Ahead of its World Premiere at the IndieCork Film Festival, Scannain caught up with Crooked Gentleman to talk about their new independent feature The Legend of Harry & Ambrose.
The film follows two British Red Coat soldiers as they navigate the throes of impossible love while facing the responsibilities of the British rule in Ireland, and an alien abduction.
Johnny Elliott and Jeff Doyle star as the eponymous pair, with support from Jenn McGuirk, John Connors, Bryan Quinn, Chris Newman, Anthony Murphy, Ryan Lincoln, Jed Murray, Stephen Clinch, Cora Fenton, and Tania Notaro.
The Legend of Harry & Ambrose is written by Doyle and Elliott, with the pair joined by Shaun Ryan on directing duties. Ryan also provided editing and cinematography, with Doyle as producer.
Where did the characters come from?
The characters of Harry & Ambrose originated in the mountains of Wicklow on a cold, crisp, winter’s morning. We, (Crooked Gentlemen) were shooting a music video based around two British red coat solider’s marching a peasant Irish man to his death. The cold was cutting into us, the rain was stinging our faces, so simply to distract ourselves from the misery of our surroundings, we slipped into these two characters and a whole day of pissing rain and freezing misery, turned into a laugh-a-thon. Maybe some of the laughter was brought on by delirium, but for us, the characters sense of self entitlement and cruelty towards the poor actor playing the Irishman was a source of immense fun.
What led you to this particular story?
We had several scripts that were in various stages of development with the intent of approaching funding bodies. However, we had one script that read like a it was written by a man in a straight jacket with boxing gloves on and no funding body in their right mind would touch with a barge pole. This was the script we devised around the two characters born on that cold, wet, Winters morning on the mountain. A script entitled ‘The Legend of Harry & Ambrose”. Maybe it was the prospect of waiting months for a potential green light or maybe we just had ants in our in pants. But like crooked idiots we decided to make another self funded feature film. Only this time it would be a “Hollywood” period piece.
And what is a “Hollywood” period piece?
The Hollywood model for a historical drama has always more or less concerned itself with the sufferings of the aggressor. Even when Hollywood has attempted to investigate more contemporary history it has mostly been about the inner turmoil and moral dilemmas of white westerners, with the occupied population reduced to nothing more than disposable ethnics. Take Michael Cimino’s “The Deerhunter” the portrayal of the Vietnamese as dark savage entities is something we tend to ignore for the sake of cinematic admiration. Although there has never been one single documented case of American soldiers being forced to play Russian roulette, a generation grew up believing it to be fact. Heroic white westerners and disposable ethnics have been a recurring combination in various ways throughout the history of cinema. From, The Birth of A Nation to The Magnificent Seven to the more recent, American Sniper.
How does your film differ from its inspiration?
Essentially we set out to make a parody of a historical epic and in true Hollywood style we would do absolutely no research on the subject. I mean lets face it if Mel Gibson can tell us that William Wallace impregnated the wife of King Edward’s homosexual son, anything is possible when it comes to history. So the motto when writing the script was “if you are going to fuck history don’t be gentle with it”. We soon realised that the possibilities of our Hollywood approach were endless. All we needed was some psychotic white westerners, a tribe of disposable ethnics, some sex and throw in a space ship for good measure and we were on our way.
So what now?
Now our deranged film is going to have not only its Irish premiere but its world premiere at the Indie Cork film festival this October. We are truly terrified to see what the audience think of our version of Irish history.
The Legend of Harry and Ambrose plays IndieCork on Saturday October 14th at 6.45pm at the Gate Cinema. The directors Crooked Gentlemen will be present to introduce the screening.