We Chat with Co-Producer and WFT member Mo OConnell about Feature Film ‘The Clan Canavan’

By 25 February 2024Listen, News & Events

Here at WFT we believe in the importance of independent filmmaking and are delighted to see production for the feature film The Clan Canavan underway. This film is co-produced by WFT member Maureen ‘Mo’ OConnell, and features unit still photography by our very own WFT Board Member Jaro Waldeck.

Adam O’Keeffe and Edwin Mullane make up the newly formed production company, Wavewalker Films, who are behind this new feature. In co-production with Wavewalker Films is the award-winning production company 3 Hot Whiskeys run by co-producer Mo O’Connell. We spoke with Mo about this wonderful project. 

Mo, who was recently accepted on the X-Pollinator program by Screen Ireland, believes the film will resonate with audiences around the world: “This was truly an ‘against the odds’ shoot, but we now have an incredible film in the can and it’s only onwards and upwards from here! This story really cuts to the heart of what it is to be part of a family, and it highlights the uniquely Irish quirks and quibbles that most of us experience at some point in our lives. We’re looking forward to the huge success this film will garner.”

This film’s journey is a David and Goliath story. They started with very little backing but with fantastic support from fellow filmmakers and the community of North Sligo and the surrounding area, they have got the film in the can! They received great support from the public too through a Kickstarter Campaign that is still live. 


Can you tell us about The Clan Canavan?

The Clan Canavan is a feature film that was shot in mid January 2024 for three weeks, in Sligo, Leitrim and Donegal. It is a contemporary comedy-drama about four estranged siblings who must reconvene at their old family home after the passing of their father and hear the will being read. Things don’t go as planned…

How did you get to collaborate with Adam O’Keeffe & Edwin Mullane?

Ed sent in his fabulous short film A Christmas Matter to my film festival, The Dublin International Comedy Film Festival and we got chatting at the festival. Later, he sent me on his pitch-deck for The Clan Canavan. I was very impressed with both the pitch and the cast that he had already assembled at that point – with Carolyn Brack on board – who wouldn’t be impressed?

I then asked for the script and at that point, I was pretty much sold. It’s a really tight script and a very enjoyable, engrossing read. It was just before Christmas that I came aboard and we were shooting on January 15th. There was a lot to be done, so I just rolled my sleeves up and began work with the lads!

What was the development process like?

There wasn’t much of a development process, really. Adam O’Keeffe had written the first draft in November 2023 and they had a window of opportunity to shoot from January 15th to February 2nd due to schedules of actors and due to availability of locations and accommodation at that time. There was no other feasible time to shoot it with this cast.

We had a few zoom readings with the cast where Adam took notes – the script was very strong, so it didn’t need too much.

How did the shoot go?

Well, a lot of it took place in Bundoran, Donegal, where we were staying and shooting at the Canavan family home! Our locations were spread out between Sligo, Leitrim and Donegal.

It was exhilarating and a lot of fun! We had the most lovely cast and crew possible, I’m not so sure I’ll be as spoilt as this again! Most of the crew and myself stayed in an old Georgian house that was also the shooting location for the family home! We were a bit crammed in but they had a great time! They got to know each other and really had the craic, they got on like a house on fire! (Thank God the actual house didn’t go on fire!) But it was a ton of work too just logistically speaking and given the fact that we had so little time in pre-production meant lots of organising was done during the shoot or day by day. But everything went well and the locals were a revelation! The generosity of the locals was overwhelming to be honest. We could not have made this film without them!

Can you talk to us about the cast?

We have an outstanding cast. Carolyn Bracken is a phenomenal actor. I am so glad to have worked with her and she is just such a genuine, kind soul too! She plays “Cass”, the only sister of the Canavan siblings who has a strained relationship with her husband.

Neill Fleming plays “Niall” and gives a beautiful performance as the pent-up aggressive second eldest brother who also has a difficult relationship with his spouse and is fighting over custody of his son. This percolates in the background as he has to deal with his family.

Jed Murray plays “Jer”, the eldest sibling, and is a brilliantly versatile actor, at times moving and then hilarious. Jer is a control freak and wants to turn the family home into a hostel as he loves his Sligo home. He doesn’t want to leave and loves the outdoors. He’s stuck in his ways and is a difficult man when confronted.

Eric O’Brien plays “Evan”, the youngest of the siblings. Eric is a subtle and delicate actor and gives great depth to Evan as he struggles with secrets of his own!

Lalor Roddy plays the father, “Colm” and he is a legend! He brought so much to this part, we couldn’t have dreamed of someone else playing this role. Colm is a dark figure lurking over the shoulders of his children.

Can you tell us about the shoot?

The whole cast and crew started playing this game where you have to make someone look at your hand in the shape of an ‘O’. You basically tip your thumb and index finger together – this is really hard to write down and explain – but you have to get the person to look below hip height and show them this ‘O’ that you’ve made with your hand. If they look at it, you win. Now, when I was a kid, it meant you could thump the person. But we took the violence out of it for the shoot. Mark O’Rourke thought he was great and the king of this game. He kept getting me and winning! I wasn’t able to get him back at all!! Until… my jeep broke down on set and Mark and Seamus very kindly fixed it up enough to bring it to a local garage. As a way of thanking them both, I bought them a box of sweets and a card… in the card I drew a hand gesture of the ‘O’ sign and got them BOTH! This was the highlight of the shoot for me. No one gets Mark in this game. But I did! No one messes with Mo!

How is the edit going?

It’s at assembly point at the moment but we’re very happy with what we’re seeing! Jass Foley and the team did an astonishing job! Likewise, Anthony Egan and Eoin Gleeson on sound – mighty team altogether!

How can we help?

Oh, support of any kind is always so helpful – thank you so much for this article for starters! WFT is awesome, thank you!

Anytime, Mo. Any fellow members reading who’d like to support this film, check out their fundraising campaign here. 


The Clan Canavan a feature

The Clan Canavan is a new Irish family comedy, starring Carolyn Bracken, Lalor Roddy, John Connors and Mary Murray. Set against the stunning backdrop of North County Sligo, four estranged siblings return to their ageing childhood home to decide the fate of the family estate. This was never going to be easy, but when the father’s ghost appears and refuses to shut up, things just get harder… and funnier. As the weekend progresses and failures to agree rack up, they cajole, bicker, reunite and divide as the family’s myriad skeletons come tumbling out of the proverbial closet.


About Maureen O’Connell

Mo O’Connell is an award-winning actor, writer, director and producer. Mo has a BA in Acting from RADA and a Higher National Diploma in Film Production from Ballyfermot and has made over 12 short films. She produced and directed her own multi-award-winning comedy feature-length film, SPA Weekend which won the “She is on Fire Award” at its World Premiere at the Female Filmmakers Film Festival Berlin in 2019. Mo was selected by the Advanced Producer’s Programme run by TU Dublin and Screen Ireland to part-take in the prestigious Lord David Puttnam Scholarship. This excellent and inspiring course concluded at the end of July of 2023. Mo has recently been awarded a Distinction for her studies for the Diploma in Advanced Producing ratified by Screen Ireland and TU Dublin University.