Introducing J.J. Rolfe

J.J. Rolfe, photo by Eoin McLoughlin.

J.J. Rolfe, photo by Eoin McLoughlin.

Our June 30th Irish Popcorn! screening features Hill Street, an excellent recent documentary that chronicles more than two decades of skate boarding in Ireland. We are so pleased that the film's director J.J. Rolfe is going to join us in person for a Q&A.

In today's blog post we'd like to give you a little background on Rolfe and the film.


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Hill Street is J.J. Rolfe’s first foray into directing, but he’s certainly not new to the filmmaking game. This talented young cinematographer studied at The National Film School in Dun Laoighre and he’s worked on short dramas, tv comedy, music videos, ads, and documentaries. We highly recommend that you visit his website to watch some of his short films.

Hill Street documents the culture of stake boarding in Ireland from the 1980s to the present. Before the film J.J. was not really a skateboarder. He’s no stranger to boards or adventurous sports though, enjoying surfing and snowboarding. Recently he’s gotten more involved in skateboarding with the purchase of a cruiser board.

Clive Rowen, the "godfather of skateboarding in Ireland"

Clive Rowen, the "godfather of skateboarding in Ireland"

Rolfe originally planned just to shoot Hill Street, but his conversations with producer Dave Leahy gave him the passion and the confidence to direct the film. He told entertainment.ie: “The idea of telling the story of how something that can be regarded as very much counter culture and watching it grow to become mainstream was something I wanted to look at. I also wanted to make a film that would appeal to skaters while also being entertaining to a wider audience.”

 

Hill Street took about five years to make. It began as a self-financed project by Director Rolfe and producer Dave Leahy. They even created a short version of the film in 2012. It did well at the Jameson Dublin Film Festival and the Irish Film Board became involved with some modest financial support to expand the project. Rolfe and Leahy were lucky enough to get an interview with American skate boarding star Tony Hawk. J.J. told thisgreedypig.com “I remember driving down to his offices about four hours south of Los Angeles, still not really believing that it was going to happen. The relief when we pulled away in the car, with the footage secured was an amazing feeling.”

Tony Hawk being interviewed for Hill Street.

Tony Hawk being interviewed for Hill Street.

Here at Solas Nua we’re particularly excited about the Hill Street sound track. It really adds  majesty, drama, and absolute coolness to the fabulous visuals of the film. Rolfe himself describes it as one of “the triumphs of the film.” He was able to feature the work of his college buddy Gareth Averill. Rolfe says: “its great when you get to include a friend on a project like this. There is already a shorthand of communication there, and going into the studio with Gareth is always loads of fun. I spent time playing on his synths while he did all the work. The intro track is a collaboration between me & him…”

J.J. Rolfe. Photo by Dave Sexton.

J.J. Rolfe. Photo by Dave Sexton.

We hope you can make it to our screening of Hill Street, June 30th, 7pm at Busboys and Poets. It’s a great opportunity to discover a side of Ireland that is rarely heard about outside the country. It’s also a chance to find out more about a really exciting sport that originated here in the U.S. We’re delighted that J.J. will be on hand to discuss his work with us.