They’re the no-nonsense hairdressers who dare to take on a criminal hoodlum who is terrorising their community. And if Rachel Carey has her way, the women in new Irish comedy Deadly Cuts will soon be following The Young Offenders to the small screen.
The exploits of Cork’s Jock and Conor started life as a feature film before being transformed into a hit TV series, and Carey hopes it’s a model she can adopt for her characters. A TV pilot and pitch are already in the works, she says.
“That is the plan. And it was kind of always in the back of our minds. Everyone refers to The Young Offenders as the ultimate model for this. Peter (Foott) obviously did such an amazing job of translating that from such a brilliant film. And so I guess there are similarities in that what we've done with Piglinstown and the girls is create a world that has so much gold to be mined.
"We've written the pilot and the series pitch, and we're ready to go to broadcasters with that once the film has been out a little while.”
Set in the fictional Dublin suburb, Deadly Cuts sees a group of young hairdressers fight for their livelihoods and their future. Overseen by their boss Michelle (Angeline Ball), they take on a local gang who threaten the future of their small business. They also aim to make a name for themselves by entering an elite hairdressing contest called ‘Ahh Hair’.
It’s laced with foul-mouthed witticisms and a sense of fun. The makers have even used the tagline ‘No Time To Dye’ on the posters in reference to a certain other movie currently in cinemas.
For writer/director Carey, it came as a surprise when she was initially researching for her script to find how few filmmakers were telling comedic Dublin stories.
“I kind of couldn't believe my luck. I was like: ‘How has nobody else done this? This is an open goal’. Even when I was casting I was watching things and I had to go back to the Barrytown Trilogy to get those Dublin films, proper comedy.
“There just hasn't been much and we're good at it as a nation. I think it's how we communicate, it's the Irish way. It's risky I suppose - when you fail at comedy you fail. It just wasn't done and there's a tendency to have to see to do it.”
Carey has long felt that a hair salon would make the perfect setting for a comedy. A stint as a receptionist in a Peter Mark salon years ago convinced her of it. As a customer in another salon, she remembers laughing out loud when a fellow customer came in, cigarette in mouth, and said: ‘Just stick a few f**kin’ layers in the front, for f**k sake’.
“Authenticity was so important for me in the casting because I just find it quite annoying when there's bad Dublin accents on Irish shows,” says the Dubliner.
“It just grates on me and I think it's honestly because there's a lot of people who don't really know what a real Dublin accent sounds like. Other people would say: ‘That was good, she sounded good’. And I'd be like: ‘She sounded like she's from Wales’.”
While Deadly Cuts is Carey’s first feature film, she’s an experienced screen storyteller, having worked in advertising before pursuing a filmmaking career. She already has another feature in development - also a female-driven ensemble comedy.
“I came through the sneaky side door of advertising - there's a greater crossover there than people think. I was always into acting and writing and then I worked as a copywriter. I still dabble. The more I got into making TV ads, the more I kind of fell in love with the film end of things and that's when I started writing my own sketches and shorts and trying to get stuff made that way,” she says.
“Eventually I started making my own shorts. And then eventually I got some funding from the Film Board (now Screen Ireland). And from there I sort of ramped it up into my first feature, and that's when I stepped back from advertising a little bit.
“I think the training when you work in advertising really stands to you because you're just adept at coming up with solutions and ideas. Then you're also really used to selling and I think that's a skill that you really need in the film world, being able to pitch your work and adapt it as necessary. It’s a really good training ground, I think.
- Deadly Cuts is in cinemas from Friday, October 8
Deadly Cuts is peppered with young Irish stars who hold their own against seasoned talent like Angeline Ball and Victoria Smurfit.
Among them is Ericka Roe, who shines as Stacey, a no-nonsense stylist who stands up to the local criminal who is causing havoc in her community.
It’s been a busy couple of years for the young star, whose other credits include hit TV series Taken Down and The Dublin Murders, as well as acclaimed Irish drama feature Herself.
Growing up in the west Dublin suburb of Ballyfermot, Angeline Ball’s hilarious turn in The Commitments was one of Ericka’s favourites at a time when working-class female voices were few and far between, she says.
“Angeline was one of the first women I’d seen on screen with the same accent as me in The Commitments. Me and the girls couldn't believe it that we would be working with Imelda Quirke. Seeing that she's come from Cabra to where she is now and the things she's done, that's just amazing.”
She was also happy with the movie’s comic tone, not least as many stories from Dublin focus on crime, she says. “Don't get me wrong, there is crime in working-class Dublin and I do think that needs to be depicted on TV as well.
“But this is just a refreshing take. The last comedy I can remember through the working class female voice is The Snapper. As well, the sense of community in the script - these people have such a big characters, big dreams, big hearts, really.”
After studying drama in the National Performing Arts School, Roe honed her trade by setting up a theatre company with Thommas Kane-Byrne, who also stars in the film.
We will next see her in the feature film Sunlight, described by producers as “a compassionate comedy”, directed by Claire Dix from a screenplay by Kerry writer Ailbhe Keogan.
Judging by her performance in Deadly Cuts, further comedic roles are on the way.
“I feel like Stacey is quite like me in a way and when I read the script, I just remember thinking: ‘Oh my God, I have to be in this.' I couldn't believe my luck.”