Its not very often that we can say there is a big movie written by home grown talent. So when I found out that one of this summer’s highly anticipated movies was written by a Cork man I jumped at the chance to meet him. This man is Kevin Lehane, who also grew up in on the same street as Cork actor Jonathan Rhys Meyers. The movie is ‘Grabbers’!
‘Grabbers’ is classed as a sci-fi, comedy thriller, but it’s mostly comedy with strange looking space octopus – the kind of ones that make you jump! It’s kind of a Shaun of the Dead meets Alien, but set on a rural and fictional Irish island. When this island off the West Coast is invaded by bloodsucking aliens, the heroes discover that getting drunk is the only way to survive.
I was lucky enough to go to the first ever public screening of the movie and even luckier to grab an interview with Kevin.
Was it a long process getting your idea from script to the big screen?
Kevin: I suppose I just wrote a film that I would like to see myself. It’s taken a couple of years of trying to get it out there. A work colleague eventually passed it on to a colleague of his, and then we got an agent who liked it, and got the producers involved. After that it was a very quick process. It was a fast track to production, only another year, which sounds long but is actually quite quick in the film industry.
Kevin hadn’t just decided to write a script, there had been a lot of hard work before this.
Kevin: I did Film and TV production at St John’s College here in Cork. I always wanted to be involved in film from the first time I saw Jurassic Park in the old Capital Cinema, it blew my mind and I knew from that moment on that that was the job for me. Before Grabbers I had done work experience in studios in America, based myself in the UK and had written other scripts, made some short films. I’ve been at this for years, it’s only paying off now, so it hasn’t been a quick thing, its taken a lot of work.
Grabbers has a great cast, mixing some of the best Irish and UK talent. The movie stars Irish actress Ruth Bradley from RTE’s Love/Hate and British actor Richard Coyle, who recently starred in Madonna’s W/E. It also has a great supporting cast with brilliant comedy performances from Commitments star Bronagh Gallagher and Killinaskully actor Pascal Scott who plays the Doctor.
With such a great cast I asked Kevin how much input, apart from the writing, did he have in rest of the films production?
Kevin: I don’t think you can get anymore involved in the film than the writing. These great actors are saying your lines! It was unreal. I was pretty much present every step of the way, no one took my script and rewrote it or anything, what you see on screen is pretty much as it was when I started. We did have to change a couple of things as my ideas were a little bit out of the budget. Oh and we had to change a scene as Ruth Bradley can’t drive.
And how did Kevin come up with the idea for Grabbers?
Kevin: I’ve told this story so many times now that I’ve had to shrink it down. I was back-packing and I kept getting bitten by mosquitos and it really started to get on my nerves, because nothing I was using was keeping them away from me. I kept hearing the same advice from people, which was to eat loads of marmite, because of the vitamin B apparently, buts an urban legend and it didn’t work. But I liked the idea and one night I was talking to some friends while we were out drinking and it struck me that it would be a much better idea if they were allergic to alcohol…an the mosquito’s became the Grabbers.
The movie has so far won the Audience Award and the Titra Film Award at Switzerland’s Neuchâtel Film Festival and is set for world wide release, over the coming months.
Kevin: There are distribution deals for pretty much every territory, Sony Pictures have it for Ireland and the U.K. Its going on theatrical release in the states in January 2013, and its been dubbed and subtitled into many other languages too, which is odd. Ireland is the first place it’s being shown, I’m very proud of that.
I asked Kevin what advise he would give to aspiring writers in Cork hoping to emulate his success?
Kevin: The best place to start, is to do a film or writing course. I found St John’s very helpful, and I’m still thankful for it today. I do believe though that you will eventually have to broaden your horizons and look for the work further afield, I know the film industry in Ireland is getting bigger, but it’s not quite there yet. It’s all about experience and getting to make the films you would pay to see yourself… Popcorn films.
With his career going for strength to strength Kevin is now London based with agents in the both the U.K and America but does he get home to Cork very often?
Kevin: Well all my family are here, so I try to get home as much as possible. A lot of my family are going to see the movie in the Gate Cinema, but I still remember seeing my first movies at the Capital, so Cork holds a lot of good memories for me.
And what’s next for Kevin?
Kevin: Who knows? You just try and get your work out there, the next project to have my name attached to it is going to be a project called Twist. It’s a take on Oliver Twist, and is a parkour (free running in the style of vaulting, rolling, running, climbing, and leaping) 3D action film which were filming in January. I’m hoping that some of my best work is yet to come.
‘Grabbers’ is Directed by Jon Wright and is on general release from August 10th at cinemas nationwide. Find out more about ‘Grabbers’ on Facebook.