But McCallion is entitled to a little marquee mooning; he's only 30 and he's cranked out quite an impressive load of spots in the two and a half years since he joined London's Park Village and built his reel with underfunded agency projects that were financed by the production company. One such spot is still on his current reel; we watch two barely dressed lunatics carrying on in what may be a well-appointed asylum, tagged, "Brass Monkey underpants, as recommended by a pair of nuts." The spot is credited to London's Bainsfair Sharkey Trott, and so is another Park Village project seen on an earlier reel, a cinema spot for a London TV talk show in which we're watching what seem to be two hot babes necking passionately, when a wig-fall reveals one is a guy.
McCallion likes in your face concepts, which may have something to do with his in your face childhood near Derry in Northern Ireland. "I'm very Irish, totally Irish," he says, which means, among other things, that he sometimes dyes his hair green. He's been painting since the age of 4, he went to a little film school in Dublin at 15, where he started with animation, later switched to live action, and began making short films, mostly comedy and violence. "I like hyperviolence, my roots are based in bombs and guns," he says. "I have no time for art films." He moved to London, went to the Royal College of Art, and hooked up with Park Village, though he's with Gorgeous now for U.K. work (see story on page 48), and he's repped in the States by New York's New Directions.
While he may have no time for art films, he has time for porn films. McCallion may be the only director who can boast of making a spot in which two cars copulate (they do it doggie style, by the way, it's less strain on the roof), in a French teaser for the Renault Megane. The spot never aired, but McCallion insists this had nothing to do with the "apparent crudity of the concept"; it was some sort of political impasse between Publicis and the client. "Cars can't fuck in England, but France has no problem with this," he says. In fact, Paris-based McCallion is nuts about the French commercials scene. "There are some brilliant postproduction people in Paris, they're much more than technicians," he says. "There are people from the post house who are with me on the shoot all the time. They're even in preproduction. I find generally in Paris you get a lot more for your money."
The Dusk Till Dawn remake was shot in Spain for Euro RSCG/Madrid, with effects handled in Barcelona, but it was posted at Mikros in Paris, one of McCallion's favorite outfits. "It may come direct from another film," says McCallion of the spot, "but there was a fortune of ideas and a fortune of fun to be had there." It's a TV, not cinema, spot for the Spanish market, and may also air in Italy and Germany; the film it salutes is very well-known in Europe, apparently, and McCallion himself has seen it twice.
Another dirty French Renault spot on the current reel is all in the dialogue. Nonfrancophiles will think they're watching some Gallic equivalent of Riney's American heartland as a man banters with women and children outside a school where parents are picking up their kids. McCallion explains: "A guy hangs out by schools and pays kids to pretend he's their father. The mothers who come by think he's a great dad, but he's really trying to fuck the single ones. It's quite mad stuff." Moreover, McCallion manages to direct French dialogue without being remotely fluent in the language. "Dialogue is just words," he says."It's all in the tone of delivery, the body language, which I have to pay close attention to, since I can't focus on the words. I always have someone beside me I can ask if that sounds as good as I think it sounds."
McCallion also has a cute French comedy spot for Cristal gum, in which a skinny nerd who chews the product revives a fainted beach bunny with a kiss, when hunky lifeguards fail. In the final shot, she holds him aloft in her arms in yet another Euro gender bend. He's also got a funny French spot for Mapa rubber gloves, in which a dog pulls on the glove, stretches it across the room, then takes off like a slingshot. McCallion is pigeonhole-proof, with work in just about every category, but is he the only U.K. guy so deeply into the French and Spanish markets? Probably, he chuckles. "Things have happened very >40 quickly for me. I'm seeing the best scripts in France now, and the best scripts here are very, very good. I moved to Paris for the sheer joy of it, and once I was here the work picked up."
But why so little U.K. work? "I would argue that the two best agencies in London are BBH and Howell Henry, both of which have sent me big scripts for big brands recently, and I went with the Citroen Saxo job over those." He has shot for Howell Henry in the past (Red Mountain coffee), though he's never worked with BBH or Leagas Delaney, for example, but all in good time, he says. "All the seeds are sown, I just have to make the right choices and do the right jobs."
He's planning to move back to London eventually and get more involved in that market, and he expects to make inroads in the States before too long as well. "I'm very interested in working in the States, I've seen scripts from there, but I'm taking my time about it," he says. "I don't have this urge to grab the world by the balls and be shooting everywhere at the same time. I'm seeing enough good stuff here to keep me here, but someday I'll be in New York."
Where he'll have to explain that odd first name. Is it not uncommon in Ireland? "It's very uncommon, indeed," he says. "I'm named after a little-known Welsh saint of green areas and parks. But I hate nature, and if there's a tree in my shot, I say, 'Cut that fucking thing down or I move the camera.' And my middle name is weird, too," he continues. "It's Columbo, I'm named after the TV show, I had a cousin who had a bit part in a few episodes. He didn't amount to anything, though. The last time I saw him he was playing pinball."
Despite this TV tie-in, on the subject of influences McCallion is short, sweet and strictly celluloid: "Kubrick, Kubrick and Kubrick. Never mind the usual names like Scorsese and Coppola, though they're great. I see a huge amount of cinema, and I watch telly maybe three hours per year. I don't have the time to