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Following Toonari Post’s recent review of ‘Jump’, here is an interview with the film’s leading lady Nichola Burley. Nichola is a young actor from Leeds, England who has appeared in such projects as ‘StreetDance 3D’, ‘Shameless’, ‘Scott & Bailey’, and the upcoming ‘Twenty8k’. Here, she tells Toonari Post about the experience of working on ‘Jump’, filming in Northern Ireland and much more.
Toonari Post (TP): Can you describe the initial appeal of ‘Jump’ for you?
Nichola Burley (NB): When I initially read ‘Jump’ I was engrossed by the realism of playing two completely different emotions and scenarios against each other. Happiness and hope against numbness and sadness.
TP: You had to develop a Derry accent for the role. How much of a challenge was this and did you spend any time in Derry prior to filming to get the accent right?
NB: I had thought and learnt [sic] for the most part a general Northern Irish accent. Upon arriving in Belfast for rehearsals, I was asked more precisely to have a Derry accent and I had no idea what it was. It soon became about working with the voice coach on specifics and learning from cast and crew.
TP: Most of ‘Jump’ was shot on location. How did you find this shooting experience in comparison to working primarily on an enclosed set/sound-stage?
NB: It was fantastic to be on location, you can’t fake or pretend the feelings and atmosphere you can get from being in certain places. The Foyle Bridge was beautiful yet daunting. I was told many stories about the Bridge and often found it eery standing on the bridge, looking at beautiful views knowing for some people it symbolised very different things.
TP: Your character Greta is the emotional core of the film. Can you talk about the journey she goes on the film and what perhaps you found either particularly rewarding or challenging about playing her?
NB: Greta is a fantastic person. Someone who at that point in her life, and I believe for a long time, has come to feel numb and empty. She’s surrounded by materialistic things that serve as no real purpose to her and longs a great sense of feeling, belonging and true want. At the pit of this feeling, she meets Pearse (Martin McCann) who, without maybe knowing the extent of his actions, sheds light on to Greta, saving her in a number of ways.
TP: The cast in ‘Jump’ is pretty remarkable and diverse, yet the majority of your scenes are with Martin McCann. What was it like working with Martin, and is there anyone in the cast with whom you would have liked to have had more/any scenes?
NB: The cast of ‘Jump’ are all remarkable and delivered their characters with such ease. I was extremely lucky to have worked with Martin McCann. A very intense, precise and thought-provoking actor.
TP: The narrative structure of ‘Jump’ is quite ambitious in terms of how many characters and storylines need to be juggled. From reading the script to filming to then finally seeing it all on screen, how satisfied are you with the finished product?
NB: I am extremely pleased and proud with ‘Jump’. Whilst juggling stories and characters, it balances everything wonderfully and allows the audience to follow everyone’s stories in such a way that makes the audience feel moved in many ways.
TP: 10 years ago, Northern Ireland probably couldn’t (or wouldn’t) have been able to make a film like ‘Jump’. As a young actor coming up in the industry, what is your impression of filmmaking in Northern Ireland and of the talent on offer there?
NB: From the actors that I have worked with in Northern Ireland, the talent appears endless. Often growing up in oppression makes you want to fight and strive more to better yourself and things around you. This combined with a great honesty and naturalness makes for the perfect actor/actress.
TP: Leading on from that, another film you have in the pipeline is ‘Twenty8k’ which, like ‘Jump’, has started doing the festival circuit before a potential nationwide cinema release. What can you tell us about that film and your role?
NB: ‘Twenty8k’ has 50+ speaking characters and a very complex story. My character is a bit of a ‘rude girl’ with an ‘I don’t care’ attitude. She initially is with a very messed-up guy who is involved in some heavy situations, she then gets with a character not that much better, however holds slightly better morals. She lets on to a massive secret that could potentially save or disgrace a lot of people.
TP: Finally, what is next for you in your career?
NB: I have ‘Twenty8k’ coming out shortly and have recently completed a film calked ‘Svengali’.
TP: Good luck with it. Thank you for taking the time to speak with us, Nichola.