Kaleena Kiff and Holly Brydson sat down with Blogcritics for an interview at the Whistler Film Festival. They are both producers for Robert Carlyle’s directorial debut, The Legend of Barney Thomson, which had its North American premiere in Whistler last weekend. Robert Carlyle was also at the festival to receive the Maverick Award, walk the red carpet, and hold a Q&A with the audience after the premiere screening. Barney Thomson was the runner-up for the 2015 Whistler Film Festival Audience Award.
Do you have a favorite scene from the filming?
Kaleena: I think probably one of my favorite scenes was at the dog track. It was a place that was really special to Carlyle and his dad. They used to go there when he was a little boy and bet on the dogs. For years, they wouldn’t let anybody film there but our amazing location manager, Pete Murphy – he does Game of Thrones. He sweet talked us in there and we went and Carlyle explained to the management why it was a special place. They said, “All right, you can do it.”
It was such a beautiful sequence of the film. On top of that, you’re in there with all of our extras and our crew. But then [there are] the real Glaswegians there at a dog track race. It was so full of real color. My kids were there that day. Emma Thompson’s there acting like Cemolina. It was just a neat, surreal day.
Holly: That’s a really tough one. I loved the Bingo. My mom was actually in the foreground in the Bingo scene, which is quite funny. And John Lenic, who is the other producer, his mom is there as well. They’re pretending to play Bingo together. That was really cool, being in the Barrowlands ballroom because it’s such an iconic place in Glasgow.
I loved the interviews with the ladies. We had originally three women and just different characters. They’re just so bizarre and they’re in this strange location. I really enjoyed that. It was a lot of fun.
The film is about Barney Thomson, a hapless barber who falls into the world of serial killing.
Kaleena: Literally falls into it!
What do you think has been appealing to audiences as you’ve screened it?
Kaleena: I think the gallows humor is really traveling well, especially in the UK. We had a wonderful theatrical release there and of course, the BAFTA. I think people really like that dark edge to their humor. There’s nothing schmaltzy about this film. And you’re laughing through these incredibly awkward moments. There’s a great scene where Barney is being interviewed for the first time by the detectives and he’s so guilty. It’s a little off-color to say, but “he’s turning s***ing himself into an art” is one of my favorite lines that Ray Winstone’s character Holdall says. It’s so tense and you’re so afraid for [Barney] but you’re laughing because he’s so bad at this. I think that people are really getting a kick out of that.
But I think the highlight is Emma Thompson as you’ve never seen her. She was terrifying and so funny! She would come to set really in character, not super method, but still she–
Holly: She really was. When she was walking down the stairs in her full makeup, she was supporting herself. She was walking like she was, you know, seventy-five. She stayed in it as long as she had the makeup on. She was right there.
Kaleena: A lot of choice swear words coming out of that mouth, which was really fun to hear.
The production world has changed with the advent of all these companies like Netflix that have taken on distribution. How has that changed your work and made it either more challenging or easier to get your creative productions out?
Kaleena: I think it’s actually a benefit in the long run. I think theatrical [releases have] always sort of been the Holy Grail for filmmakers, but it’s not where most people engage with films anymore. Most people are downloading them on their laptops or they’re watching them on Netflix. I think a film like this is going to have a wonderful life there because – I mean, Carlyle alone, his cult following – that’s where they live. They’re going to love this film and see it on VOD or Netflix or wherever it lands and love it there. It works on a big screen. It works on a small screen.
For our other projects, it just gives us access that we might not have. You know, you sweat and bleed to make these films that you love so much. Then if you don’t have a big theatrical release, without the Internet, they would just go nowhere. Thank God we now have all these different ways to attract and engage an audience and make them part of our journey. I can’t wait to see what our next thing is, because we’re going to add multi-platform aspects to it and it’s an opportunity to make it part of a bigger story.
Is there anything else you’d like to add, Holly, about the film?
Holly: I’m just appreciative that I was able to work with and watch Emma Thompson and Robert Carlyle on set. That was so incredible because I’m new to the industry. All around, I’m just so appreciative that I could see Kaleena, John, and everybody work on this.
The film is currently on DVD in the UK. It’s going to be out in 2016 in North America. Thank you so much for your time and congratulations on the Scottish BAFTA Awards.
Kaleena/Holly: Thanks![amazon template=iframe image&asin=B00X797M9I][amazon template=iframe image&asin=1910449318]