WITH cameo appearances by the two main stars of The Young Offenders, Alex Murphy and Chris Walley, a new crime mystery series made at the Kabin Studio in Knocknaheeny is a real Cork lark.
Entitled The Curious Case of the Missing Shandon Bell, it was created by Brendan Canty (who made the video for Hozier’s hit, Take Me To Church) and Ayla Amano.
Brendan and Ayla loved working at the Kabin, Cork’s northside youth music recording studio and workshop space. Brendan says: “The kids in the Kabin are the most creative and charming people we’ve ever come across. Giving them the space to improvise and allowing them to generate characters and story was so much fun to facilitate and had us in absolute stitches.”
The mystery series, comprising three short episodes, is going out on the Kabin Studio’s Instagram, Twitter and Facebook pages. It has a noir feel to it and could be described as a parody of the genre.
The storyline involves Shandon’s bell which has gone missing. A detective is on the case. In the meantime, the Lord Mayor’s daughter wants to marry the detective but he will have to prove himself worthy of the daughter of the local dignitary.
In January, Brendan and Ayla oversaw some improvisation workshops with teenagers involved in the Kabin Studio. Garry McCarthy facilitated further workshops. He is the co-ordinator at the Kabin Studio which is supported by Music Generation Cork, Cork City Council and GMCBeats (which is Garry’s brand name.)
He says that the Kabin Studio is thriving.
“It’s basically a space for young people to write and record their own music. They do hip hop and rap. We also do podcasts and coding.
“There are various music projects and youth groups that link in with Kabin Studios such as Foroige in Knocknaheeny and youth workers in Gurranabraher.”
Garry says that it’s only in the last year or two that young people at the Kabin Studio have become interested in acting.
“I’ve found that many of the kids that are really strong and confident on the stage as rappers are really good actors as well. Rapping and acting involve a lot of the same skills such as voice projection and the use of tone and emotion. Also, in both scenarios, you’re playing a role. A couple of the teenagers that were involved in our workshops got small parts in The Young Offenders.
“One of the young adults involved in the Kabin, Daniel Power, played the lead role in a short film called Christy directed by Brendan. Up to then, he had no acting experience. He was just making songs and being on stage. After doing the short film, he got roles in two episodes of The Young Offenders.”
Christy was shown at a number of festivals and premiered at the Cork International Film Festival in 2019. It created “a bit of a buzz”, with Brendan making a music video of two of the tuxedo-clad kids in the film who did a pop-up performance outside the Everyman. The video went viral.
Between that and The Young Offenders, filmed in Cork, it seems there is exciting work coming out of the north side.
“Before, being in films and TV shows would have been a million miles away for young northsiders. Now, it’s a little bit more possible and a bit more real which is great.
"It’s why we had a decent turnout for the workshops that we did on Zoom for The Curious Case of the Missing Shandon Bell,” said Garry.
The process of making the series initially involved Brendan and Ayla suggesting an idea for the story. “None of it was scripted. It was down to the kids (aged between ten and 15) to come up with things on the spot. Because of Covid, some of it was recorded in the cast’s kitchens. You’d see their mams in the background cooking the dinner. It was kind of funny in that sense.”
Filters are used so that the detective appears as a gun-slinging cowboy, adding to the comedic element of the show.
Garry, best known for his song Not Tonight (The Bouncer Song)’ is the narrator for the series. He enjoyed working on it and is looking forward to future projects at the Kabin Studio.
“We have an older group of teenagers and young adults who have been working on a playwriting piece. It was supposed to be premiered at last year’s Cork Midsummer Festival (CMF) but because of Covid, that didn’t happen. It has been changed to a video and will be shown at this year’s CMF. It’s a mix of rap, songs, spoken word and some scripted scenes. It’s really like a showcase of the work that the older teenagers at the Kabin are involved in.”
Rap is popular with these young people.
“It’s accessible and there’s a lot of freedom in what you can say in rap. Most of the time, the rapping relates to the teenagers’ own personal struggle. It has given a voice to the young people who work at it,” said Garry.
And clearly, the Kabin Studio is a hive of creative self-expression.