NZ Icon Peter Feeney is bringing his family to his latest project
After decades as an actor and teacher, Peter Feeney is taking the helm of his own show.
Blind Bitter Happiness, based on his novel of the same name, is a dark family dramedy about the Fahey family as they deal with the loss of their grandfather. The first episode was filmed in January, and the next two wrapped filming in August. As they move into post-production, the series is taking shape – and it’s a very impressive shape.
The show brings together heavy hitters of NZ acting like Lisa Harrow and Reb Fountain (as well as Feeney himself), and adds many new faces to the mix. The cast includes Feeney’s own children – Tilly, Frankie, and Arlo.
These actors tackled difficult roles with a level of skill far beyond their years “I liked playing emotional scenes because it gave me an opportunity to get some practice crying on demand”, said Frankie. Arlo agreed that this show brings real emotional depth: “BBH is a unique show for New Zealand, showing the raw, unfiltered experiences of growing up in a Kiwi household.”
Despite being the youngest Feeney, Tilly too brought something special to the show. So much so that she won the award for Best Supporting Actress at SeriesFest this year. When she was told she’d won, she couldn’t quite believe it. “For a second,” she said, “I really thought it might be some sort of not-intended sick joke. But very soon I was freaking out!”
The experience of working with their Dad was something the kids will treasure. Despite her dad being “annoying at times”, Frankie appreciated that “I could always ask him for advice/help with my script.” Tilly agrees: “When he’s directing he can sometimes be a little bossy and I barely ever see him. But when I do it makes my day!”
Many UoA students know Peter as their acting teacher: he runs the Actor’s Lab school where many of NZ’s up-and-coming performers have studied. Aspiring actors will be excited to hear that there are several featured extras roles up for grabs in future episodes of the show. You can get your chance to join the show by donating to their Kickstarter campaign to fund post-production.
The campaign also offers a heap of other rewards, including T-Shirts, original postcards, tickets to the show’s premiere, and a spot in some of Peter’s Zoom masterclasses, which UoA’s acting aficionados will find fascinating.
His advice for those who want to direct and act in the same show? “Don’t do it!”
If you want the chance to appear on the show, check out the Kickstarter campaign here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/bbh/blind-bitter-happiness.