The story of Lavender, from seed to screen, takes place over the span of 15 plus years, so I can’t recall all the details. And some of the timelines might also be off. But I’ll do the best I can. We will be jumping around. There’s lots being left out.
I didn’t finish the film course at Humber. I’d already graduated from Radio Broadcating and done a year of television at Loyalist College of Art and Technology. So, after a year and a half at Humber, and a student film shot, it was time to move on.
I decided to move to Ireland and continued my education through other means. Aside from watching a lot of films I also read a lot of books and magazines on screenwriting and film, watched programs on the industry and industry professionals. While living in Belfast I took in a Quebec film festival.
I got the job on Divorcing Jack by calling the Northern Ireland Film Council every Tuesday at 10:00 am. I had read that that was one of the best times to call people when looking for work. I was working at Roscoff’s at the time, a Michelin Star restaurant in Belfast. I got that job because someone in the film industry in Belfast, who I’d talked to about work, said I’d need something else in the midterm and wanted to know if I’d done any serving. I said yes, so he called his wife who was in charge of hiring at Roscoff.
I went over there, had a quick interview, and was hired on the spot. One of the owners, Jeanne Rankin, was Canadian, and that didn’t hurt. She owned the restaurant with her husband, Chef Paul Rankin, they also had the television show, Gourmet Ireland. While working at Roscoff I served Adam Clayton from U2 an espresso and also got to see Bono as he was leaving. But, that’s another story.
When I got the job as trainee assistant director I was informed that I’d be a driver as well. I had no driving experience in Northern Ireland. But, they didn’t ask so I didn’t tell. However, when I showed up to pick up the vehicle the night before I found out that I was going to be driving the director, first assistant director, and director of photography in a minivan. That made me nervous. Fortunately my housemate, Siobhan, had a cousin who was a driving instructor. She called him up and he came over and gave me a lesson.
I made it through the shoot without killing or injuring anyone. However, I did scare the hell out them a couple times by turning into the wrong lane. People tend to not like oncoming traffic. They told me that it was a good thing I was a good AD because I was a shite driver.
“I was worried about that,” I said. “So, I took a driving lesson the night before I started.”
“A driving lesson!” the director David Caffrey said. “You mean you’d never driving over here before?”
“No. No,” I said. “I took that driving lesson that I just told you about.”
David was taken aback, but found the humour in it.
I bought a copy of the book, Divorcing Jack right after I was hired. I read it and then got a copy of the script, which I also read. After filming, while working on my notes for a script of my own, at the end of my bed in front of that electric fire, I decided to migrate to the south in hopes of more finding more film work, and because I didn’t see the sun once in Belfast during the month of November and that was a bit much for me to take. Give me minus twenty and sunshine any day.
When in Dublin, which offered more sunshine than Belfast, I often went to the Irish Film Institute, which had a great little bookstore in the back. When still travelling back and forth from Belfast I managed to, with the help of Konrad Jay, the first assistant director on Divorcing Jack, get two out of the necessary three signatures to get into the film union in Ireland.
After spending Christmas in Portstewart with one set of cousins and New Years in Portglenone with another, I moved to Dublin and started looking for a place. Then I had all my stuff stolen from the hostel I was staying at. Life looks different when you have almost nothing so my plans, again, changed.