Belfast’s Michael Conlan has added his voice to the chorus of boxing stars and Hollywood A-listers backing GUARD – a boxing film set to go into production in Belfast early next year. So far though, only 86% of the budget has been raised, with a few days to go before the deadline.
Written by The Fall’s Bronagh Taggart – who also penned BBCNI’s 6Degrees – the film is to be directed by husband and fellow Belfast actor, Jonathan Harden, best known for roles in Peep Show and Unforgotten.
Speaking from LA, where he is currently training for his professional debut in Belfast next year, Conlan said:
“GUARD’s a cracking project and it’ll be a great wee film. I’m getting behind it and I encourage boxing fans at home to do the same. A boxing movie set in Belfast, it’s been a long time coming”
The project has also attracted the online support of Carl Frampton and Kellie Harrington. The first pro boxer to join the team, however, was two-time British champion, Paul Smith Jnr. Speaking about Taggart’s preparation to play the lead role, Smith Jnr commented”
“Bronagh’s trained really hard. It’s going to be brilliant”
Well-known boxing fans Liam Neeson and James Nesbitt have also voiced support for the project, with Nesbitt to be credited as an Executive Producer. Speaking about the raft of superstar backers, director Harden commented:
“The support we’ve had has been amazing. The other day I woke up to an email from Liam Neeson’s agent offering his support. About an hour later, we heard from Gillian Anderson. And now we have Michael Conlan fighting our corner in LA. It shouldn’t be a surprise any more, but each new name gives us renewed confidence in what we’re doing. If Liam Neeson likes the script, we must be doing something right! We’re on solid foundations, now we just need to get the money together and get it made.”
Belfast-born Geraldine Hughes, who starred alongside Sylvester Stallone in Rocky Balboa, is the latest name from the movie industry to join the long list of backers. And Hughes, a veteran of Hollywood’s biggest boxing franchise, sees award-winning potential in the project. Speaking from her home in New York, Hughes suggested that Guard could be a contender for an Oscar:
“Jonathan and Bronagh are a courageous pair who are creating a piece of work with great nobility of purpose. I support them 100 percent and am excited that a female character is getting into the ring and will no doubt be bringing another Northern Irish film to the Oscars.”
Those making GUARD are no strangers to success. The team already includes Glengormley BAFTA-winner Michael Lennox, the Emmy award winning casting director of Game of Thrones, Robert Sterne and RTS award-winning local filmmaker Sean Murray.
But there’s still no guarantee the project will reach its target. With only a week left of their crowdfunding campaign, the team are 20% short of the £12,000 needed and are hoping the people of Northern Ireland will step in to get the film made. In return for donating, investors benefit from a range of ‘perks’, including tickets for the premiere, signed memorabilia and exclusive GUARD merchandise. For £10, you can see your name in the credits alongside fellow supporters, including Conlan, Smith Jnr, Nesbitt, Neeson, Anderson and Hughes, plus Northern Irish actors Bronagh Waugh, Niamh McGrady, Karen Hassan, Martin McCann and Packy Lee, who have all already contributed. And the team are also pledging 5% of all money raised to Women’s Aid NI.
Speaking from London, James Nesbitt appealed to people to support the film before it’s too late:
“it’s the most magnificent, poignant script and I have every confidence that Jonathan and Bronagh will make it the incredible drama it deserves to be. So go on. Join me. Back Guard.”
To find out more and to back the film, visit: www.belfastboxingfilm.com