- 24 Apr 18
Rising star Sean Clancy talks about his first feature Locus of Control, shot for €800.
‘The Shining meets a FAS Course’ is an odd way to describe new Irish thriller Locus of Control. Yet to writer-director Sean Clancy, the comparison isn’t crazy.
Screening at the Dublin Sci-Fi Film Festival this week, Locus of Control centres on Andrew Egan (played by John Morton) a struggling stand-up comic forced into taking a teaching job. In doing so, he becomes trapped in a personal hell of ‘confusing and condescending bureaucracy’.
Clancy says in terms of influences on his debut The Shining was ‘a big one’: “The epic hotel of Kubrick’s film, the big institution of mine. Both Jack Torrance and Andrew are creative types driven crazy in vast spaces.”
Focusing on an artist unable to find work in his field, Locus of Control was inspired by Clancy’s own experience struggling to be a filmmaker during the recession: “Yeah it’s personal in that sense of wanting to do something creative but being stymied due to outside forces.”
Clancy adds: “The movie speaks to bigger ideas of anxiety and depression regarding self-worth and belief. People can relate to that.”
In keeping with these themes, the title refers to the feeling that forces are beyond your control.
“The film is named after the personality test, a way of seeing how you view the world. There’s two outcomes. An internal locus means you are in control of your life and decisions you make affect the life you have. An external one means you feel no matter what you do, external circumstances will dictate your life.”
The filmmaker says the rise in Irish horror of late (A Dark Song, The Lodgers, Lenny Abrahamson’s upcoming The Little Stranger) is due to the recession. “In terms of the economics of making a movie, horror can be done relatively cheaply and have a potentially wide audience”, says Clancy.
As proof of his theory, Locus of Control was shot for €800 in 15 days. Speaking about the swift shooting time, the writer-director says: “I was worried before we started, wondering how you hold up in terms of sleep for that amount of time. But, it wasn’t that bad.”
The intense shoot forced Clancy to utilise tricks to keep things on schedule.
“In locations we didn’t have a lot of time to access, I’d take photographs and start reverse engineering other locations based on what the rooms where we didn’t have much time to shoot already looked like. Anything to make the settings look consistent”.
Even more impressive is that the class scenes which make up around 20 minutes of Locus of Control were shot in one day. Laughing, Clancy recalls that experience: “That was a long day. The shoot went from 9.00 a.m. that morning to quite late that night. It was getting dodgy. We were well past our welcome point for that location!”.
What seemed to help Clancy was his cast comprised of recurring collaborators: “Myself and Peter McGann (who plays Chris in the movie) had met in college in Galway so we’ve worked together since then. It’s always good fun,”.
Locus of Control screens on April 26 at the Generator Hostel in Smithfield, Dublin. Yet, it won’t be the last you hear of it: “There’s more screenings across the summer. Then it goes online to Amazon Prime later in the year”
Continuing, Clancy says “It’s cool to know that after these screenings, there is going to be a home for it where people can actually watch it, as opposed to it just sitting on a hard-drive.”
What’s next for the filmmaker? “I’d love to try make a narrative short by the end of the year. I’m itching to get back out there”. The Irish horror renaissance lives on.
Locus of Control screens as part of the Dublin Sci-Fi Film Festival on April 26. Sean Clancy will be attendance. To see the festival’s full line up – follow the link here