'We wanted to get Steve's final performance on the silver screen' - Irish director dedicates film to actor who passed away during filming
Thank You Come Again features the final performance of Dublin actor Steve Harris
An Irish film director has dedicated his first feature to one of his leading actors, who passed away during filming.
Stephen Clarke Dunne’s film Thank You Come Again features the last on screen performance of his friend, Dublin actor Steve Harris.
Steve passed away in June 2015. He died a hero after attempting to save his older brother Alan during a tragic incident in Portmarnock, Co Dublin.
A popular actor in the industry in Ireland, Steve’s sudden loss was keenly felt by his family, friends, and peers, and the director wrestled with whether or not to complete the film after his death.
With the blessing of Steve’s friends and family, however, he rewrote the film with his writing partner and actor John Sweeney, and included Steve’s performance in the final cut.
Thank You Come Again is dedicated to both Steve and his brother Alan.
“It was really shocking,” Stephen says of his friend’s death. “I had known Steve two years but he was the type of person you felt like you’d known all your life.”
“Instinctively I thought that was the end of the film but at the time that didn’t matter obviously - somebody’s life was far more important. But when we got our heads together, myself and John had a little chat and thought actually maybe there’s a way we can somehow finish this for Steve.
“We realised this would be Steve’s final on screen performance. He was very popular on the independent circuit - he’d come on set and do anything anybody asked of him. He had an absolute passion for it.
“We said we’d try our best to take it all the way and keep fighting to get Steve up there on the silver screen,” he says, adding, “We felt it was the right thing to do.”
Thank You Come Again now has a limited one week run at Omniplex cinemas. It’s an impressive achievement for a film that was five years in the making and faced numerous challenges throughout development.
Conceived one February morning as Stephen and John walked past a sex shop on the quays in Dublin, the film has everything from diamond smugglers to priests to the joy of job seeking in a recession.
A bawdy ensemble comedy set in a Dublin sex shop, the first day of filming proved to be the last (for a time) as the real shop in which they were scheduled to film was set to close within two weeks.
This was news to Stephen and the crew who were booked to film at weekends on location for a month. The production was halted for six months while they built a set from scratch, with the help of Steve’s dad, a talented craftsman.
The budget for the entire production was a “few grand” mined from Steve and John’s savings and this went predominantly towards insurance, equipment and catering ‘so people didn’t go hungry’, although the cast went unpaid.
“They knew it was unpaid but they were passionate about the film,” says Stephen, who adds that he was surprised anyone turned up to the audition, given the subject matter.
Not only did they turn up the audition, however, the cast and friends also contributed props to fill the shelves of the on screen sex shop.
“It’s amazing what people have in their bedrooms, in the back of wardrobes,” he says. “Just colourful stuff. They lent us all sorts of things to fill up the shelves. They were amazing!”
“That’s why I’d love for it to do well - to give people something back,” adds Stephen, who admits he is as nervous as he is excited about it finally landing on the big screen.
"As the director ultimately you decide what's going up there on screen and you just hope people enjoy it. It falls on the director's shoulders whether it turns out good or not but I fully believe in the performances and the work everybody put in," he says.
"You just have to make stuff and finish stuff and get it out there and when you put something out there it's a risk. People might not like it and you need to be prepared for that. They might not [like it] but also they might. So you just hope for the best."
Thank You Come Again will screen at Omniplex Rathmines, Balbriggan, Limerick, Cork and Dundalk from September 6.