A Q&A with Markham Street Films

As we continue Celtic Soul Week here at Plank, we’re chatting with the film’s director Michael McNamara and producer Aaron Hancox of Markham Street Films about their experience on the road with Jay Baruchel and Eoin O’Callaghan.

Tell us how you got involved in this project – how did your relationship with Jay and Eoin begin? 

Aaron: John Doyle at the Globe and Mail put Eoin and Michael in touch. Oddly enough, my relationship with Jay began in high school. We were buds and played in a band together in NDG. So to have this project be brought to our company was great.

Michael: It was at the Rogers TIFF party in 2013 that John Doyle said “I have someone you need to meet who has a project that’s perfect for you.” And he was right!

Tell us a bit about the process – how do you develop the storyline of an unscripted documentary?

Aaron: Jay and Eoin had been talking about this trip for a while, so we worked with them to find things to do on camera that a) they were interested in and b) would help us tie all the stories and themes of the film together – friendship, footie, heritage, etc.

Michael: The lovely thing about a road movie is that the map for the trip becomes the map for the story too.  And a road movie is also a perfect opportunity for structured improvisation – something Jay and Eoin and our entire crew excelled at.

Can you share a personal highlight of the road trip?

Aaron: Glasgow was so great – getting so close to the heart of the action at Celtic Park. But the highlight was probably an evening of impromptu ‘trad’ music at Matt Malloy’s pub in Westport.

Michael: There are so many. Getting handed a guitar and attempting to keep up with the other players in Matt Malloy’s was awesome.  Climbing the mountain Croagh Patrick, with our 2 characters, a crew and a ton of gear was both a challenge and a thrill.  And hey, my ancestors come from Ireland to, so this was a great opportunity for me to search my own Celtic Soul.

What about the challenges – what went wrong along the way? 

Aaron: Getting both our production van AND our rental car stuck in an Irish bog filled with “slurry” (manure) was an epic fail. But I got a nice souvenir – my clothes still smell.

Michael: Ireland is a rainy and cold place in February, but it’s the only time all our schedules worked, so it was a constant challenge to keep the gear and the crew relatively dry.  Marc Lamy, our DP, brought along a drone and captured gorgeous stunning stuff on the road and climbing the mountain.  But the day we planned to use it to get establishing aerial shots of Glasgow the rain poured down in black sheets and we couldn’t get the drone off the ground.  

Are you Celtic supporters now? Do you have any of your own sport obsessions?

Aaron: I grew up in Montreal, so I’m a massive Habs fan. But my experience with Celtic left me no choice but to root for the ‘hoops’. Their hospitality and support was totally humbling. It’s so much more than a business venture, and that’s very infectious.  

Michael: I grew up in Windsor, so all my teams are Detroit teams (though I’ve learned to love the Jays).  But spending time with the players at the Lennoxtown Practice facility really gave me an appreciation for the unique combination of commitment, grace and skill Celtic players have. So yeah, I’m a fan. No, make that “a supporter”!

We want to thank Michael and Aaron for taking the time to talk with us. To learn more about the #CelticRoadTrip, explore the website for video clips, Celtic FC history, and more. The film premieres at the Hot Docs Cinema in Toronto on November 25th. You can ask Jay, Eoin and Michael your own questions following the screening. 

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