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Best week of my life! Working with Rik Mayall my hero and the Damo & Ivor TV show is filmed and ready for editing! Top 2 things on my bucket list now complete!
In 1956 (7 years before RTE even existed) my Grandfather, Captain William Stapleton created Ireland’s first television station and was the first person to produce and broadcast programmes on closed circuit television in Ireland. These photos are of Silverpine Studios, the film studio he created. What a man! Mad to think that 60 years later, Andy and I (his grandchildren) are making our own TV show! I know he’s watching down on us and in hope we make him proud :)
Finally getting around to updating my blog. It’s a new years resolution that I’m going to stick to! 2012 was the dog’s bollix! What a year! So much has happened I don’t even know where to begin. Well I suppose I’ll start with the whopper news! After 3 years of work - giving up our jobs, moving home to live with my parents, no wages, 14 hour days, non stop thinking about Damo & Ivor we’ve finally done it! RTE are giving us our own TV show for Damo & Ivor!
Let me tell you the story… Andy (my crazy cousin) created the characters of Damo & Ivor in 2006 and 2009. He had all sorts of brilliant, hair-brained ideas for a story of their lives that he wanted to make into a feature film. He’s dyslexic and struggled to take all the wonderful ideas out of his amazing brain and get them down on paper. So I offered to help him and type them up. I had no experience of scripts, but I’m a speedy typist so I taught myself how to format a script thanks to the very helpful BBC Writer’s Room website www.bbc.co.uk/writersroom This is way back in 2009 when we used to sit out in the gazebo with the laptop chain smoking like Colin Farrell after a long haul flight and laughing our heads off coming up with ideas.
Over the course of the summer our brains forged together and smelted an epic story and a load of gags for Damo & Ivor. We were rockin’ it out. Or so we thought. In July 2009 we broke open the Champagne to celebrate our finished script. It was about half a centimetre thick. What a pair of spas! A proper script would be 3 inches thick! Little did we know the long and arduous road that lay ahead that would eventually lead to feeling like we lived in a field of unicorns with pots of gold and double rainbows all the way!
I love working on the project. TV is in our blood. Both our Mums, Jan and Ann, worked as film editors in Silverpine Studios in Bray Co.Wicklow which was set up by my late Grandfather William Stapleton in the 1960’s. I’ve had a thing for TV and from an early age. Always viewing shows and wondering what was going on behind the camera during each scene? And I’m obsessed with looking out for continuity errors. When I was in transition year in school I went to, as it was then called, Dun Laoghaire College of Art & Design, open day and when I walked into the Make-Up room I… well let’s just say if I was a guy I would’ve had a full on boner! It was amazing! I worked on my portfolio night and day and got into the course with 19 others. After 2 years I was trained in Special FX make-up for TV, film and theatre. I skipped out the door thinking Steven Spielberg would be awaiting me on bended knee with his cheque book. But no… *insert sound of crickets and cue the tumbleweed*. Ah there was a bit of work, but nothing major, I didn’t want to move away as I’m a home-bird So I did all sorts of jobs - receptionist, worked in a wine shop, ran my own millinery business making hats, I made aromatherapy sprays and feng shui kits all sorts of stuff! At 23 I began to study energy and trained to be a Reiki Master. This was my full time job until 2009 when I gave it up to get back into TV. I got a job doing make-up and wardrobe for Mario Rosenstock’s tour and stuff he was doing for TV3. God I loved working with him. He’s a genius! In 2011 I decided to prioritise making my own dreams come true so after setting things up for Mario’s second tour, I handed over the reigns to a great new team and set my sights on working with Andy on Damo & Ivor full time.
We shopped our script around to a load of production companies and got lots of rejection letters. Never disheartened we continued our plight. We are ridiculously tenacious with our positive thinking! The one production company we had both dreamed of from the start was Parallel Films, they’ve made legendary TV shows and movies like Intermission, The Clinic, Breakfast on Pluto, Neverland, Treasure Island, Albert Nobbs, A Film With Me In It, Triage, Perrier’s Bounty… the list goes on! So I phoned them and asked could we send in a script? I was politely told that they didn’t accept scripts unless they were through an agent and not to send one as it would be put in the bin. I hung up the phone and said to Andy “Get the illuminous envelope!” And we sent it off with a DVD and a load of photographs of Damo & Ivor. Thankfully it landed on the desk of the right person and that was the amazing producer Ruth Carter. She said that when all the photos slid out of the envelope she knew she had to take a further look. She watched the DVD and it made her laugh and when she showed to to the others in the Parallel office they laughed too and she knew she was on to something. She rang Andy and arranged a meeting. Imagine that, everyone else rejected us but the one company that we dreamed of! That’s providence in action.
We met Ruth in March 2010 and she was keen on the project from the start. She told us that our scripts were all over the shop but we had potential. We had found someone who believed in us! That’s all the kick start we needed. I remember at the time Ruth telling us that it’s a long, long process and they had some people on their books for 3 or 4 years. I couldn’t believe that and I came out of the meeting going “Who are those saps hanging around for years trying to make a project materialize, surely it can’t take that long! They should just get a life and move on!” Little did I know. We went back to the drawing board and worked on the scripts and came up with loads more material. The funny parts were easy for us, it was all the storylines bollix and character’s motivation crap that we struggled with because we found it boring. We just wanted to write funny shit! But you can’t put your make-up on without moisturising first.
At the start of 2011 we were tired of looking at pieces of paper and we wanted to bring Damo & Ivor to life. So we wrote “Everybody’s Drinkin’” God that was so much fun! Our great friend Emy introduced us to Andy Glover and Andy Kavanagh, two brilliant music producers in Lucan and we recorded the track with them and got to work on the video. Now bear in mind, I’m a makeup artist, not a camerawoman and we have little or no money how the hell are we going to do this? We pooled our money and came up with two and half grand between us to get a music video done with a production company was going to cost at least 5 times that, so we decided to do it ourselves on this little budget (Don’t believe anything they say in the papers! It’s all bullshit!) With alot of hard work it turned out great! I sent the video to Dermot Whelan, who was friend from Twitter who at the time I’d never met in real life and he loved it and showed it to James Cotter the series producer in Republic of Telly. I’ll never forget where we were when James called. Easons in Dundrum. I took the call and mouthed to Andy “It’s Republic of Telly on the phone!!!” cue frantic hand flailing from me and a big “What’s he saying???” face on Andy. James asked who we were and I told him. He asked who the guys were playing Damo & Ivor and I told him it was one guy. He couldn’t believe it. He said he loved it and wanted to show it on Republic of Telly! Cue Andy and I legging it to Tesco to the booze aisle to buy cheap fizzy wine to spray as we couldn’t afford Champers!
When the video aired I was blown away by they way it happened. We had no experience of watching something go ‘viral’ and it was just insane to watch. I didn’t know that in 10 seconds the views would get stuck at ‘301’ as there was so many coming in at once and it would take YouTube up to 12 hours to process them and give a view count number. The press phone calls flooded in and on the advice of the fab Mario Rosenstock we did all the interviews in character as Damo & Ivor and that worked really well. I’d say it’s 50/50 now between the fans as to who knows that both characters are played by one guy. Every day there’s a comment war on YouTube between people “It IS the same guy!” “It’s not! They have different body shapes!” “Yeah! Ivor has a butt chin!” “Dey look nothin’ like each other ya fuckin tool!” etc etc.
So to fast forward through 2011 - we continued to build the brand and make more comedy music videos (still producing them ourselves) and sketches for Republic of Telly, which were great but I won’t lie, giving up production and editorial control was really difficult! Especially for a perfectionist like me! The nightclub appearances were next. We have gigged all over Ireland and that has been crazy! We decided it was best to do them in character as Damo as he was the best one for getting the crowd going. So when people ask where Ivor is we say his appearance fee is 150 grand and that always gets a laugh! It’s mad watching people meet Damo! They’re in hysterics! He signs knockers, bums and foreheads and people are crying and screaming and bouncers are trying to control them all - totally mental stuff! And it’s amazing to stand there and watch on as Damo performs the songs and I see all the people in the audience singing along and they know all the words to songs we wrote! It still blows me away at every gig we do! Speaking of which - contact firstname.lastname@example.org for bookings!
So what happened next? 2012 was even more bananas! Ruth in Parallel, who we had stayed in touch with the whole time, saw the brand we had created and saw how popular it was. So she arranged to meet Eddie Doyle the head of entertainment in RTE with us to discuss creating a TV programme based around Damo & Ivor. Thankfully Eddie has been following our progress and liked what we were doing! So Ruth applied to the BAI (the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland) to seek funding for our project. We brought Alan Keane, an experienced writer friend of ours, on board to co-write and help us structure the scripts and full time writing began! I had the candles lighting, the Buddha, Holy Mary and Padre Pio statues out, the smoke alarm was constantly going off due to all the incense I was burning and then in December 2012 we found out that our funding had been granted. I had always envisaged the moment of the news coming through and I thought I’d break down crying and shriek like I’d won the Lotto, but it was completely different when it happened. I couldn’t speak. It took a full 3 weeks to sink in. This is it. We’ve got the production company, the funding, the broadcaster, they all believe in us, we’ve got the scripts, the fan base, everything. Holy shit. 3 years of work is coming together and at the same time we haven’t even started yet!
It’s now January 2013 and we’re finishing the scripts and getting ready for pre-production. Lots of people are asking when are you shooting and when will it be on the telly? But I can’t reveal any of that yet! It will be this year though! 2013 is going to be made of WIN! Andy is in total lock down preparing for the show. The double vodka, Red Bull and Zaytoon kebab weekends have been replaced with him jogging like Forrest Gump across Dublin. He’s so in the zone. I can’t wait for him to get in front of the camera! He is so naturally talented, a born comedic performer! Working with him is amazing and, without sounding like a big gaylord, I’m honoured that he let me in to share his dream with him. We’ve formed a powerful duo and it is true when they say it takes two to make a dream come true.
I will try and keep my blog updated more regularly and I will be taking shed loads of photos during production which I will post here after the show airs ;)
Every sacrifice has been worth it. The no wages being the hardest. Everything we make goes straight back in. And with piracy these days you may have a number 1 single on iTunes but you make very little money from it. The memories for me will be the scraping together of money to make music videos and finding money to go on the piss to de-stress. Days of having empty pockets and raiding the coin jar to pay for pizza to cure our hangovers. I wouldn’t change a single thing. Hopefully in time we’ll be rewarded with riches for our creativity. Either way I’m happy that our dream is coming true, because we had a goal, we kept thinking positive, climbed over the obstacles and never gave up trying.
YouTube views: Over 6 million
Facebook page: 64,700 fans
Twitter: 17,000 followers
P.S There’s nothing else going on in my life really other than Damo & Ivor! Jaysus that’s sad isn’t it?! Donna (my best friend) and I are getting an apartment together next month! Wahooo! No more living at home with the ‘rents! Love them and I appreciate them letting me live at home, but I can’t wait to get out! Everyone I know is married and having babies. I still feel 25! My love life is non existent because I’m married to work! It’s like my life is a romantic comedy, minus the romance. It’s just me laughing at my own jokes! But I don’t care because I know my knight in shining armour (or retard covered in tinfoil) will come along at some point. It’s all “providence”! (Providence meaning - The care, guardianship and control exercised by divine direction) Which is why Andy and I called our production company Providence Pictures!
Peace out x
Damo & Ivor - Horny
Damo & Ivor - Maniac 2012