In the run-up to this year’s Dublin Web Festival, we decided to check in with some of last year’s attendees to get an idea of what they’ve been up to since the festival!This week the multi-talented writer, director, actor and producer Sally McLean got in touch with us to talk about her project, Shakespeare Republic.

Dublin Web Fest: Hey Sally! For anyone who doesn’t know you, could you tell us a bit about yourself?

Sally McLean

Sally McLean: Hello! I’m Sally McLean and I’m an actor, writer, director, producer (we’re called “slashies” now apparently), and the creator and director of the web series Shakespeare Republic (among other things!).

DWF: Could you go a bit into the production process of Shakespeare Republic?

Sally McLean: Shakespeare Republic is very much a collaborative process. Cast will come to me with ideas for pieces they want to do and together we work out what’s the best fit for them and the series as a whole.  In some cases, particularly with those who haven’t done a lot of Shakespeare, I choose the piece for the actor, based on conversations with them about what they are passionate about, what they want to say to the world, or just what kind of character they’d like to play.  We then rehearse as much as possible before filming, delving into the text and moulding the way the episode will play on screen before hitting set.I have to say that I couldn’t do the work without my core production team of Shaun Herbertson (Cinematographer), Tim McCormick (Sound Operator and Sound Editor) and Thanassi Panagiotaras (Editing and Colourist).  As well as my co-Exec Producer, Billy Smedley (who is also in the cast).  All the cast and crew who worked on both seasons are amazing and I have been so lucky to work with such talented and dedicated people!



The Bard

Season One was very much an experiment and shot on no money, so we filmed those six episodes over a period of three months, grabbing a day when cast and crew required were available.  We had a range of cinematographers and cameras and there was no clear connection between each episode, other than playing Shakespeare.

Season Two had a little more cash behind it due to a grant, a few sponsorships and two successful crowdfunding campaigns, so it meant we could dedicate a block of time to shoot everything and could expand to 13 episodes for the new season.  We ended up shooting 75 minutes over 10 days in two blocks – one 2 day block in August and then a full 8 day block in September. The schedule meant that we occasionally shot two episodes a day, which was intense, but I have such an amazing cast and crew, which meant that we got everything we needed and only ran over schedule one day by half an hour, which was extraordinary!

Season Two is much more interconnected between episodes than Season One.  Characters appear in other episodes besides their main one.  We only used four locations for all 13 eps, so that also provides a connecting theme.  We also had the one Cinematographer (Shaun Herbertson, who shot two eps in Season One), and shot the whole thing on a RED camera.  Season Two is also built to be a longer form screen project which shows a day in the life of 13 Shakespeare characters living in the modern world.

Season Two post production took three months, and we were editing and colouring later episodes while releasing earlier ones – that was intense!  I edited the first four episodes and then our wonderful Editor and Cololurist, Thanassi Panagiotaras came on board, so I only had to edit to rough cut for the rest and then he’d step in and cut to fine cut as well as making everything “look pretty” as I would say in the edit suite!


On the set of Shakespeare Republic

DWF: Are you working on any projects at the moment?

Sally: I am in the midst of prepping to film the last elements for my feature documentary, “Champion” (about the well-known Austrian, Franz Stampfl, who coached Roger Bannister to break the 4 Minute Mile and became Australia’s first professional Athletics coach) before going into post-production, as well as going into development for Season Three of Shakespeare Republic and a new television series that I have also written.


DWF: How did you hear about DWF?

Sally: When submitting Season One into festivals last year, I naturally began researching where to submit and came across Dublin Web Fest online.  Reading up on the festival in various articles and blogs and seeing how great the festival was the year before and how it’s reputation was growing so strongly on the circuit, as well as loving Dublin (we filmed there for my feature documentary and I’ve visited a few times for holidays and love the city), and having direct Irish ancestry, it was a no-brainer for me to submit Season One and hope we were selected.  So I was over the moon when we were!

DWF: Finally, did you attend the festival last year?

Sally: Sadly, I didn’t manage to get to Dublin for the festival last year.  I was planning to, but we were deep in post-production for Season Two and I just couldn’t get away from Australia – there just wasn’t enough of a window in the schedule.  I was so disappointed!  Especially as Michala Banas was nominated for Best Actress for the series that year!  Erol was amazing with communication and keeping us in the loop in the lead up and several other creators got in touch with me via social media.  I was being promised Guinness and all sorts to come over by fellow content makers, which I would have loved!!  But it just wasn’t to be.  Needless to say, I am planning to get there this year, even if we don’t make the festival cut.  Everyone seemed to have so much fun and had such a great experience there last year and I don’t want to miss out experiencing that in person!