A Northern Irish filmmaker whose latest project picked up 11 awards around Europe and the US, including the Hollywood Independent Film Festival gong for Best Short, has launched a crowd-funding campaign to help get his debut feature off the ground.
Gavin Irvine, who comes from Belfast but lives in London, is hoping to raise £30,000 to fund his first full length film on the back of the huge success of his recent satirical short, Daddy’s Note.
Gavin has written his debut comedy feature – Little Dipper or Bust! – and he will direct and produce it as well. The film stars Portrush actor Andrew Porter, who was also in the 2017 local crime thriller Bad Day for the Cut.
And though the former visuals artist is now based in London, where the movie will be shot, he says Northern Ireland’s signature dark humour runs through every script he writes and keeps him bonded to home.
“The day I arrived in Portsmouth to go to art college, it was a beautiful summer day by the sea, so I stayed, but Belfast is my home city and has never left me,” said Gavin.
“I live in London now, but I love getting home. All my writing contains a character from Northern Ireland and that black humour that we always fall back on.
“I love shows like Father Ted and Derry Girls and that slightly dark humour that sets us apart. I want to champion it and that bit of blackness runs through everything I write because it’s part of who I am.”
On leaving the University of Portsmouth, Gavin worked as a visual artist, exhibiting in Norway and New York. He then decided to change direction and enrolled at the International Film School in Cardiff, where he was mentored by Ken Russell and Peter Greenaway.
In 2013 he was the recipient of the prestigious Northern Ireland Writers’ Development Award from Northern Ireland Screen (New Writer Focus) for his debut comedy feature screenplay, Spinners. The film went into pre-production but before Gavin could head home, he was involved in a horrific road accident that left him using crutches for four years and dealing with the psychological aftermath.
Spinners never got made but winning the award spurred Gavin on and he began working on new material, including his graduation film Sebastian in 2017. It was screened in a double bill with the rock opera, Tommy, directed by Ken Russell, who described Sebastian as “the best film since The Devils”.
In 2019, Gavin made the surreal comedy 2:40 to London, which won Best Comedy and the Audience Choice Award at the Brighton Rocks Film Festival, as well as a host of other international accolades.
Earlier this year, his short Daddy’s Note won Best Comedy at the Hastings Rocks Film Festival. A few hours later, Gavin found out that he was also the recipient of the Hollywood Independent Film Festival’s Best Short Film award.
“I was having a drink with a friend to celebrate and it suddenly dawned on me that it was my dad’s birthday as well,” Gavin said.
“He passed away 26 years ago so it felt all the more special that I won both awards on his birthday.”
Now Gavin wants to get his first feature up and running but is on a deadline to complete it. The film has been cast, the script is ready, and the locations scouted in London.
However, the pressure is on to raise the funds for the comedy about a washed-up gambler and champion cyclist who gets caught up in a grudge race and is forced to put his house, Little Dipper, up as collateral.
“The main location, the house that doubles up as Little Dipper, is home to one of the actors and he is having to move out soon,” said Gavin.
“As a result, we’re wanting to get the film shot as soon as possible, as we obviously need the location.
“Crowd-funding platforms are a fantastic way for independent film-makers like myself to engage with the general public, to bring people together and to keep creative control.
“We’ve already had some support from people at home which is great, especially in these tough economic times.
“Everyone needs a good laugh at the moment, so I’m hoping we raise enough to get Little Dipper or Bust! off the ground. Every pledge counts.”
To donate to the crowd funding appeal, log onto https://igg.me/at/littleDip