interview with 'hardy bucks' director, co-writer and star Chris Tordoff, aka 'The Viper'

hardybucksWith their three part series starting on RTÉ 2 on Tuesday October 12th at 10:50pm, director, co-writer and star of ‘Hardy Bucks’, Chris Tordoff talks to Gordon Gaffney.

Gordon Gaffney: So tell us how the TV episodes of ‘Hardy Bucks’ came about?

Chris Tordoff: RTÉ commissioned 3 episodes, I don’t know whether that was due to funding issues or that they wanted to test run it. They also wanted us to introduce the characters again, but people who have already seen the show will only have to endure a few minutes of it at the beginning (laughs).

We had to get in a professional editor (Grainne Gavigan,’ Paths to Freedom’) but we were the ones cutting it and dictating what stayed in and what went out.

The biggest difference is that these ones were scripted, so we had to stay on top of story beats and narrative rather than adlibbing and doing what we wanted. This meant we couldn’t go and shoot random stuff so it was a different way of working and it did feel like a job trying to get three episodes filmed over three weeks.

GG: Who wrote scripts?

CT: Me, Martin (Maloney, Eddie Durkin in the show) and producer Mike Cockayne of Integral Productions . With Hardy Bucks it’s about the characters you don’t need big hooks or plots so we would write two or three drafts of each twenty-six page script. In rehearsals the boys would come up with new ideas or new ways of saying what we had in the script. I hope if we get a chance to make more episodes that we have a longer lead in time, the more time you have to rehearse the better, as you will find stuff when rehearsing that is funny. We couldn’t have the long meandering scenes like we had on the internet, although there are scenes in the TV shows that do go on longer than in your average sitcom. I hope it sits well with people who haven’t seen it before.

Mike helped us with structure because we would write limitlessly and wouldn’t be thinking about hook or structure. He is a director and is in tune with what we are doing and helped us keep in what we wanted in the limited time frame we had. It was a big learning curve for us all.

GG: How was the shoot?

The shoot ended up going into four weeks and we had pick ups when we were editing it. But it was strange seeing the actors clock in and do the job instead of just turning up and waiting until we are all on form and then film. Mike was on set a lot of the time and we had an assistant director, John Wallace, to help us organise everyone, and Helen McDermott who did all our set design and props. But we kept our original sound and camera guy from the ones we did right at the start. The great thing about Swinford is everything is there, all the locations are there you don’t have to go far.

GG: What was it like working with RTÉ on a TV show after working with them on Storyland?

CT: Eilish (Kent, RTÉ) was always very lenient with us, the main thing they wanted to see was the scripts, so that we weren’t throwing any curved balls. Once they had the script they were happy to let us go at it. I would have loved to have cut it aswell, but it would have been too much work. We had to have all the rushes back to Grainne at the end of each day so she could start assembling timelines. Once it was finished we just sat in with her for three or four weeks, because we had a script it was a lot more efficient then it used to be. Before it was genuinely like a documentary where we had a load of random stuff and tried to piece it together, which you couldn’t do for TV because you would be working on it for months.

GG: What else are you working on?

CT: We have the ‘Hardy Bucks’ live show and it always seems to be the student unions that book us and get the best reactions from. A tour might happen depending on how the TV show goes.

GG: What is involved in the live show?

CT: We have some musical bits, “The Viper” on the decks, Eddie Durkin will pull out the guitar and we will all have a bit of an old sing song. We do improv aswell and if you can answer a question in character it always goes down well. It’s weird to be doing live stuff but it keeps the word out there.

GG: Any advice for this years’ Storyland applicants?

CT: We were talking at the recent FAS Screen Training Ireland ‘Writing an Online Narrative’ weekend course and our advice was when your are pitching is that if you believe in your project and have your paperwork done, then just try and explain in a down to earth way what you plan on doing. You mightn’t have the experience, but if you try and win over people with enthusiasm that’s what they like to see.

‘Hardy Bucks’ starts on RTÉ 2 on Tuesday October 12th at 10:50pm.


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