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'Boogaloo and Graham': 2 boys, 2 chickens, one Oscar nod

Riley Hamilton and Aaron Lynch star in the Oscar-nominated short-film
Riley Hamilton and Aaron Lynch star in the Oscar-nominated short-film "Boogaloo and Graham," directed by Michael Lennox.

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Everybody likes to talk about who’ll win Best Picture at the Oscars, but what about those unsung cinematic heroes who make movies less than 40 minutes long?

One such film is the Oscar-nominated "Boogaloo and Graham," directed by Michael Lennox. Set in 1970s Belfast, the story focuses on two young boys, Jamesy and Malachy (played by Riley Hamilton and Aaron Lynch), and their beloved pet chickens, Boogaloo and Graham.

Boogaloo and Graham Trailer from Out of Orbit on Vimeo.

Director Michael Lennox joined Take Two for a conversation about the film.


You broke an unwritten Hollywood rule that says avoid kids and animals. You made it work, but how much work was it?

"Whenever you're working with children and animals your expectations sort of go out the window, you don't really know what to expect. But I can honestly say one hundred percent, it was the most enjoyable shoot I'd ever been on... the chickens were great, they did what they were told. The kids are non-actors so with that you get a sense of innocence and naturalness on the screen, and when it works it just really is a treasure."

I was going to ask how much experience the kids had... It looks [like] they're seasoned, veteran child actors. But they had no experience?

"Yeah well especially the younger one Riley [Hamilton], I actually found him in a kickboxing gym. Because sometimes over in Northern Ireland, I auditioned a lot of kids and they go to stage school and sometimes that doesn't work particularly well for the screen.

So I went into this kickboxing club and saw Riley arguing with his mother at the side, and he told her in no uncertain terms, this is how my evening is going to work out. And I just said that's him, that's the kid, whatever he is doing, it is right there right in front of me. So I just said to him, 'Do you want to be in a movie?' And he turned around to me and was like, 'Well how many days am I going to get off school?' That was his contract, and I was like, 'You get four days off.' And he just looked at me and goes, 'That's a deal.' [laughs] So it was just, who he was as an individual is exactly the character in the script. So my job was just to let him run free and do his thing."

What was it about the script that got you interested?

"Well Ronan Blaney, who wrote the script... he actually penned it two years ago. And I just found it extremely funny and charming, but also poignant. The Troubles in Northern Ireland was a very important historical event, and I thought this story was a different take on it. And hopefully it's a universal story. You know what I mean, there's conflict all over the world. But for me, it was the sort of small stories which happen behind closed doors about family, and the sort of madness of family life that sort of happens in any conflict... And Ronan, I think his script with the charm and humor, just seemed to represent that. And it was a dream for me as a director to get a chance to do it."