- 09 Sep 21
Hot Press finds Northern Irish singer/songwriter Ryan McMullan and Brendan J. Bryne ecstatic about the release of Ryan McMullan: Debut.
Ryan McMullan's played with the likes of Ed Sheeran and Snow Patrol, not to mention a headline show at the Ulster Hall. However, watching footage of himself recording still phases him.
"It was very interesting to have that kind of moment recorded because it's a vulnerable moment," Ryan confides. "To show that was very daunting."
In Ryan McMullan: Debut, a new film directed by Brendan J. Byrne (producer of George Best: All by Himself and Gaza), we are told the story of an up-and-coming singer recording his first-ever album whilst also detailing the burgeoning beginning to his musical career.
Brendan was a fly on the wall for the recording sessions. "When you've got people in a room, you've got to have some way of trying to get the people in sync for long enough to get good enough footage.
"It was a very memorable experience and one of the best things I've ever filmed. Remembering that time now, it was fabulous."
Ryan McMullan has had a more interesting last five years than most 20-something lads. After performing at open mics here and there, a chance meeting with another Northern Irish musician was what really kick-started this drive to make it.
That artist was Foy Vance.
Vance, upon meeting Ryan, asked the young singer-songwriter what he had to say when it came to his art. And he didn't have an answer.
Even when Vance had become a friend and trusted confidant and collaborator, this question still provoked anxiety for him. It was one of the main sparks for him to kick on and develop himself as an artist. This moment was just one of many in the film that showcases Ryan's journey,
Vance, Ryan's drummer and manager Paul ‘Hammy’ Hamilton and Ryan's album producer Eoin O’Callaghan became his trusted inner circle, helping him navigate his early career. These mentors even helped him meet with Ed Sheeran – which led the pop superstar to ask Ryan to support him on tour.
However, all of this wouldn't have happened without his talent, which is clear throughout the film. In interviews and from the footage itself, it's evident how much work Ryan has put in to get to where he is.
"Those guys are just superstars, and they've always been there to help show me the ropes and whenever I don't know what I'm doing. They've been so guiding and helpful," Ryan says with glowing respect for his mentors and friends.
Director, Brendan J. Byrne agrees. "I felt that the film would be stronger to feature all three of them, but with Ryan at the head of the triangle to give an audience a real insight into an emerging artist.
"You need at least two things; you need an artistic mentor, someone who you respect and someone who can gauge it on the musical front, that's Foy. Then you need someone who can spend the plates and be in charge of all the busy touring schedules, that's Hammy".
Although the movie was meant to finish with the artist successfully releasing his debut record and reaching new heights, it has a twist at the end – originally meant to be released in 2020, a little pandemic got in the way.
"That was the year I edited the film," Brendan states. "It was rather fortunate for us that the entire film was shot – more or less – apart from the ending. But the pandemic left us with a dilemma.
"Given the tone of the film is about discovery, beginnings and aspiration, I was worried it was going to be a bit of a downer".
Luckily for Brendan and Ryan, even with the onset of the pandemic, the film still manages to showcase the intimate travails of a young artist touring with major acts and recording their debut in a lovely fashion.
As the director alludes, it's certainly one for all the dreamers out there.
Take a look at the trailer for Ryan McMullan: Debut, out now: