Thursday 20 June 2019

Hollywood comes to Carlingford

As Carlingford played host to the cast and crew of the american film 'There You'll Find Me' last week, Margaret Roddy talked to producer Ken Carpenter

Locals among the extras on Carlingford
Locals among the extras on Carlingford

Margaret Roddy

It's 70 years since there was such excitement in Carlingford. And that is saying something for a village which claims to be the home of Ireland's last Leprechauns, hosts numerous festivals and is a popular venue for stag and hen parties.

As the cast and crew for the movie 'There You'll Find Me' rolled into the village last week, locals rolled out the red carpet for the production which looks set to put Carlingford on the international map.

The American romantic comedy stars Katherine McNamara from 'Shadowhunters' and Disney Channel star Jedidiah Goodacre as well as 'Derry Girls' star Saoirse-Monica Jackson, and veteran actors Patrick Bergin and Vanessa Redgrave.

Based on a popular novel of the same name by Jenny B Jones, it tells the story of an aspiring yet introverted young American musician Finley who comes to Ireland where she meets Beckett, a famous young movie star who is here filming. Romance blossoms between the unlikely duo as he helps her come to terms with the death of her brother.

The action takes place in an Irish seaside village and according to producer Ken Carpenter, Carlingford has proven to be the perfect location.

The American producer said he first travelled to Ireland six years ago when he was making a documentary in Belfast and actually visited Carlingford.

'The crew said they wanted to take me to this special little village across the Border and they took me to Carlingford,' he recalled.

'Last summer, the film director Brian Baugh and myself came here on a scouting trip and travelled around Ireland looking for locations for this movie. We looked all over Ireland from the west coast and on our very last day we came to Carlingfrod and immediately we saw it we knew it ticked all the boxes we were looking for,' explained Ken. 'The seed was planted several years ago and it is a dream come true to come back with a movie.'

A lot behind the scenes work goes into the making of any film and Ken said: 'It's been a real pleasure for me to link arms with my Irish producing partner on the movie, Julie Ryan of MK1 Productions. She's put together a great production crew, who have been tremendously professional.'

'Our story is set in Carlingford so when people go to the movie they will see it all taking place there, although we did shoot some interior scenes in Dublin, as well as at the Bord Gais Theatre, the RTE Studios and Drimnagh Castle.'

The cast and crew arrived in Carlingford for shooting on Monday May 27 and, according to Carpenter 'the town has been incredibly helpful'.

'We put a shout out for extras and got a great response. And although it has been quite tough for the extras with the weather, they have been so co-operative.'

One of the key scenes features a village festival and shooting for that took place over three evenings on the pier, which was decked out in festive lights for the occasion.

'Finley has gone from New York to a small village in Ireland to get her life back and it's at this festival that a local fiddler who has been mentoring her calls her on stage to play. And afterwards she dances with the guy and they exchange their first kiss.'

The changing weather conditions which brought rain on Wednesday evening did pose a problem, but not one which was surmountable, according to Carpenter.

'You plan as best you can and then you have to adapt as the show must go on,' he said 'It's a challenge but you can rise to it by bringing in extra lights or using editing techniques to brighten things up.'

Music features prominently in the film as the heroine Finley is a promising young violinist and a number of local musicians including Zoe Conway and Gerry O'Connor have been involved in the production.

'We hired a composer in Los Angeles to do the score for the movie and he wanted to engage some Irish colleagues and it so happens they included Zoe Conway who we discovered happens to live close to Carlingford.'

In addition to playing for the sound track, Zoe found herself standing in for lead actress Katherine McNamara.

'We put Zoe in a blonde wig so that we could shoot over her shoulders and film her hands when she was playing,' he said. 'She's a brilliant violinist and was great to work with.'

Likewise Gerry O'Connor found himself wearing a wig as he was hired as a double for Patrick Bergin.

'Patrick is actually a good musician who sings and plays the guitar but having professional musicians like Gerry and Zoe brings so much more to the movie,' Carpenter noted.

Several local musicians also joined in scenes at the festival and later in the pub, when shooting took place in Taaffe's Bar and around the village. This week the cast and crew will be travelling to capture some scenes at the Cliffs of Moher and Dublin, with the legendary British actor Vanessa Redgrave joining the crew for filming in the capital.

'We will also shoot some scenes in New York for the beginning and end of the film,' said Carpenter.

Aside from the boost to the local economy from having ten of the principal actors and crew staying in the village, the movie will bring a huge amount of publicity to Carlingford when it is released in cinemas next year as the village plays itself and not a fictional location.

He said that crew members working on the film who hadn't visited Carlingford before were really impressed with the location.

'Everyone has been blown away by what we found here.'

Carpenter is aware of that other famous film shot in Carlingford - the 1949 British production of 'Saints and Sinners'.

'I've seen some incredible photos from the making of that film and it's amazing how much of the character of the village has been retained.'

With a large number of locals taking part as extras, no doubt people will still be talking about 'There You'll Find Me' being filmed in Carlingford in another seventy years time.

The Argus