That black and white Newcastle United football scarf is a dead giveaway. Derek, the bass guitarist of The Cocksure Lads is supposed to be from Leeds in Yorkshire England but in the movie, set to premiere at select Canadian theatres August 5th, he is wearing a piece of supporters’ attire that would only be worn by someone from Newcastle.
A scene early in the movie about four English up-and-coming rock stars, about to make their North American debut in Toronto has group members; Derek (Luke Marty), Dusty (Lyndon Ogbourne), Reg (Adam McNabb) and Blakey (Ed Hillier) being ejected from the Feathers pub by bartender Alan Doyle after a couple of local thugs had the audacity to dip Derek’s scarf in a pint of beer. “You don’t touch the scarf.” he fumes before plowing into one of the miscreants.
Luke Marty laughs when the faux pas is pointed out as we meet for a pint at the Broken Head pub in Toronto’s Liberty Village. Turns out there are only two Tykes (Yorkshiremen) in the cast are Hillier and McNabb with Ogbourne a native of Swindon and Marty, himself born in Worthing Sussex on England’s south coast.
Murray Foster, director, writer and producer of The Cocksure Lads is a stickler for authenticity and when it came time to actually shoot the movie in April 2014, he decided at the last minute he wanted his band members to have Northern accents. “I had been involved with the project from the beginning, I had been featured in a short promo film as Derek and Murray and I would go in character as The Cocksure Lads to various fund raisers and promotional events and we would always go as Cockney characters (Londoners),” explained Marty. “And then maybe two or three weeks before shooting, we had finalized Adam (McNabb) and Lyndon (Osbourne) were flying over to complete the band and in the promo clip they had shot together, they both had Northern accents, so Murray asked if I could do a Northern accent too.”
The Cocksure Lads movie developed out of a number of songs Foster and Mike Ford had written whilst members of recording group Moxy Fruvous. With band members Dave Matheson and Jian Ghomesh, Moxy Fruvous started life as a group of buskers on Toronto streets but their schtick became so popular they developed into a fully fledged recording group, performing with the likes of Bryan Adams and Bob Dylan during an eight-year career which ended in 2002.
During this time, Foster and Ford challenged each other to write authentic songs which sounded like tracks from the 60’s British Invasion period. Once they had penned a batch of these tribute songs to the 60’s the pair decided to record an album in 2010, creating The Cocksure Lads as the name for this fictitious band. “The Greatest Hits of the Cocksure Lads (1963-1968 was subsequently released but when Foster decided to shoot a video to promote the record, that video evolved into a full scale movie project. A second record, “Mad Lad Plan” was released in early 2015.
“Emily Andrews, one of the producers knew me and knew I was a natural British person and they wanted to shoot a promo to raise money for a short film,” Marty explained. “I think I tested for all four roles and they liked me for Derek, the bass player. So they brought me in for a two-day promo shoot and then Murray decided to expand the project to a full movie script”
“I was there at the beginning, like four years ago, Murray asked me for my feedback and I got to feel involved in the project,” he continued. “I wasn’t part of the production team but I stayed involved with the development of the process and they even let me participate in auditions of other cast members. There were a couple of times when it was like, `Are we going to shoot yet’, and then some funding fell through and the shoot got delayed. This happened a number of times and then when we got to last April it was like; `Are we actually going to shoot now?’ `Yes, oh great!”
Marty credits the production team of Foster, Tamara Doerkson, Darren Portelli and Emily Andrews for their tenacity in raising the funds to keep the Cocksure Lads project alive.
The final piece in the Cocksure Lads’ puzzle was completing the band lineup. Marty and fellow ex-pat, Ed Hillier, as the drummer Blakey had been on board from the beginning promos but Foster struggled to cast the lead singer and lead guitar player. “Either the people Murray auditioned had decent accents but the wrong personality or they had strong personalities but they couldn’t nail the dialect,” laughed Marty. “We did have two other members cast but they couldn’t wait for the the production to begin and ended up joining the union” (which meant they couldn’t be involved in a non-union project).
Relief came in the form of two English actors, Lyndon Ogbourne, who had forged a reputation on British soap opera, Emmerdale as the roguish character Nathan Wilde and had also appeared on the popular crime series, Spooks (known in Canada as MI-5), drafted in as lead vocalist Dusty and another experienced actor and pro singer , Adam McNabb as Reg the lead guitarist.
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“Lyndon had a different take on the character Dusty than any of us expected but it worked so well,” noted Marty. “It was so great for the two of them to come over. Adam as his own band, he sings opera and he’s an all-around funny guy and Lyndon had so much experience to bring to the project. They only came over a few days before we started shooting but we shot a major group scene first and the climactic performance scene last so we had time to fuse together as a band and it was all good fun.”
Executed on a tight budget around downtown Toronto with principal photography shot in just 18 days, the synopsis deals with a British rock group arriving in Toronto to launch a North American tour. An argument breaks out within the band when Dusty(Lyndon Ogbourne) announces that as he is the band’s principal songwriter, he should get the majority of the publishing revenues. This triggers a revolt amongst the band with Reg, Dusty and the tandem of Derek and Blakey heading off in various directions and involving themselves in various escapes as they try to resolve their problems prior to that night’s big gig (which was actually staged at the Great Hall (Dovercourt and Bloor).
With cameos by Alan Doyle (Great Big Sea) and Walk Off The Earth (as punk band The Black Flames), Foster’s Cocksure Lads movie was well received when it screened at the 2014 Whistler Film Festival and has subsequently won the Special Jury Prize at the 2015 Niagara Film Festival and Best Editing Award at the 2015 Tenerife International Film Festival in Spain.
“This may have been a budget job but the crew were so professional, they were absolutely amazing,” enthused Marty. “If the cast screwed up, they would work with us to get it right, when you see the results they achieved with so few resources, they were so on point.”
Marty saves most of his plaudits for Foster who did a super human job to pull this project together. “Murray has literally lived and breathed this project for the past four years,” he continued. He wrote the songs, , he performs in a live Cocksure Lads band (with Ford, guitarist Tim Bovaconti and drummer Blake Manning) wrote the script, raised the finances, produced the movie and directed it. In my mind, he blows this out of the park. It’s important your director has a vision for the movie and Murray had a very clear idea what he wanted this project to be. I can’t imagine the work he has put into this.”
Marty says The Cocksure Lads movie strikes the right balance of silliness with an element of honesty running underneath that makes the film really special in his mind. “I had a lot of people telling me to stop putting time into this project, giving up my time going to all those fundraisers. They thought it was never going to happen but I believed in this project and The Cocksure Lads movie has already exceeded my expectations. The fact is we completed the project and on August 5th people will actually be able to see it on the big screen.”
Marty’s appearance in the movie has also sparked outside acting opportunities for him this year. He has already starred in a Coors Light Beer commercial, appeared in Andy Garland’s play, “And Then The Lights Went Out at Stage West in Calgary, has had small roles in television shows like Killjoys, Rogue and Mayday and will be shortly heading out to Halifax to appear in Great Expectations at the famed Neptune Theatre. Marty has also done voice work for Ubisoft Video Games and will later this year appear in an Ethan Hawke movie titled `Regression’.
The Cocksure Lads movie will be premiered August 5th in select Landmark Theatre locations across Canada (see http://thecocksureladsmovie.com/screenings/ as part of the Canadian Indie Films Series and will be released nationally August 7th.
As for a possible sequel? “You never know,” responded Marty. “It depends on how well the film is received but there’s already talk of a Cocksure Lads television series. With Murray Foster, anything is possible.”