HE LEFT Northern Ireland for the first time when he journeyed to the University of Portsmouth in 1987.
Now, years after realising his calling as a filmmaker, city fine art graduate Gavin Irvine is enjoying international acclaim with his comedy short 2:40 to London.
It comes after the storyteller, in his 40s, recently scooped the Best Short Film Award at the Brazil International Film Festival in Rio de Janeiro.
Mr Irvine had to compete against hundreds of filmmakers across the globe just to have the short feature at the festival.
So to go on and claim victory from those which made the cut, he said, was a ‘feeling like no other’.
‘When your name is called, wow – it is an extremely special moment,’ said Mr Irvine.
‘To even get your project there in the first place is not an easy thing to do.
‘So to win at a film festival as fantastic as Rio really is wonderful – it’s justification for making a film as silly as 2:40 to London.’
The offbeat 14-minute short follows a secret agent’s 2.40pm train journey to the capital, which sees him brainwashed into handing over the so-called ‘merchandise’.
And in the words of Mr Irvine, its comical capers are built on a cornerstone of ‘very little certainty’.
He said: ‘There are grumpy ladies involved, there are bearded ladies involved, and there’s even a carrot.
‘It’s fair to say the film asks many more questions than it answers.’
Made possible by the financial and promotional contribution of Portsmouth pal Richard Measey – who Mr Irvine said ‘worked tirelessly to make the project a success’ – 2:40 to London has garnered praise at a number of other international film festivals.
It won Best Short Film and Best Director in Portugal in 2017, won the Special Jury Award in Canada this year, and was nominated for honours in Prague and Portobello, in London.
While 2:40 to London is not currently released for the people of Portsmouth to watch – as it continues to tour – Mr Irvine, who lives in Camden, will soon return to the city himself.
He will lead a filmmaking masterclass at the University of Portsmouth later this year – and reunite with his old lecturer, Damian Toal.
Mr Irvine said: ‘I owe Damian a great debt of gratitude.’