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Starring role for Toby

10 January 2018

A RATHFRILAND boy is lapping up a lot of praise and attention, after clinching the starring role in a promotional video that will be seen by over 8,000 pupils - in Donegal!

Toby Ferguson plays the role of a star footballer in the video, which aims to promote the Finn Harps Schools Programme and has as its inspiring title ‘Dreams Do Come True’. 

The short film is certainly inspirational, as the nine-year-old boy gets to emulate his fictional football hero on the pitch – to an ecstatic reception from the cheering stadium crowd and his adoring ‘on-screen mum’ who is his number one cheerleader.

And with the programme being sponsored by Mountcharles car dealer, Kelly’s Toyota, Toby also gets to ‘drive’ a very sporty-looking Toyota GT86 with all the latest gadgetry! 

We won’t spoil the lovely ending, though – just watch the video and you won’t be disappointed. 

Toby’s doting mum, Laura McKillion explained how the keen actor’s involvement in the video had come about: “We saw the role advertised through a casting agency. 

“I applied for it for him as he has being doing a few short films recently, and has really enjoyed them. I sent a few headshot photos through, his CV and a video audition.”

Having been picked for the role – possibly on the strength of his impressive credentials as a stage actor – his proud dad, Brian Ferguson took him to the shoot. There were actually three different locations for the elaborate video – Kilmacrennan National School, Finn Harps football ground and a private house. 

“He enjoyed filming the ad so much,” Laura revealed. “He loves acting, singing and dancing, so being on a film set was amazing for him. 

“Now that he has been on a few film sets, he understands what goes into making a film or ad. Also he couldn’t believe how many times a shot needed to be taken. Toby was the main part in the ad, so he was nearly in every shot. It took around seven hours to film. 

“He doesn’t like football which is the funny thing! We didn’t know until we got there that the ad was about football. He had to bring a pair of football boots but we didn’t realise he would actually be playing football. He got on really well with Shane McNaughton who plays the footballer, and also with his ‘fake mom’, Catie Bee – they had some laugh and banter in between shots! The crew all said he was brilliant and a wee star.”

Having returned to Iveagh PS after the Christmas break, Toby realised he had become a bit of an overnight celebrity, as his mum explained: “He said that most of the class have seen the advert and they think it’s brilliant. 

“Also children in other classes have been coming up to him, saying that they have seen the ad and well done. Everyone is really proud of him. His nanny, Anne McKillion, was sharing it over Facebook, his dad Brian and step mum Ann Gilliand keep track on how many views the ad has had.”

For Toby to have prevailed during the audition over so many young hopefuls, is probably due in large part to his already impressive experience as a stage actor, and Laura wished to pay a glowing tribute to Banbridge inclusive theatre group, A2E, and drama teachers Stewart Penn and Jonny Conaghan. 

“His love for acting started when he was six,” she explained. “He joined E2A and that’s where it all started. He has been in six shows with E2A. They are an amazing group which includes children and adults with or without special needs. They are all like an extended family to him.

“There have been times when things have been hard for him, and anyone would have quit to try and fit in, but Toby held the head high and continued on with the singing, dancing and acting. He eats and sleeps drama. He even sings in his sleep!”

Stewart explained that Toby was very much a rising star among the young people he had directed: “Last year, Toby took the lead role in our production of Charlie & The Chocolate Factory.  

“As with all the members of E2A, we teach stage craft and the art of developing characters, and we are delighted that Toby was selected to be in the Finn Harps information video.”

The ‘Dreams Do Come True’ video has been circulated all over Facebook, and the feedback has been amazing. 

There were some really humorous exchanges as well. Toby’s on-screen mum, Catie Bee, posted: “I had a great time being fake mom. Toby is a wee dote and he is and looks great on camera.” Laura jokingly replied: “Do you want shared custody?”

To watch the video, search for ‘Kelly’s Toyota’ or ‘Finn Harps School Programme’.

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