Fiona O’Brien spoke to the cast and crew of Jack Mulligan as it premiered at BAFTA Piccadilly, to a sold-out audience, last week
Jack Mulligan is a new short film, which looks into the criminal underworld of the London Irish community, written by the Bible- Code Sundays’ Andy Nolan.
Its realistic snapshot of west London, in particular around the Ladbroke Grove area, naturally brings in ties to the Carribean community, which is something that Nolan referred to in the post-screening Q&A.
“Growing up in and around north west London, and then seeing crime films on television, it always struck me that our area and all of its multi-culturalism was like the Hell’s Kitchen in New York, or similar to some districts in Boston,” he said.
Former boxer Steve Collins, who is a producer of the film, as well as starring in it, has already brought the film to America, where it earned rave reviews, and some real interest from film execs in terms of potentially pursuing a feature length version, or perhaps a TV series.
The film has already premiered in America, where Nolan said viewers were extremely intrigued to see an alternative take on the Irish community when they are used to seeing country depictions of life back in Ireland, or Irish American crime dramas.
The film is based around the young Jack Mulligan and his experience of growing up on the wrong side of the tracks. He is depicted by Dean Smith in, astonishingly, his first ever acting role.
While that fact is surprising enough, it becomes even more staggering when you hear how Smith initially got involved with the project. His father Noel ‘Razor’ Smith, also appears in the film and his a long-time pal of Nolan’s.
You can catch the second ‘Jack Mulligan’ premiere at the Beck Theatre:
get tickets here
Smith Snr, has written at length about his criminal past, which meant that he spent a huge portion of his adult life behind bars. A character in his own right, he taught himself to read and write while in prison, and earned law and journalism degrees while serving a life-sentence for armed robbery. He has written many books, and decided to abandon his criminal past after his son Joe passed away while he was inside.
Razor plays one of the gangsters in Steve Collins’ mob, and was at a fundraising event for the film in the Claddagh Ring along with Nolan and director Tom Begley. Whilst there, Begley spotted Dean Smith and asked Nolan who he was, convinced they had found ‘Jack Mulligan’.
At the time Dean had never shown any interest in acting and was working for British Gas, but was called along for a workshop and interview, and his natural, and very raw, talent was deemed perfect by the production staff for the role.
Jack Mulligan is brought up in an inner city council estate, and after his family fall on hard times the local hard man Jimmy Callinan, played by Steve Collins, takes him under his wing.
Succumbing to a life of crime and running errands for Callinan, Mulligan’s mother pleads with him to change his ways, and after he meets the strait-laced and law-abiding Luisa, played by Terri Dwyer, Jack looks like he is about to turn his back on a life of crime. But as the pressures of mixing two separate worlds comes to a head in the most violent of fashions, Jack seeks revenge.
The short film has a feel of a feature film, and is slick and professional in its look and feel, with neither shots nor script seeming forced at any time. The effortless and seamless gliding from scene to scene is not clumsy like many other short films, and the performances mean there are no awkward transitions, which would distract an audience.
DOP Sean Cronin’s, who shot and edited the film, work is seamless and the use of music overlaying periods of drama is done perfectly. One such feature on the soundtrack is an Elvis Costello song, which the Londoner gave to Nolan to use for free due to his friendship and being a band member of his brother Ronan MacManus.
Nolan’s script is sharp and has a true feel of urban London, without being too ‘Mockney’ or ‘Jafaican’ at any point, and has some real stand-out one-liners, especially as Callinan tells Jack that ‘You tell a man something and it goes in one ear and out the other, you tell a woman and it goes in both ears and out of her mouth’.
The plot itself still has plenty of room to be developed further, with Nolan admitting that the initial reasoning behind making the short film was to use as a platform to eventually make a feature film, and he is excited about the prospect of potentially turning it into a series.
There is no getting away from the graphic violence shown, but although gory at times, it never seems gratuitous and always furthers the plot. There is no getting away from the fact however that this is a gritty crime drama and such scenes are needed to fulfil expectations of the genre. One particular scene seems almost comical in its use of violence, but serves to represent the instability of Collins’ character.
Watch the trailer here:
‘Jack Mulligan’ at BAFTA
Last week, ‘Jack Mulligan’ had its British film premiere at BAFTA in Piccadilly. Cast and crew were in attendance at the prestigious venue, where they gave a special Q&A afterwards. It was the second of two Sean Cronin films to be shown, alongside ‘Unborn Justice’, which was the screenplay debut from main actor Jel Djelal.
Andy Nolan, who wrote Jack Mulligan, said that it was important to show a film about the Irish community in Britain, which ‘has been overlooked by the industry for far too long’.+3