When conflict erupts in Derry in 1969 two brothers facing violence at home withdraw into their own fantasy world to escape The Troubles.
The streets were a dangerous place for anyone what with constant bombings and shootings, but there was no sanctuary at home for these boys.
Their father has become a violent evil man due to the destitute nature of life in The Bogside.
Kathleen, Coll & Sean’s mother has no one to protect her from her husband’s wrath. She is helpless to prevent the family from disintegrating.
The film opens in a speech therapist’s office. Kathleen hints to a ‘knock to the head’ being the reason why Coll says nothing.
When he returns home he is immediately confronted by the man who’s fists have silenced this poor boy.
So as not receive the same fate as his brother Sean has to stand aside as the father’s fury is unleashed. He drags Coll to a forest once their father is done with him to play their favourite game “Best Fallers”.
The spark was lit to make this film when Coll told me about his early years in Derry. Being a father of 2 it was difficult to hear his ordeal, and how he hid the pain to protect his mother affected me deeply.
We went to Derry together. I brought Sam Goldie, my DP and my co-writer Russell Davidson. He took us to the estate where he grew up.
He described his “Dirty Old Town” back how it was in the late 1960’s.
My goal was to recreate the grit, the feeling of destitution, to make it look like it was shot back in the day. The cinematography, the production and costume design were all inspired by a lot of research, and I mean a lot of research.
When Isaac arrived at the casting, which we held in a small theatre in Belfast, I knew instantly he was Coll. I could sense it in his eyes, his demeanor.
Isaac Heslip as Coll – Conan Hamilton as Sean – Leanne Rowley as Kathleen
Brendan Gibson is Father – The Therapist: Michael Byers
Directed by Gray Hughes
Written by Gray Hughes & Russell Davidson
Produced by Miles Wilkes
Executive Producers Calum Morrison & Gray Hughes
Cinematographer Sam Goldie
Casting Director Hannah Ashby Ward At Lane Casting
Production designer Will Olds
Costume Designer Sinead Skinner
Editor Catriona Delbridge
Composer Benson Taylor
Makeup/Hair designer Leanne White
Sound Design Laurence Whatley
Colourist Alex Gregory
Location & production manager: Simon Churchill
Production co-ordinator: Lucy Aldis
Casting Assistant: Grace Lyons Hudson
Storyboard artist: John Colebourn
Post producers: Charlie Morris & Jenny Standish