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Meet the 2015 Sundance Filmmakers #7: John Maclean’s ‘Slow West’ Puts a European Spin on the Western

Meet the 2015 Sundance Filmmakers #7: John Maclean's 'Slow West' Puts a European Spin on the Western

Before making films full time, John Maclean made music. He was in a band called The Beta Band, whose music has been featured in a string of acclaimed films, namely “High Fidelity,””Igby Goes Down” and “It’s All Gone Pete Tong.”

Maclean made his first short, “Man on a Motorcycle,” in 2009, and then another, called “Pitch Black Heist,” in 2011. Both shorts feature actor Michael Fassbender, who also stars “Slow West,” the feature film that Maclean is bringing to Sundance and screening in the World Cinema Dramatic Competition.

What’s your film about in 140 characters or less? 
Set in 1870 Colorado Territory, “Slow West” tells of a sixteen year old boy from the highlands of Scotland who crossed the wild West of America in search of the girl he loved.

Now what’s it really about?
A European perspective of the West and young love, more info would contain spoilers.

Tell us briefly about yourself.
 I studied Drawing and Painting at Edinburgh Art School and The Royal College of Art in London. After graduating I formed The Beta Band with a couple of friends. I made many of the music videos, which were very DIY and tried to be short films in style and a great training ground for film making with little to no budget.

What was the biggest challenge in completing this film?
Writing the script was a challenge, many dark days of doubt, and then the edit was a reflection of the writing, sandwiched in the middle was the shoot, which everyone told me would be stressful and difficult, in fact it was wonderful.

What do you want Sundance audiences to take away from your film.
Their rubbish. I used to work in a cinema and hated cleaning up popcorn and lolly wrappers between the seats.

Did any films inspire you?
Too many to mention. The work of Carl Theodor Dreyer, Bresson, Brunuel, Carpenter, Allen , Spielberg, Scorsese, Bergman, Hughes, Kurosawa, Denis, Herzog, Wilder, Altman, Cassavetes, Hitchcock, Lynch , Polanski, Leone, Tarkovsky, Lumet.

What’s next?
Back to the drawing board. A blank sheet of paper, some daydreaming, and hopefully a second feature.

What cameras did you shoot on?
Alexa is all I know, but I’m ignorant when it comes to cameras, and leave all those choices to my DoP Robbie Ryan. We used one camera.

Indiewire invited Sundance Film Festival directors to tell us about their films, including what inspired them, the challenges they faced and what they’re doing next. We’ll be publishing their responses leading up to the 2015 festival. For profiles go HERE.

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