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Midlands Movies Spotlight - John McCourt

By midlandsmovies, Jul 25 2015 08:04AM

Midlands Movies Mike speaks to local Leicester filmmaker John McCourt about his upcoming web-series “Arrivals” and his recent leap from music to the movies.

Self-confessed lover of wine, cigarettes and redheads, John McCourt started out as a gigging musician in Leicester but has since moved on to become a scriptwriter. However, he has not forgotten his musical roots as John still writes the scores for many local films.

A displaced Scotsman, John headed to the Midlands for work many years ago but says like many people who live in the city he “never managed to achieve sufficient velocity to escape the Leicester gravity well”. Plus all his stuff is here, he adds.

Saying that he currently only “dabbles” in the city’s film industry, John has been on the periphery of a few projects for a number of years, with his music being used on soundtracks and appearing as an extra in a café scene in a friend’s film. But after joining Leicester’s Seven/Five film-making collective last October, and especially after what he drolly describes as “a catastrophic clerical error” leading to him winning their Achievement in Writing award two months later, John decided that 2015 was the year to take it “slightly seriously”

Although he has a day job, John has been writing for both himself and others for the last 6 months, with his writing skewing more specialize in comedy. Conversely, his speculative new short “Arrivals:Prologue” is a no-budget sci-fi web-series, but he says he hopes to throw in “a few good jokes” to that if a series comes out of that.

John goes on to describe his first night at the film-making group he’s now a fixture with: “I pitched two things the night I joined Seven/Five: Arrivals, a no-budget sci-fi mini web-series; and Geoff, an idea based on a joke about a song my old band played. The first episode of Arrivals is about to go live on YouTube, whereas Geoff is still languishing in post-production hell. Somewhat ironically, given its subject matter. But they both got made, mostly thanks to people far more talented than me”.

With an air of self-deprecation, John claims his biggest hurdles are having “little to no talent, and my general misanthropy”. In spite of this, there’s a lot of time spent laughing on his sets.

“I’ve been lucky enough to work with people whose company I enjoy, and who can have a laugh but still produce excellent quality work”, he explains.

John says he deeply admires Charlie Kaufmann’s work as a writer and claims his biggest achievement so far is “reaching my current age without having been stabbed even a little bit. That’ll probably change before too long, though”. He cites Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid, Annie Hall and Synecdoche, New York as some of his favourite films.

Since becoming more involved with the local film scene, John has become fast friends with producer/writer/actress Eve Harding, and as well as the recently-completed Arrivals:Prologue, they hope to work together on more projects in the future under their Pixie Thug Productions banner.

Eve plays Lilith in Arrivals:Prologue with an “absolutely hypnotizing” performance, exactly as John says he saw it in his head. Eve’s own new short “I’ll Be Waiting will also be released soon.

With a love for British films such as Soft Top, Hard Shoulder; Local Hero (“most Bill Forsyth, really)”, John feels an affinity for “anything with sharp dialogue”.

“No, that doesn’t include that guy Ritchie”, he makes very clear!

Finally, I ask him what advice he would give to others and he encourages those with an interest in films to “get out there, find like-minded souls, and fucking do it”.

“Seriously, it’s not rocket surgery", he goes on. "And it can be an incredibly satisfying, joyful experience. Trust me: I’m an idiot, so if I can do it, anyone can. It can also make you want to punch babies in the face, but you should probably curb that particular instinct.”

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