Below director Nick Hamm shares a scene from “Killing Bono,” starring Ben Barnes and based on Neil McCormick’s memoir “Killing Bono: I am Bono’s Doppelganger.” “Killing Bono” opens in limited release Friday, November 4.
Based on real events, “Killing Bono” tells the story of young Irish rocker Neil McCormick and his younger brother, Ivan, who attempt to become rock stars but can only look on as their school friends for U2 and become the biggest band in the world. [Synopsis courtesy of Paramount Pictures]
This scene takes place early on in the film; The Hype (U2) have just played a school concert to hundreds of adoring kids. Neil and his brother Ivan also played the same concert and they are all traveling home on the late night bus through Dublin. The narrative of the scene is pretty simple – the kids are all buzzing with excitement and are adrenaline-pumped from the concert. The scene is both comedic and supplies some narrative interest, but most importantly it’s when The Hype transitioned from being a school band to announcing themselves as U2.
We wanted to find a way of being authentic to the moment and to get that very “real” feeling of 17-year-olds babbling away and taking the mickey out of each other. We had initially set the scene on the seafront where they would be buying french-fries from a local diner but it seemed sedentary and stale. It just didn’t convey the right energy. Moving the scene to a late night bus jammed with kids smoking and eating chips, with condensation running down the windows gave it movement and focus which it would have been lost in an exterior setting.
I wanted the feeling of the scene to be a mess of overlapping dialogue, swearing, laughing and giggling-boys out on the town. It’s also a very funny moment: our heroes are incredulous that Paul Hewson will now be called “Bono” and that the band would suddenly be re-branded. The bus dissolves in laughter at the ridiculous idea that “U2” could be a good name for a band.
In order to get the right feel, I actually did shoot the scene in a bus. We drove the bus in circles around a town in Ireland for hours on end. As anyone who has tried filming on a real bus knows, it was bloody difficult. It was cramped, sweaty and hot. There was no room for the camera, let alone the actors. As we were on the top level we also swayed around. The driver had to continually break and change directions because we didn’t have permission from the local police. However, I planned this; I wanted the feel of manic claustrophobia. I liked to know that I could shoot close up and handheld. I wanted to feel part of it. This gave it a sense of speed and urgency but most importantly a sense of reality. We were all part of this adolescent group, high on the promise of their future. It was a scene I knew would resonate with people; which one of us hasn’t been there?
It was exhausting both physically and mentally but I felt, as did everyone on that bus, that we were capturing an authentic moment of rock history played out against a nostalgic urban background.