Minnie Driver is Hunky Dory in Swansea

Hollywood actress Mini Driver, whose father orginally hails from Swansea, is in the city working on a new film, Hunky Dory.

The film  is set in Swansea in the summer of 1976 – the hottest summer the UK has ever seen. It is half-way between a musical and a drama and centres around the trials and tribulations of an idealistic drama teacher as she tries to put on the end of year show; a rock and roll, space age version of Shakespeare’s Tempest using the kids’ favourite pop songs to tell the story. A kind of grand “rock opera” in the tradition of “Tommy” and “Jesus Christ Superstar” which were all the rage at the time.

The film follows her single-handed attempt to put the show on and knock these teenagers into shape, a hard enough task made harder by the relentless sunshine and enticing beaches of Swansea.

What the film tries to capture is that musical magic created when kids come together and perform with their hearts and souls. The story is essentially a simple one about a school show, and the plot centres around a burnt down school hall, an ill judged affair and the everyday trials and tribulations of teenage life. “Hunky Dory” is an ensemble piece that through its various characters celebrates the fragility and exuberance of youth. More than anything it aims at authenticity. 

Minne Drive told the London Evening Standard: “If it works, it’s going to be so stunning, and so heartbreaking.

“All these little kids putting their fingers on jam jars, making whoo-whoo sounds for the Velvet Underground, it’s absolutely magic.”

Minnie, said her musical background, which has seen her release two solo albums, makes her ideal casting for the role.

The Gavin and Stacey fan added she believed she had a convincing Welsh accent.

“I have the most brilliant dialect coach who does all the Billy Elliots around the world,” she said.

Earlier this week, scores of residents gathered to watch filming in Port Talbot, where Minnie, who was Oscar nominated for her role in 1997 film Good Will Hunting, was believed to be on site working on the film at Little Warren, near Aberavon Green Stars RFC. 

Yesterday, the set at Bishop Gore School in Sketty, which is been surrounded by tight security, featured young extras in 1970s-style school uniforms, many recruited from local Class Act Theatre School.

The filming at Bishop Gore School is the second big movie project at the site in less than a year.

Last November, crews set up at the school as they worked on their big screen adaptation of former Olchfa pupil Joe Dunthorne’s debut novel Submarine.

Filming crews are once again pitched up at the school grounds, as well as on St Helen’s recreation ground. Minnie’s connection with Swansea also extends to her father, Ronnie Driver, who was brought up in a terraced house in the city. He died last year, aged 87. 

MOST Hollywood stars filming a movie demand luxury five star accommodation and a small army of personal assistants to cater to their every need.  This is not so for Oscar-nominated Minnie Driver who is spending her nights away from the set in a camper van on the currently rain-lashed Oystermouth Road!

South Wales Evening Post – 20th August 2010

Find out more about Class Act Theatre School

Culture  Visiting Swansea Bay