Shooglenifty originated in the 1990s and slowly built a loyal fan base within the Celtic fusion scene. They’ve now released nine albums and have played all over the world. In 2016, their frontman Angus tragically passed away at the age of 49.
Directed by acclaimed filmmaker Don Coutts, the documentary titled Heading West: A Story About a Band Called Shooglenifty charts their highs and lows with heart and humour and has a genuine intimacy that could only be captured by a long-time peer of the group.
As part of last year’s Edinburgh International Film Festival, fans, friends, and family filed into Edinburgh’s iconic Filmhouse for the film’s world premiere. The atmosphere was electric as everyone waited with bated breath to see the band’s journey on the big screen. The next day, I was fortunate enough to sit down with founding member and guitarist Malcolm Crosbie to chat about the film and his experience in the band…
Since making his feature debut Benny & Jolene in 2014, Welsh writer and director Jamie Adams has racked up a whopping nine films! His process is very fluid and improvisational, crafting films on a low budget over a very short period of time and with no script in the traditional sense. His latest effort is romantic drama She is Love, which features a trio of terrific performances from Haley Bennett, Sam Riley, and Marisa Abela. I was fortunate enough to sit down with the prolific filmmaker to chat about the film…
It feels like a very long time since our last conversation, back when you had just made your festive film A Wonderful Christmas Time in 2014. How have you, your process, and your films changed in that time?
I’ve got older, more cynical, and more tired, so the process has changed. The truth of it is that every project is different. There’s different people involved; there’s different cast, crew, and their personalities, and you’re balancing all of that. You’re balancing the budget, the schedule, the scope of the vision. You’re balancing the story you want to tell versus what you’re able to tell.
You get more comfortable with the process like a sports person when they get into a routine of some kind; this is what I do when I’m preparing, this is what I do when I’m in the game, this is what I do afterwards. I can look back at something like A Wonderful Christmas Time for example, which is the second feature that we did in this way, and I could see myself mumbling on set as you’re not as confident about what you’re doing because you’re still finding it. You’re always still finding it, but at least you have more of a clue of how you’ll get to what it is you’re looking for.
Best known for playing beloved vet Paddy in the long-running soap Emmerdale, actor Dominic Brunt pursues his other passion off-screen. Away from the Dales, he directs horror films, and his latest feature is werewolf comedy slasher Wolf Manor. Set in the English countryside and written by Pete Wild and Joel Ferrari, it presents a fun take on the sub-genre as the film shoot for a vampire flick is disrupted in the night by a deadly lycanthrope. I was fortunate enough to sit down with the director to discuss the film.
Wolf Manor is now your fifth feature within the last decade or so. Does the process get any easier or are there different challenges to each one?
It’s still very difficult, actually, I think because no film is exactly the same and no scene is the same. I think I’m getting better in the way of not panicking, and Marc Price (director of zombie film Colin on a budget of £45) is a fellow director and is brilliant at sorting out problems. He always says, ‘just press record’, you know, get it done. If the problems are there, they can be sorted out later so in the face of adversity, he’s the best one to be around. I think I’ve learned that preparing and preparing and preparing, getting a shot list, and making sure you know the locations back to front, and talking to the actors beforehand, saying, ‘Look, trust me, when you stand there, and you move where I tell you to when I say to move, I’ll make it look good. I promise you won’t look stupid’. The last thing actors want to hear is anybody flapping but it’s always scary. It’s a million-piece jigsaw putting together a film. So yeah, the short answer I think is in some ways, I don’t think anybody gets any better at filmmaking.
Scottish drama Aftersun by writer and director Charlotte Wells has been knocking audiences for six on the film festival circuit. The plot follows dad Calum, played by Normal People star Paul Mescal, and his daughter Sophie on an all-inclusive week in the sun. Beautifully told through the memories of an older Sophie as she reflects on the holiday years later, the film explores how our perception of our parents can change over time. I was fortunate enough to sit down with 12-year-old Frankie Corio who plays the young Sophie in the film. Already shortlisted for various awards, this is just the beginning for this rising star!
There are elements of Aftersun that are incredibly dark and melancholic but, at the same time, it’s all shot in the summer sun. Did you have fun on the shoot and what was your favourite part of the experience?
All of it! Filming was really fun and most of the stuff I was doing didn’t really feel like work. It was great and it was so hot, so I loved all of it but mainly the nice hot weather!
After an acting career that has spanned almost thirty years, Neil Maskell is finally pursuing his long-time passion to write and direct. His debut feature is black comedy thriller Klokkenluider and centres around a government whistleblower and his wife. Ready to tell their story to the press, they are joined by a pair of eccentric bodyguards to protect from any potential threat. I was fortunate enough to chat with the filmmaker ahead of the film’s premiere at the London Film Festival…
You’ve got a wealth of experience in acting, but this is your first time behind the camera. Have you had the desire to direct for a while, or was there something in particular about this film that meant you needed to give it a go?
Definitely the former. I’ve been really quite desperate to be directing something for a long, long time. I’ve been writing for the last 15 years, trying to get either a TV project or film made. Klokkenluider was actually something I didn’t think would really come to fruition. It’s so fucking weird, you know!? The allusion I keep drawing on is that it was like the car in the garage with an old fella sort of tinkering with it, you know, you never get that thing started again! I really enjoyed working on Klokkenluider so even when I was on another project as an actor or a writer, I was always going back to it because I enjoyed being with the characters. I’d get ideas for it when I was in the supermarket after having not written for weeks and I felt I was always slowly getting somewhere with it. It’s kind of amazing that it ended up being the first thing I’ve directed because it wasn’t what I expected it to be, but I’m really glad that it did end up being that because I’m very proud of the script and felt very close to it as a piece.
I have been fascinated by the work of actor Cosmo Jarvis for the past few years, and always take a keen interest in what he’s working on and who he’s working with. His latest performance is in Irish drama It is in Us All where he plays Hamish, a Londoner who takes a trip to Donegal to visit a house left to him by his late aunt. On his way, he’s involved in a brutal car crash, which forces him to confront his past and leads to an unorthodox new friendship. I was very fortunate to sit down with writer and director Antonia Campbell-Hughes to chat about the film…
In the Q&A after last night’s screening, I found it very interesting that you described the film as sci-fi, as it does have an otherworldly quality to it. I saw it as a Western in the way in which Hamish arrives in a strange town at the beginning, and how people sort of know who he is but there’s still that air of mystery to his presence. I know you might not want your film to be defined by its genre, but can you speak a little on how you approached that…
I love what you just said about it feeling like a Western, because in the beginning, all the people he encounters are like the townsfolk. People asked whether or not I changed it for pandemic, but it was always written that way. There are these very individual encounters where people almost deliver a message, and I used to reference Deliverance in that sense because everyone he meets is slightly off. I think there is a world between the Western and science fiction elements. It’s not either, but it is ‘the weird and the eerie’, and those were films that I find curious and interesting.
Writer and director Nathalie Biancheri released her debut Nocturnal in 2019, which caught my attention and marked her as one of the directors I’d love to talk to about their craft. Her second effort Wolf explores the dark and unusual subject of species dysphoria, as the protagonist, played by George Mackay, believes he is a wolf stuck inside a boy’s body. I was fortunate enough to chat to the filmmaker about this piece…
As Wolf is your second feature film, was there anything in particular that you’d brought forward into it from the learning experience that came with directing your debut?
Wolf was such a crazy, demanding, and very insane film from a performance and directing actors’ point of view, so I think it was really reassuring was to have made a first film before going into it. I think what was what was amazing was to have had that first feature even though it was very small. Knowing that it was possible somehow, and not having this unknown of making a feature film and the absolute fear that comes with that was great.
On the big screen, actor Craig Fairbrass is perhaps best known for his integral part within the Rise of the Footsoldier franchise. In recent years though, he has tackled even more brutal, complex portrayals that transcend his hard man persona. I was lucky enough to chat with him about his latest film A Violent Man, a prison drama written and directed by Ross McCall…
In A Violent Man, there are long sequences where the director Ross McCall ramps up tension without any dialogue. As an actor, how do you go about contributing to the tone and atmosphere with a very minimalist script?
Well, you obviously have an overall perception of the story. I’m quite intuitive when it comes to things like that. I knew what the mood of the scenes were, I knew what we were trying to portray, and how to move the story forward but to still make it interesting. With a look, you can say 1000 lines, so it was that type of thing. I think the energy of the opening sets up Steve Mackelson as the type of man he is. He’s not a man of a lot of words. As the film moves on and things are irritating him, he has to get his point across.
Filmmaker Philip Barantini combined his experience working in busy kitchens with his time as an actor to craft his latest feature Boiling Point. It’s all shot in one continuous take and centres around a head chef played by Stephen Graham during a hectic evening at a high-end London restaurant. I was fortunate enough to chat with the director about the process of making this ambitious film…
I’m sure this is what everyone is asking about but as if getting a film made wasn’t hard enough in the current climate, you decide to do it in one take. Where did the decision behind this come from and are there any other one-take films that influenced this style choice?
Well, we did a short in the back end of 2018, and we did that all in one take. That was just 20 minutes. I’ve seen Victoria, Russian Ark, and movies like that so I knew it could be done. For me, the reason we did it in one take I think is because I wanted to throw the audience into that perspective of being in a busy restaurant, over that period of time and almost like making the audience the voyeur, and it added that extra layer of tension. I wanted the audience to maybe forget halfway through that it was a one take and be like ‘Oh my god!’ when they realise. Someone said to me the other day, which is the best comment I could ever get, that they hadn’t realised it was one take and that they’d need to watch it again!
Set on an evolving Martian frontier in an unknown future, sci-fi drama Settlers centres around a family’s battle for survival. As parents Reza (Jonny Lee Miller) and Ilsa (Sofia Boutella) try to build a life for their daughter Remmy (Brooklynn Prince), their home is threatened by mysterious stranger Jerry (Ismael Cruz Cordova) who is looking for answers. I took the opportunity to sit down with the writer and director Wyatt Rockefeller to chat about his striking debut…
You’ve had quite the journey to finally making your first feature, after lots of shorts, commercials, and docs and a break for politics too. What was it about Settlers that made you take the plunge?
Well, when I first had the idea for Settlers, I was actually working on another feature to come off the heels of one of my shorts. I had the spark of an idea and then it all came really quickly. It hit me at a gut level which is a good sign! I mentioned it to a few producers including my wife who’s actually one of the producers on this, and the story really told itself. Within 15 minutes, I had the plot in my head right up until Jerry puts the gun on the table.