tweety stuff @ronanfromcork
first published in @The Evening Echo 2017-03-16
text under photo of article
Niall McCann a film maker from County Louth is releasing a film ‘Lost In France’ that encapsulates the musical side of the city of Glasgow, “growing up in Dundalk I got introduced to lots of music by the odler crowd I hung out with that I perhaps would not have come into contact with otherwise. Music was always a huge part of my life, I quickly became obsessed with bands like the Auteurs, Manic Street Preachers and Radiohead, but also the whole music scenes like Americana and post-rock”
While those those groups and styles were far reaching, one thread of his music loves all combined in one place, “it was the mid 90s, I was completely in love with music and in particular the music of Glasgow. Chemikal Underground was central to that, I couldn’t believe how many great records seemed to come from this small independent label. It was like the Factory records of Glasgow and it was happening RIGHT NOW!” The label founded by The Delagados were at that time they were releasing records from Mogwai, Arab Strap, Bis and still active to this day have released acts such as the Aerogramme, RM Hubbert, Adrian Crowley [who won the Choice Music Prize in 2009], Zooey Van Goey [which featured Cork musician Michael-John McCarthy]
It took Niall a while to connect his love of music to his work, “No one I grew up with seemed to end up doing creative things, dreams were very much that. I got a job as a civil servant working on the Census, which I enjoyed and worked with good people, but something just didn’t seem right to me though. When I was a teenager I was quite sick for quite some time and I remember promising myself that if I got out of it I would try to do something that would leave a mark, so one lunchtime at work I decided to apply to do a masters in film directing. To cut a long, boring story short I graduated, didn’t really know what to do but knew I had to try to make a film so I emailed Luke Haines (The Auteurs, Black Box Recorder) about making a film with him. Four years later I made ‘Art Will Save The World’ with some money the brilliant Irish Film Board loaned us and the rest as they say is history.
Niall intends for ‘Lost In France’ to be the second part of a trilogy of films inspired about music but is quick to clarify that, “a good music film is a good film first and foremost and the best music films are not really about music anyway. These two features I’ve made so far have been to some extent love poems to that time when I was young and music mad. It’s kind of my way of giving something back to people whose work really changed my life and in the darker times, saved me.”
While ‘Lost In France’ is a film about a specific place, it also hooks on a particular concert, Niall continued, “the film is a celebration of all the wonderful music that has come out of and continues to come out of Glasgow. Chemikal was always the way into the story though. Their story is in many ways the story of independent indie music in Glasgow (or whatever you want to call it). Aidan Moffat [of the world’s greatest ever band Arab Strap) and I had been in discussions over emails and phone calls about finding a project to work together on. In Glasgow he mentioned the Mauron Trip they all took nearly 20 years before and I knew pretty much straight away I had found what I was looking for. I had found a way into the story I wanted to tell. From then it was a question of convincing all the other players to take part and go back with me.”
While perhaps sounding like the Lord Of The Rings plot, the trip to Mauron was a small town in France that many of those bands in Glasgow made a long road trip to play a festival there in the late 1990s, Niall’s film brought many members of those bands back for a reunion, “we had a week of shooting around Glasgow and a week in France. It was all planned out far in advance. We tried to follow the treatment I wrote as a blueprint, you have everything in place and you just hope that by setting certain things in motion you will get what you are looking for. That’s the beauty of documentary, it’s the stuff of reality and sometimes you get something you didn’t expect and it’s 10 times better than anything you could of hoped for. ”
In this case the element of the film that Niall couldn’t predict was that after they played their billed solo concerts musicians decided to form an impromptu super group, having captured that for the documentary iiself Niall is delighted to be able to have them play after it premieres in Glasgow next week, “the guys brought that idea to the table originally in Mauron as the film climaxes with them playing as a “supergroup” in a small bar in the village. In France It was obviously something I had hoped would happen but it was important that they came up with the idea themselves. When you are making a film you want and need your subjects to be comfortable and happy. If they are they will be open and generous towards the production and I could not have wished for more generous and lovely human beings than the ones featured in the film. So it made sense to repeat this at the special event and the guys have been generous enough to enter into that plan and all the practice it takes.”
While openly calling it a love letter to his own youth Niall also notes that he doubts there will be a film made in the same way about any scene or label from 2017 “my film is set in a land before mobile phones and the internet, but also in a time when the music industry was thriving, it’s on its knees now and they aren’t the same opportunities for upcoming artists to make enough of a living to keep at it. So really the main problem with making the film now is that the guys in it would all be ‘trustifarians”. That’s one of the points of the film, that trip could not happen now because everything has changed, changed utterly.”
‘Lost In France’ and an accompanying concert from Alex Kapranos (Franz Ferdinand), Stuart Braithwaite (Mogwai), RM Hubbard (El Hombre Trajeado), Paul Savage and Emma Pollock (The Delgados) will be screened live from Glasgow on Tuesday 21 February
in Triskel Christchurch and The Gate Cinema
‘Lost In France’ is screened around Ireland on Nationwide release on Fri 3 March, details here on film’s website / also able to be watched at home
There is an Irish tour with Emma Pollock [a founder of both Chemikal Underground and The Delagados] and RM Hubbert on the following dates.