The NI fans recreating classic Disney ... on a shoestring

GRAEME COUSINS meets a Belfast pair who are gaining followers by remaking their favourite Disney moments in locations around the city

Wednesday, 25th July 2018, 9:30 am
Beauty and the Beast in City Hall

It all started with a juicy red apple for two Disney fans who are bringing the Magic Kingdom to life with a series of photoshoots throughout Belfast.

Friends Gilli McCready and Colin Devenny began their joint homage to Disney movies around a year and a half ago when they were working together at an advertising agency in Belfast.

Their hobby – which they call DIY Disney NI – consists of them recreating classic Disney scenes, capturing them on camera and sharing the images on social media.

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A tribute to Tinkerbell and Captain Hook

Gilli said: “It started one day when the office had a fruit delivery and there was this juicy red apple and we said, ‘that just looks like the apple from Snow White’.

“Colin is very crafty and he made this red bow and put it on his head to be Snow White, and I pulled this hoodie on to look like the Evil Queen dressed as an old hag.”

Colin said: “One of our colleagues was an even bigger Disney fan than us and she showed us a picture of the scene. We took a photo and matched it up with the original scene and put it on the internet.”

Gilli added: “Our friends and family loved it and encouraged us to do more.”

Colin and Gilli as Lady and the Tramp

Their next shoot was the iconic Lady and the Tramp scene were the two dogs shared a strand of spaghetti.

Colin said: “We used a little bit more costume and props – we put on dogs ears, I had brought in a plate of pasta, some breadsticks. We’d gone to a little more effort to look as much like the original scene.

“The scale and scope has developed over the 18 months we’ve been doing this. Both the Snow White and the Lady and the Tramp pictures were in our work premises. After that we moved out into the city centre.”

Asked why Disney has endured for so long, Gilli said: “Older people like it because they can remember the classic Disney, kids love it because they are discovering it for the first time. Then you’ve got live action movies like Beauty and the Beast and Jungle Book that add a new dimension and appeal to both old and young.”

The Little Mermaid gets the DIY Disney treatment

Colin said: “We’re both Disney fans. We wouldn’t go so far as getting Disney tattoos, but we’ve watched all the movies growing up and again with nephews and nieces. The music is wonderful, the animation is great. They’re so iconic.”

In terms of their photographic tributes to Disney, Colin said: “When we look at doing a scene we have to think how can we do the costumes, how can we approximate this best, what location can we shoot it in.

“When I looked at the Beauty and the Beast ballroom image I thought of City Hall. That was one of my favourite shoots.

“Sometimes you have to think outside the box – we ask friends, family, people we know to borrow bits and pieces for costumes or props.

Colin and Gilli in the News Letter's Belfast office

“Most of our pictures are posted five minutes after they’re taken. There’s no ceremony to it.

“One of the trickiest shoots we did was for Tinkerbell and Captain Hook (pictured above). With that one, we put the lantern on top of a bin, I was posing beside it and Gilli was then about 30 or 40 foot back and we were directing her to the right place until she was in the lantern. That was a fun day at Writer’s Square.”

Gilli, a writer and a journalist from Belfast, said: “Sometimes if you’re out doing a shoot during the day and people see you they’ll assume you’re doing the pantomime.”

Colin, a parkour athlete who is originally from Donegal, said: “It’s just fun and something that people can get involved with. It’s just something that’s visually interesting. Disney fans from all over the world can tap into it.

“I enjoy the challenge and craft of having to piece something together. I would do it anyway and just send the image to my friends even if there wasn’t a global fanbase.”

Gilli said: “We don’t take ourselves too seriously. We’re not like cosplay where people invest a lot of money in extremely authentic costumes and get into character.”

Colin added: “I love and respect the cosplay community, but that’s not what we do.

“Even if we had the money to do it I would prefer to make my own Beast costume – picking up a three-quarter length coat from a second hand shop, cutting it up and making a tailcoat, sticking on yellow card to make the trim and yellow buttons. If you were to scrutinise it in person it looks like a pile of rubbish, but when you photograph it, it just gives you enough.”

Gilli said: “I like the idea that it might encourage kids and their parents to create their own costumes rather than buy them. Our aim is to keep it fun and keep growing our fanbase. We’re up for trying anything. If someone wants to send us to Tanzania to shoot a scene from the Lion King we’d be up for that.”

• To see more Disney tributes from Gilli and Colin search for diydisneyni on Instagram and Facebook

On location

Gilli and Colin’s photoshoots have taken them around some iconic locations in Belfast.

Gilli said: “What we’ve found is there’s load of brilliant backdrops all around Belfast.

“We’ve been in all sorts of places – under a footbridge for The Rescuers, inside City Hall for Beauty and the Beast, at Albert Clock for Cinderella, near the water at the Harbour Commissioner’s Office for the Little Mermaid.”