Eoin Macken’s name may not be familiar to you, but his face could be. Hailing from Dublin, Ireland, Eoin was selected at the ripe age of 19 as the Face of Abercrombie & Fitch, a well-known American clothing retailer. Eoin modeled successfully for A&F as well as other high end bookings before moving on to become a talented actor, writer, producer, director, and cinematographer.
I first learned of Eoin’s talents on the BBC Series Merlin where he brought to life King Arthur’s lovable knight, Sir Gwaine. It was on the set of Merlin where Eoin met his good friend Tom Hopper. Their friendship led them down a road of creativity from which an Independent Feature Film was created entitled Cold (Please note.. the film has since been re-titled as Leopard.) If Cold sounds familiar, it’s because several Features in At a Glance have been devoted to different aspects of the project. I posted an interview with Alan Rickard from the band Evora, whose music was featured in the film. Leeloo reviewed Evora’s CD release as well as providing coverage for us from both Cold Cons, including a review of the film when it premiered at the second Con (conventions celebrating the film with panels and autograph/photograph sessions.)
Now Eoin is about to grace America’s shores once more when he comes to our small screens as Dr. TC Callahan in the new NBC Series The Night Shift. With a number of other projects under his belt, you can imagine Eoin is a busy guy. So after much patience on my part (much, much patience, lol..I wanted this interview and wasn’t going to give up!), Eoin finally had opportunity to squeeze me into his schedule and chat a bit.
First Eoin, thanks so much for your time, I know that your life has been a whirlwind lately. Maybe we should start off with a little of your background…how early in life did you realize you were interested in acting and did interest in the production side come later or was it just the entire industry from the get go?
I had no interest in acting or film making until I was in college. I was too shy to do any school plays apart being background on some musicals, which I did because they brought in girls’ schools to participate and I was in an all-boys school….so logically being involved made sense! It was only after I began modeling and then trained in Meisner and then began taking photographs that I tentatively became interested and then full blown obsessed when I was 21. I had previously wanted to be a zoologist, marine biologist or a vet.
I’d like to discuss the process of Cold, so for those who are not familiar with your journey, can you share a little about how the idea came around?
Quite simply I just want to make films and stories, as a kid I always wrote and English was my best subject in school so I had submerged dreams of writing which film making allowed me to cultivate, so I always want to create stories…Tom told me he wanted to play a more nuanced character than he had before and I wanted to act with him on more challenging material so I wrote Cold for him. We both loved the script and I simply decided to make it on our break week from filming (Merlin).
How long did it take you to write the screenplay, and did it evolve once you started filming?
I wrote it on the tube and to and from work (on set at Merlin) for about 2-3 months and then it was simply finished. I wrote some additional scenes after we shot the first block (in August) to give some additional layers to some characters, but not that much. And when we filmed we had no time to let it evolve, we followed it very stringently as time was too tight to deviate.
You have a degree in Psychology…do you think this aids you in your writing or does it present more of a distraction when it comes to character development and motivation?
I hope it aids! I don’t think about it too literally, I guess automatically it makes me consider in more detail the little things.
When developing characters, most writers seem to draw from influences around them. Did you base any of Cold’s characters on any specific individuals from your experiences?
No, I just made it up. The story was influenced by what I was reading at the time which was East of Eden and Paris, Texas, purely coincidental, but I find what I’ve recently immersed myself in from any artistic angle influences my thinking.
The scenery shots look amazing for the film. Did you have specific locations in mind when writing? When it came time to find the actual locations, did you have any difficulty gaining access to achieve the look you envisioned?
All the locations apart from the interior of Jack’s house in Dublin and the strip club, were places I knew and so when I wrote I had them based there, as Mountshannon is where I spent a lot of my summers with my family so I knew the area very well and the locals knew my mother so they were eager to help. The same in Dublin, the bars etc. were places of people I knew so locations were easy enough.
This is not the first time that you have directed a project that you have also acted in. How difficult is that process as compared to acting with another director?
Acting with another director is great because I don’t have any other elements to consider apart from just acting and it allows me to trust them more, as I understand that the director has a vision or an idea and if he/she needs me to do something it’s important to listen….but acting and directing and writing at the same time is a lot of hard work to be honest.
You have done previous acting alongside Tom Hopper, from this experience as well as your personal friendship, did you find the directing dynamic more or less difficult than you had anticipated with him?
It was as easy and as enjoyable as I expected because Tom is very talented and so laid back. He trusted me implicitly which made it so easy to direct him, and as an actor I gave him my entire trust, which is important, and I think the closeness we have comes across on screen. Tom wasn’t precious so he followed my vision but equally I trusted him with his character and let him create it, it was a very liberating and communicative experience.
You are also working with Jack Reynor in Cold, who starred in the critically acclaimed film What Richard Did, and has recently been cast in the new Transformers sequel. How did you two become acquainted?
We knew each other briefly, but then 18 months ago worked on Gary Shore‘s currently in post-production trailer adaptation of Cu Chulainn (I played Cu Chulainn and Jack was young Ferdia), and we simply clicked.
It seems the cast and crew really fell into place for the shoot, almost as if you were the Pied Piper. Apparently everyone loves you. Great networking or did they all owe you money? 😉
I’m very lucky that I work with people with whom I get along with and who wanted to create something great, so it was a fun adventure when you all like the story and actively want to make something interesting. Because they were all my friends from previous films we got on very well and it was a blast, which is how it should be!
The music is something that seems to be an important quality to you in filmmaking. Can you touch on the role it plays in Cold and how you went about selecting musicians Kevin Whyms and the band Evora to be a part of it?
Evora are incredible and I know their sound so well that their music was always going to be involved and I listened to some of their demo stuff when I was writing. But Kevin Whyms is a musical genius and even though I had planned on having more of an Evora influence, once he began to write the score, he changed the tone of the film and crafted an amazing score that left an indelible mark on the mood of the film. The music is very much Kevin and his genius and it heavily affected the film.
This is the first time you’ve opened any of your projects up to crowd funding by using Indiegogo. What made you decide to go with this type of a program and what has been your experience with it? Would you consider using crowd funding again?
I would because I was surprised by the interest. I would do so only if I could use the money more effectively and shoot for longer. It was a great campaign as it opened myself and Tom’s eyes to the enthusiasm of the fans and let us engage which was a lot of fun and very humbling, and the money meant I wasn’t destitute, which I was about to be from planning to pay for it myself and take out a loan, but I could probably have planned it better if I’d know how much we could actually raise.
(The Indiegogo project raised $26,880.00 with a goal set of $20,000. Here is the Indiegogo appeal, which of course has concluded, but the video contains amazing stills of the film.)
What has surprised you the most out of the whole Cold experience and what are you most proud of?
The reaction of the fans, especially from the screening when people seemed to be genuinely affected. That’s why you make films, for people to enjoy them and to want to watch them. The sheer volume of questions and insightful observations about the film and the script has made me very proud and the excitement people have had towards it has made it a joy.
NBC has announced The Night Shift as part of its upcoming lineup, of which you are included in the ensemble cast. Anything you can share from this series or any other project you may have in the works?
It’s gonna be epic and a lot of bloody fun, just trust me, this is gonna be a gooooood show! Just follow my Instagram and you’ll see 😉
Will do! Ok, before we finish up, we’ve got one more little fun thing I like to call…
Fast Five – Questions for Fun
Favorite food indulgence? Chocolate and smoothies
Last song you listened to on your MP3 player? Miles Davis
Favorite guilty pleasure? Is it weird if I say sex?
Which Superhero would you choose to be? Batman
Besides Instagram, Eoin may also be found on Twitter, his personal blog, and webpage! Cold will be appearing in selected film festivals in 2014 and information on release of the film will be forthcoming through Eoin‘s Twitter and here at At A Glance so stay connected! For photos of the Cold Con and fan screening along with more info, check out Cold the Feature Film fan Facebook page and the Cold Feature Film Fansite!
**UPDATE… This film has since been re-titled as Leopard
Cold – A film by Eoin Macken Leeloo fills us in on the film and all the fun from the Premier at Cold Con 2
Evora – Album Launch at The Grand Social – Dublin Leeloo brings us all the highlights!
Hurry Up Before I Die – Evora Review of Dublin based band Evora’s debut album by Leeloo
Tell Me Your Name A chat with Alan Rickard from the Dublin based band Evora