By Sandi RankaduwaAlthough fresh on the release of his latest album Wild Lines and some Inbreds reunion shows, East Coast singer-songwriter Mike O'Neill already has another project on the way, and this time it's in the realm of film.
O'Neill isn't new to the television and film world, having had his music licensed for multiple productions, as well as finding steady work as both a sound recordist and music composer (and winning a Gemini in 2009 for his composition work on French Food at Home, in the process). He's also had a few acting gigs, including one on Canadian comedy series Trailer Park Boys, for which he also did sound. This time, however, he's getting into a whole new role.
O'Neill has teamed up with Trailer Park Boys writer and director Mike Clattenburg to co-write the script for an upcoming film, tentatively titled The Guys Who Move Furniture.
"It's a story about a world that people aren't really curious about," O'Neill tells Exclaim! "A story about people who are kind of invisible, but once you get inside of that world, I think it's very compelling."
MADtv's Will Sasso and fellow actor-comedian Charlie Murphy star in the film, whose story gets going when a move goes awry.
"To get to hear a script that I helped write delivered by these actors, and people laughing at the stuff that's intended to be funny... It's just been such a crazy, interesting experience," O'Neill says.
The opportunity came as a surprise to him. "I didn't see it coming. It wasn't something that I even secretly wished for," he admits. It was actually Clattenburg -- an accomplished drummer whose skills are featured on O'Neill's Wild Lines -- who insisted that this happen.
"I think the partnership that we explored with playing music together and just being friends gave him enough experience with me that he thought we'd make a good scriptwriting team.
"It took me a while, the first week or so, to feel like I could make real contributions. At first, I was kind of like the secretary. I had a tape recorder, and we'd have these conversations, and then I'd go home and write everything we said. Then after a while, he was just so encouraging and it just started to come naturally. Before I knew it, I was coming up with all sorts of ideas."
The film was written from the end of September 2010 until March 2011, which is a relatively short period of time to turn a script around. O'Neill is also working on writing two other scripts: one by himself and another with Clattenburg. He says it's too early to call him a scriptwriter, but he admits he has a knack for certain parts of it.
"It's related to my work as a sound recordist because as a sound recordist, you're recording people speaking. And I've done lots of documentary work, so I think I've developed an ear for dialogue, what's real and what isn't... I think I'm capable of writing very realistic dialogue and I'm a good observer of people."
Although this is a new avenue for the talented musician, he actually found it beneficial to draw from his musical approaches.
"I was thinking about it the same way I think about songs: as little problems that need to be solved. This is probably a bad habit, but I found myself working on these problems all the time, whether I was with people or alone, or waking up and having ideas. Listening to people talk and thinking, 'Is that good for the film? Or is it not, and why isn't it? What would be good?' and that's exactly the same approach I use with songwriting except I was writing just words."
The final edits are underway for The Guys Who Move Furniture, and the film is expected to come out in the fall, though there's no official release date yet.
To read more of Exclaim!'s recent interview with Mike O'Neill, head here. Also check out O'Neill's stop at Exclaim! TV below.