Comedy following the money

Pat Shortt and Fionnuala Flanagan in Life’s A Breeze, a comedy about a Dublin family’s hunt for a mattress of money; inset, newcomer Kelly Thornton.

Comedy following the money

Lance Daly’s delightfully offbeat film, Life’s A Breeze, is a charming tug-of-war between optimism and pessimism.

The self-styled ‘recession comedy’ stars Fionnuala Flanagan, Par Shortt, and newcomer, Kelly Thornton, as three generations of a Dublin family who have to retrieve a mattress full of cash that was inadvertently chucked out.

The film explores sadness and joy. At the film’s premiere at the Galway Film Fleadh, Thornton won the Bingham Ray New Talent Award.

Her understated and unassuming performance, as Emma, was Thornton’s first acting experience. She was plucked off the street by a casting agent in August, 2011.

“I was walking down Grafton Street with two of my mates,” says Thornton, “and this woman just approached me and asked if I’d like to audition for a new film. I said, ‘Aw, I don’t know,’ but my friends told me that I should do it for a laugh. All I had to do was say my name, and a bit of other stuff, into a camera.

“They showed it to the director, later, but at the time I didn’t know that, so when I went home and told my mam that some random people came up to me on the street, she said, ‘What? What were they doing filming you?’. She thought it was real weird.”

The film’s production people contacted Kelly again to invite her in for an audition proper, in The Factory, the Ringsend-based studio founded by Daly and his fellow filmmakers, Kirsten Sheridan and John Carney.

After the first round of auditions at The Factory, Thornton was invited back for a second round with 12 other girls.

“For the second audition, we had to learn a couple of lines from the script,” says Thornton. “I didn’t really have much of it learned. I wasn’t very professional about it, since I hadn’t acted before.

“I just thought, ‘Aw, I’m not going to get this’. But Lance had a word with me and gave me a chance to go out to the car and look over my lines. Looking back, now, I suppose he thought I’d be good for the part.”

Perhaps the fact that Thornton didn’t seem too eager was what won her the role?

“Yeah,” she says. “Maybe I stood out. Everyone else came with their scripts and these little folders with them. Obviously, they’d been to auditions before. I was like, ‘Was I supposed to have something with me?’ I didn’t know.”

Thornton is no longer a greenhorn.

Having fallen in love with filmmaking, she is signed up to a talent agency, has her mum onboard as an ‘unpaid manager’, and recently landed a small part in the new season of RTÉ’s hit drama, Love/Hate.

“That was really exciting,” she said. “I watched Love/Hate all the time, so I couldn’t even believe that I got to audition for it.”

For Kelly Thornton, the breeze is blowing in a promising direction.

* Life’s A Breeze is in cinemas now.

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