A YOUNG Cork man has just directed Westlife’s new video and has described it as a ‘turn of fortune’ in his blossoming directing career.
Lochlainn McKenna, a 25-year-old from Cork city, is a graduate of drama and theatre studies from UCC, but said an inability to make money from acting pushed him into production.
He’s only been working as a freelance director full time for the past two years and has already had the ‘surreal experience’ of working on Westlife’s Better Man, which was written by none other than global superstar Ed Sheeran.
Shot over two days in Dublin, his concept for the video was to show a new mature, adult Westlife as well as their more human side.
“The whole idea was to create an era specific representation of the struggles that face musicians who go on to become megastars like Westlife,” explained Lochlainn.
“We set the video in 1993 and move into the present day. A young couple in the video are around 14 — which is around the age Westlife would have been around then.
“It’s a dramatised story which essentially looks at the choices we make when we’re younger and how they can be amended as we get older… with Westlife performing in the middle. It was really important to me that Westlife were bedded within our narrative. I wanted them to play themselves recording, rather than a straight up performance video to camera.”
Lochlainn, who is known as ‘Locky’, said the band members were ‘really professional’.
“They really understood the process. They were very collaborative and were respectful of the work we were doing. Outside of shooting they were sound and there was a lot of banter between them personally. Honestly, I don’t have a bad word to say about them,” he said.
It’s been a whirlwind six months for the young film and commercial director as he is also waiting to find out if a music video he directed with electronic artist Daithi is included in the Young Director Awards in Cannes.
“I also won three Kinsale Shark Awards in September for a music video I made with Daithí over the summer. One of those awards was for Best New Director.
“That garnered a lot of attention and I met a lot of amazing companies in London off the back of that and signed with production company Kode Media, which is how I got the Westlife gig.”
Since then Locky’s gone on to receive a prestigious Vimeo Staff Pick for another collaboration with Daithí and won two Institute of Creative Advertising and Design Emerging Director Award.
He has also directed ads for Toyota, Heineken, Sky, Aer Lingus and Aldi, some for TV, some for online.
Currently based in Dublin he’s considering a move across the pond as his relationship with Kode grows.
“At the moment it’s just a case of working my way up the ladder and sustaining a living, really. I want to move on to bigger commercials and music videos — Westlife is a turn of fortune in this regard — in the short term future. Beyond that I’d ultimately like to make more films, shorts on to futures.
“That’s the end game, but to be honest I’m very happy making music videos and commercials. It’s a fantastic career.”
Lochlainn is really keen to emphasise that, especially to younger readers.
“There’s a whole sphere of careers you’re not traditionally exposed to in the film industry. You don’t need to have a degree, you just need to be a diligent hard worker with a desire to learn and have self-belief. “In my opinion, the beauty of this industry is you can achieve whatever you want if you believe in yourself.
“If you’re a hard worker you’ll find there are jobs in the camera department, special effects, costume, assistant directing, sound, post-production, lighting, construction, art direction… there really are so many avenues but it’s not mentioned in schools and our industry is truly booming, I wish there was more emphasis put on it.
“Freelance can be scary but it’s really rewarding and I think it’s a shame more people don’t take the plunge!”
For now, Locky is still processing the whole Westlife experience.
“It’s been two months of grafting from the various rounds of pitching to pre-production to the shooting and the eventual post-production. Ed Sheeran wrote the song so for a lot of my younger family that means a lot more to them than Westlife!
“It’s been a surreal experience working with the band and our amazing crew to deliver something I’m really proud of. I have to say… I never thought I’d direct a Westlife video!”
See the video on www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZEQOE1oZQ-4https://