The film was written and directed by Portstewart-based novelist and film-maker Philip Henry, and features a wealth of local talent both behind and in front of the camera.
The film is a full-length feature made for only £3000, something no-one thought possible, including Northern Ireland Screen who co-funded the project. ‘I think they thought I was mad,’ says Philip. ‘I had to explain to them that I had been making short films for as little as £50 in the past, so £3000 was a big budget to me.’
Philip admits though that the film would not have been possible without the support of the local community. ‘The only reason I could bring the film in for such a small amount was because so many people helped us out for free. The actors and crew worked for little more than crisps and Coke, and we were given lots of props, costumes and locations from all sorts of people who just wanted to support local film-making.’
Parts of the film are shot in Ballymoney NRC where Philip Studied Performing Arts after leaving Ballymoney High School. ‘The NRC really came to our rescue when a previous location fell through,’ says Philip. ‘Two NRC lecturers also contributed to the film; Peter McMullan who teaches animation did the CGI effects for the film, while Thomas J. Smyth had a Busman’s holiday making the special make-up effects, animated prop effects and props, as well as acting in the film and serving as producer.’
‘Thomas was originally just cast as an actor, but when I found out all the things he could do I naturally employed his talents elsewhere,’ says Philip. ‘We even tweaked the script in places when he would come up with a prop he wanted to make. If we could squeeze it in, we would. He also proved instrumental in securing many of the locations we needed and getting us the loan of a vintage Jaguar car from Ballymoney man Jim Carey.’
‘Thomas really did go above and beyond the call of duty on this film, which is why I made him a producer,’ says Philip. ‘He found us extras and locations at a minute’s notice, all whilst juggling a part in the movie at the same time.’
Thomas stars as the mayor in Noirland, while another Ballymoney actress, Maggie Montgomery, plays his wife. This is the second time Thomas and Maggie have played a husband and wife in one of Philip’s films, the other being in his short film Ghosts of Us in 2012.
The film also features Michael Gray from the town as a man determined to make his stag night one to remember.
Ballymoney NRC isn’t the only local location to feature in Noirland. The two key outdoor scenes were both shot in different areas of Leslie Hill Farm. ‘We were there at the same time they were making the sets for Dracula Untold,’ explains Philip, ‘and they let us borrow a spade off them, and that spade is in the film!’ Philip says with a smile. ‘That’s as close as this film got to being involved with a major studio.’
A key scene is shot in Ballymoney Town Hall, where the film is screening, but the production spent most of its time in Ballymoney in the back room of Daniel Gillan’s bar. ‘That isn’t as much fun as it sounds,’ says Philip. ‘We shot for fourteen hours that day and because certain people could only come at certain times it was all shot out of sequence, so it was really hard to remember what had been done and what hadn’t. Daniel was great though, and gave us all the time we needed. I know he’s anxious to see the film, so I hope he likes it.’
Noirland premiered at this year’s Belfast Film Festival in March. ‘That was a great night,’ says Philip. ‘Other films were only getting 20 or 30 people and we sold out the cinema. The crowd absolutely loved the film, making all the right noises in all the right places.’
This screening is open to the public and everyone is welcome, though parents are advised that the film contains strong language and violence.
Noirland will be doing its final screening of this little tour in Derry. Time and date are TBC but will be available through HYPERLINK “http://www.philiphenry.com” www.philiphenry.com or find NoirlandTheMovie on Facebook.