to him, her left hand drifting downwards onto his crotch. It took all of his energy to not jerk away as she did so but his body stiffened with tension and she must have felt it because she pressed her lips against his and stared deeply into his eyes. He felt like he could melt into her at that moment if he wasn't so nervous about trying to do the right thing. He desired nothing more than to curl into her and have her wrapped around him like a soft consuming blanket, her skin caressing his body all over, her lips against his, but her eyes welcoming to his, allowing him to drift deeply into their pools of green magic. It occurred to him that he could fall in love with this girl if she allowed him to. The kiss was much softer this time, less needy having bypassed the initial barrier that states hot desire must be evident in pure passion when two people who kiss each other are mutually attracted. The second time can be more patient, less exploratory and much more enjoyable. Sam felt as if honey was being poured seductively into his mouth and his tongue was swimming through a crystalline pool of sugar. Her lips sucked him towards her, pulling him onto her, her hands lifting up his jumper and slipping inside his shirt to slide along his skin. She dragged her own top towards her chest and then pushed against him. Shock waves raced through his entire frame as the skin on their stomach's humbly touched. For the first time in his life he felt like he was being sucked downwards into a well of suffocatingly beautiful moments. Everything that he touched seemed to be sculpted from a bed of pure perfection, each touch a surprising exploration of harmony.

The front door rang with a jolt and she pushed him off quickly, a look of fear twisting her features into frozen rigor mortis.
"fuck that's me ma"
Sam fell off the couch, guilty despite having achieved nothing more than a brief drift of his fingers across the flesh of her neck and belly. This thought suddenly occurred to him and he was immediately rueful, and then elated at having gotten onto the couch with her in the first place. He knew that Daniel would be jealous as Antoinette was far prettier than Catriona, not that he would admit as much. He realised that he hadn't thought about anything else apart from this girl for the last two hours which was very unlike him. The sound of teenage laughter breezed into the room. He knew that voice. Daniel bounded into the room and gave him a massive slap across the back, then cupped his hand over Sam's ear for secrecy.
"my god she gave me a blowjob"
Delight was etched across his face like a wood carving to never be removed for eternity. Sam kept his composure, wanting for all the world to leap into the air and scream out the joy of kissing Antoinette that he had just had the privilege to experience while also simultaneously desiring nothing more than to thump him for interrupting them. But all he could do was smile.