Guy Myhill: “The lead has never acted before in his life. He was on the dole in Dereham and a casting woman stumbled on him.”

Guy Myhill talks about his début film The Goob, hometown Norfolk, comparisons to Harmony Korine and what’s in store for the future.

Could you talk to me a little bit about what The Goob is about?

It’s a little bit about stock car racing, a little bit about migrant workers that come to this part of the UK – a county called Norfolk – but I think really it’s about a young boy who realizes that his mum loves her boyfriend more than him. It’s a coming of age story and how he deals with that information.

Why did you choose “Goob”?  What is the significance of the name?

When I was a little kid I went to a school in Essex and my first day – I was about seven – I sat by this kid and within a minute he threw himself off the chair and he was writhing around on the floor and all the other class jumped on him. The teacher got hold of him and put a ruler down his throat. He was having an epileptic fit and his name was “Goob”. It just always stayed with me. I just thought it’s an odd name but a name you can remember so from that instant it was always in my head. When I needed to give him [the character] a nickname I just thought of Goob from my past.

There have been comparisons made between The Goob and the films of Harmony Korine (Gummo etc). Was he an influence for you when making the film?

Wow. I love his work but when I wrote it I wasn’t thinking of that, no. It’s quite flattering to be compared to but it wasn’t a direct influence – maybe subconsciously that’s drifted through.

Why Norfolk? Why did you use Norfolk as the basis for the film?

Well I lived there. I live in a city called Norwich and I made a documentary for Channel 4 on that stock-car track so I knew the potential. Then, a mate of mine works running an agency for migrant workers so I knew I could capitalize on his friendship and generosity and on our budget get things cheaper than otherwise. More importantly, I know what that part of England is – I’m there all the time – so I knew the potential of it. I think there’s nowhere quite like it in England. I think most films that are made there – Alan Partridge aside – are costume drama scenarios. I knew that I could give a fresh angle on it.

What was the casting process?

Liam the lead man has never acted before in his life…

Where did you find him?

He was on the dole in Dereham and a casting woman stumbled on him. When I saw the photo I said “Look it’s got to be him”. I just prayed he could act. We did a few workshops  and he was terrific. I’ve got a couple of builder mates that I’ve got in it. I think what was key to it was that I needed the Norfolk accent and Norfolk’s quite hard to pull off if you’re not from that region so it was important that all the cast were from that area – that knew the world. I get off on the risk element of putting someone like Liam in as the main role having to work alongside Shaun and Sienna who are more established pros. Putting someone from S Club 7Hannah Spearritt – just makes me laugh. I had the opportunity of bringing all that in which is a risk as it could backfire but everybody bought into it. Certainly the pros like Sienna, Shaun and Paul Popplewell. They could see that authenticity and how it might materialize and work.

Have you got any other projects/films in the pipeline?

I want to make a trilogy of Norfolk films. The Goob is the first one. The second one will not be about Goob but there will be a small cameo from him hopefully where we see him working the dodgems at a funfair so we know he’s okay.

Have you got a character in mind for the second film?

No. Not yet.

Maybe have a female lead this time? 

Yeah. Maybe.

The Goob is currently screening for the public at the London Film Festival on October 12th & 15th.

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