Film in Limerick Present John Maclean Workshop

BAFTA Award winning film director and former member of the Beta Band John Maclean is to come to the mid west to speak to local filmmakers.

Acclaimed film director John Maclean will be delivering a workshop on directing a first feature film on Wednesday 12 February in Ennis and on Thursday 13 in Limerick.

The talks are part of the new Film Meet-Up events run by Film in Limerick and are an exciting opportunity for experienced and aspiring filmmakers in the region to hear from one of the most exciting directors working in independent filmmaking.

Maclean’s collaborations with Irish actors Michael Fassbender and Liam Cunningham have seen him win the BAFTA for best film for Pitch Black Heist and the top award at the Sundance Film Festival for his western Slow West.

Maclean will be at Glór in Ennis on Wednesday 12 February and in Limerick at ENGINE on Upper Cecil Street the following day, Thursday 13 February.

Maclean who was the keyboardist in seminal 90’s band The Beta Band turned his hand to film after the demise of his much-loved cult pop group.

Taking a break from preparations for his second feature film, Maclean will be visiting Ennis and Limerick to share his experiences and tips on making short films and how he made the jump to directing feature films.

A regular speaker at international film schools including the National Film & Television School in London, Maclean is looking forward to his visit to the Mid-West.

“I am delighted to be visiting Limerick and Clare to share my experiences and to meet local filmmakers. I’ll always been a big fan of Independent Irish filmmaking and the intense stories that the Irish are so good at telling. I’ve been reading about all the developments around film happening in the Limerick area too and I’m looking forward to experiencing the city and hopefully visiting some of its historic sites,” said John Maclean.

Regional Film Manger Paul C. Ryan said: “We are delighted to welcome the multitalented John Maclean to the Mid-West for what promises to be an entertaining evening and a revealing insight into his approach to film directing. John’s talk is the latest in the Film Meet-Up series, which has now expanded to include events in County Clare as well as in Limerick. The events aim to bring local experienced and aspiring filmmakers together to be inspired and to hatch their own plans for future film collaborations.”

Both talks start sharp at 6.30pm. Admission is free and you can reserve your spot by emailing


Dates for Your Diary: Upcoming Events of Interest


Review: Slow West


DIR/WRI: John Maclean  • PRO: Iain Canning, Rachel Gardner, Conor McCaughan, Emile Sherman  • ED: Roland Gallois, Jon Gregory • DOP: Robbie Ryan  • DES: Kim Sinclair • MUS: Jed Kurzel • Cast: Michael Fassbender, Ben Mendelsohn, Rory McCann

John McClean, formerly of The Beta Band, continues his foray into filmmaking with his debut feature, the Western Slow West, winner of the World Cinema Jury Prize: Dramatic Winner prize at Sundance earlier this year.

Slow West is definitely an unusual Western, a British New Zealand co-production with New Zealand standing in for Colorado. It takes more of a leaf from the anti-Westerns of the ’70s rather than its European ancestors, such as the Italian Spaghetti or the German Spätzle Westerns.

The pared-down plot has Jay (Kodi Smith Mc Phee), an infatuated milksop of aristocratic stock on a journey to find the woman he is infatuated with; Rose, a recent escapee from Scotland after the accidental killing of Jay’s uncle by her father. Rose and her father carry a bounty on their heads. Aware of this and helping Jay but really with his eye on the reward is the tough ruthless Silas Selleck (Michael Fassbender), who constantly chews on cigars trying to mine his inner Clint Eastwood. Following them with similar intentions to Silas are another bunch of outlaw bounty hunters of various types led by Ben Mendelsohn, one of the busier go to bad guys working in film today. All of this will of course lead to the inevitable showdown.

Sounding like Bono’s long lost cousin, Fassbender’s Silas provides the narrative with a voiceover. The device feels like a band aid rather than a truly creative element, and proves quite intrusive at times.

The film is beautiful to look at, aided by the assured cinematography of Irish DoP Robbie Ryan and one cannot fault any of the performances (though Smith did grate on me personally as a character).

McClean’s eccentric execution is at once interesting and alienating, its absurdities fight against the human story trying to breakout. The use of characters as types begins to leave one a little cold towards the end. As said earlier, it reminded me of those early ’70s Westerns (The Hired Hand, Bad Company to name just two) that were concerned with revisionism and truthfulness regarding the history of the West and were informed by what was going on in the world of American politics and foreign policy at that time.

Compared to some of those films Slow West feels like it’s playing at being a Western – its sly nihilistic humour and elements of parody constantly mark out its eccentricities but don’t help give weight to its characters so that we can truly invest in the plight and denouement that inevitably comes. The so-called quirkiness mentioned by a lot of people outweighs its heart.

That said, it’s always nice to see a Western on the big screen.

Paul Farren


15A (See IFCO for details)

83 minutes

Slow West is released 26th June 2015

Slow West – Official Website