Former child star Dexter Fletcher discusses jukebox musical Sunshine on Leith, his sophomore offering as director.
Former child star Dexter Fletcher discusses jukebox musical Sunshine on Leith, his sophomore offering as director. Dexter Fletcher has paid his dues in front of the camera since age 10. After graduating to grown-up roles in Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels and Band of Brothers, his directorial debut came in 2011 with Cockney crime drama Wild Bill. His sophomore offering is Sunshine on Leith, a jukebox musical love story based on the songs of Scotland’s favourite sons The Proclaimers. The film follows soldiers Davy and Ally as they return home to Edinburgh and attempt to assimilate back into everyday life (aided by the power of song). Fletcher, born-and-bred a London ragamuffin, reveals the challenges of making a film about Scotland that’s more than just kiltsploitation. “What I tried not to do in the film is labour it with tartan and haggis and kilts and that sort of stuff,” he shares. “I tried to tell a story about people and they just happened to be Scottish. I think hopefully that’s what translates in the film in terms of it can travel to Australia and people still go, ‘I recognise these people and their dilemma and what’s going on’.” Despite its obvious potential to induce some serious seat-squirming, Sunshine on Leith is poignant, relatable and fun. Strong performances are delivered across the cast, which includes UK greats Jane Horrocks and Peter Mullan, and a number of relative newcomers. On working with the younger cast, Fletcher beams – “that was great fun!” He continues, “Young casts for me are always really exciting because I started when I was very young and it was always a bit of a tricky time for me. “The thing with working with child actors is I understand, having been through that myself personally. There’s a window where instinct is everything and it’s all fun and it’s all play and you don’t know how good you are and you just go and do what you’re asked. Things can tend to change after that because suddenly everyone goes, ‘Oh, you’re great! You’re a really good actor!’ As a child, you don’t know what that means, and acting is actually very difficult,” he laughs. “But I enjoy immensely working with child actors… I find it very satisfying. I would like to do a film one day with lots of kids in it.” Though he still finds acting ‘fun’ himself, Fletcher has a strong focus on directing now and is currently “looking at a few different projects”. On selecting his next project he says, “It’s about finding a great script and great people to work with and I’m not in any rush to just jump straight into the next film. I want to find exactly the right thing.” This patience served him well in selecting the Sunshine on Leith script, a starkly different offering to his feature debut. His considered, informed approach to directing suggests a versatile filmography still to come from someone who could already be considered a veteran of the industry. Sunshine on Leith is in cinemas now