'Happy Lands' actors will become lords of the ring

Published: 29 Jul 2011 09:304 comments

Two young West Fife actors are packing an extra punch in the mining movie 'Happy Lands' after going into the boxing gym for the first time.

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Aaron Jones and David Reilly have key roles in the Theatre Workshop Scotland film which tells the story of the momentous miners' strike of 1926, set in the Kingdom.

The coalmen were fighting for their jobs, their livelihoods and their families. With so much fighting going on, some boxing coaching was required and the film-makers were knocked out by the results.

It is planned to premiere the film next May or June and it will then be entered for glittering red carpet festivals around the world.

There's a good chance it will be screened by the BBC and it is hoped the movie will repeat the award-winning success of the TWS' only previous film production, 'Trouble Sleeping'.

Aaron (16), from Crossgates, plays miner and promising boxer 'Wee Baxie' and when his sister falls pregnant he has a punch-up with David's character, Joe Guthrie.

To make the scene as authentic as possible, the pair went along to the gym at Camdean Community Centre run by local councillor Pat Callaghan.

Within three weeks Pat and coach Craig Nicholls had knocked them into shape and when it came to the fight scene - filmed at Kelty Boxing Club - director Robert Rae was delighted with the results.

Aaron is one of Scotland's most promising young actors, having earned rave reviews for his performance in the Lyceum Youth Theatre play 'Bassett', as the Press reported earlier this year.

He said, "I was quite fit as I play hockey, five-a-side football and do some cycling but I've really enjoyed boxing and would like to keep the training going on.

"Pat worked us really hard and there's was a huge difference in our fighting from when we started to when we did the filming.

"The director looked happy any way and it was big grins and hugs. It's a film where everybody is involved in putting forward ideas. There are bits in the script where you'll say 'That doesn't sound right for this area' and they'll change the words."

David (23), from Duloch, got the rough end of the deal, playing the character being duffed up and received bruised ribs in the line of artistic duty.

He said, "After the first training session I could hardly move for four days but your body soon gets used to it. I hadn't been doing much sport so I'd been a bit lazy and felt the effects."

Part of the training involved being punched on the back and stomach by other club members to learn how to take a blow.

Aaron, who has just left St Columba's High School, has just heard he has landed a leading part in a play at the Edinburgh Fringe, 'The Tour Guide'.

He is also delighted to have won an apprenticeship at Bridgeforth Engineering, Inverkeithing, which he will be starting soon.

David has not done much acting since leaving Inverkeithing High School where he took drama but has enjoyed being involved in the film project since back in November. A document controller, he was employed on the installation project for the Goliath crane at Rosyth Dockyard.

Pat laughed, "The two of them were boxing like pansies when they first came in, hands up in the air. It's been a steep learning curve and they've done great in a short time.

"They've really taken to boxing, their technique is good and I've said that wherever they go they should find out there the nearest boxing gym is. It's a great way to train."

Michael Pedersen, marketing manager for TWS, "It must have been hard to learn lines at the same time as learning to box but it went very well.

"We've had tremendous support from the Fife community. The local people have been involved in all aspects of developing the script, the costumes, the sets.

"We're telling the story of Fife and it's got to come from people there, some having relatives who lived through these events."

Filming is scheduled to run until 21st August and will include the erection of a specially constructed set of miners' rows - the traditional housing in coal communities. Filming took place in Dunfermline's Canmore Street last week and future locations include former mining village Oakley.

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