John McPhail (director)

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John McPhail
Glasgow, Scotland
Alma materRoyal Conservatoire of Scotland
OccupationFilm director, screenwriter
Years active2008–present
Notable work

John McPhail is a Scottish film director and screenwriter.

Life and career[edit]

McPhail studied Cinematography at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. During his time there he met and formed a close working relationship with Tyler Collins and Andrew Lanni. After graduating from the Conservatoire he worked on the BBC television series Waterloo Road and was assistant camera operator on the film Up There by Zam Salim.

In 2013 he formed his own production company Worrying Drake Productions and produced a trilogy of short films with Collins and Lanni to produce a trilogy of short comedy films; Notes was a romantic comedy about a pair of roommates whose relationship develops through a series of post it notes. V for Visa and Doug & Steve's Big Holy Adventure completed the comedy trilogy. V for Visa had its North American premiere at Robert De Niro's TriBeCa Film Centre in New York as part of the Bootleg Film Festival.[1] The film went on to win the Best Director accolade at the festival.

His short 3 minute film Just Say Hi about a blossoming romance between a boy and a girl who meet every morning at a bus stop made it through to the top 13 out of a short list of 250 films in the Virgin Media Shorts competition. Judge Robbie Collin of the Daily Telegraph said that Just Say Hi was:

"One of the sweetest payoffs I’ve seen in any rom-com this year."[2]

The film won 2 out of the 3 awards available at the festival making McPhail the first director in the competition's history to win multiple awards. The film was later picked up by the Très Court International Film Festival where it was screened in over 100 cities in 23 countries.[3] McPhail launched a crowdfunding campaign to help fund his first feature film Where Do We Go From Here?, raising £10,630 in two months.[4] Production began in the summer of 2014 with McPhail directing the film in 16 days in various location across Scotland including Falkirk, Alloa, Coatbridge, Glasgow and Loch Lomond. Speaking of his experience filming the feature to Impulse Magazine, McPhail said:

"It was the single best experience of my life. I didn’t eat or sleep for two and a bit weeks but I wouldn’t have changed it for the world."[5]

The film was shown at the Cluj Comedy Film Festival in Romania which McPhail attended along with producer Lauren Lamarr. In late October 2015, the film was screened at the Sydney Indie Film Festival where it was nominated for 7 awards. Unable to attend the awards ceremony, McPhail was represented by a friend who happened to be travelling around Australia at the time.[6] The film picked up three awards at the festival for Best Score, Best Supporting Actress and Best Film. "[7]}}

In 2016, McPhail met with Nicholas Crum and Naysun Alae-Carew of Blazing Griffin about the possibility of directing their feature length musical film, Anna and the Apocalypse.[8] The film based on the short film Zombie Musical by the late writer Ryan McHenry, tells the story of Anna and her school mates in their bid to survive a sudden zombie apocalypse which descends on their town in the run up to Christmas. A horror fan with John Carpenter considered as one of his biggest film influences[9], McPhail accepted the offer and filming began later that year in Greenock in Scotland.[10]

Anna and the Apocalypse had its world premiere at Fantastic Fest on September 22, 2017 with many of the films cast and crew in attendance.[11] The film had its UK premiere as part of the 2018 Edinburgh International Film Festival and was listed as one of the top 5 must see films by the Scotsman Newspaper.[12]. Anna and the Apocalypse was amongst the nominees for Best Feature Film, and best actress for Ella Hunt at the 2018 British Academy Scotland Awards.[13]



Year Film Credited as Additional Roles Notes
Director ScreenWriter Camera Film Editor
2008 Battlestar Galactica: By Your Command Yes
2010 Wiped Yes
Dear Mom Yes
I Love Luci Yes Daily Camera Trainee
2012 Up There Yes Assistant Camera
2013 Notes Yes Yes Producer
V for Visa Yes Yes
Just Say Hi Yes Yes Yes Actor - Norbert
2014 Take It Back and Start All Over Yes First Assistant Director
Broken Record Colourist
2015 Where Do We Go From Here? Yes Yes Yes Executive Producer
Actor - Dog Poo Man
Aviatrix Yes Assistant Director
2017 Anna and the Apocalypse Yes


Year Title Director Role Notes
2012-2013 Waterloo Road Various Assistant Camera 6 Episodes
2015 Metalhedz Himself Director 1 Episode
2016 The Crews Colin Ross Smith Cinematographer 10 Episodes


Year Nominated Work Awards Category Result
2013 Just Say Hi Virgin Media Short Awards The TiVo Award Won
The Nikon People's Choice Award Won
Notes Bootleg Film Festival Edinburgh Best Scottish Film Won
Roughcut Audience Choice Award Won
Aberfeldy Film Festival Palme-Dewar Audience Choice Award Won
2014 Notes Ayr International Film Festival Best Director Won
Audience Choice Award Won
V for Visa Bootleg Film Festival NYC Best Director Won
Just Say Hi The Scottish Short Film Festival Audience Choice Award Won
Aberfeldy Film Festival Palme-Dewar Audience Choice Award Won
2015 Where Do We Go From Here? Sydney Indie Film Festival Best Film
(Shared with Andrew Lanni and Lauren Lamarr)
Best Editing Nominated
Just Say Hi Loch Ness Film Festival Best Micro Short Won
2016 Where Do We Go From Here? Bay Street Film Festival People's Choice Award Won
Blue Whiskey Independent Film Festival Best Director Won
Blow-Up Chicago International Arthouse Film Fest Best Comedy
(Shared with Andrew Lanni and Lauren Lamarr)
2017 Anna and the Apocalypse Rondo Hatton Classic Horror Awards Best Independent Film Nominated
2018 Edinburgh International Film Festival Audience Award Nominated
British Academy Scotland Awards Best Feature Film
(Shared with Naysun Alae-Carew, Nicholas Crum, and Alan McDonald)


  1. ^ "Scots film goes on show in de Niro's cinema". Glasgow Evening Times. 21 September 2013. Retrieved 21 September 2013.
  2. ^ Collin, Robbie (11 September 2013). "Virgin Media Shorts film competition shortlist: 'more energy and wit than many feature-length films'" – via
  3. ^ s.r.o., Burn IT,. "IFP -- Francouzský institut v Praze - Úvod".
  4. ^ "Where Do We Go From Here? Crowd Funding Campaign". Indiegogo.
  5. ^ Impulse Magazine Archived 19 November 2015 at the Wayback Machine.
  6. ^ "Glasgow Film-maker John McPhail picks up three awards at Sydney Indie Film Festival". Glasgow Evening Times. 4 December 2015. Retrieved 4 December 2015.
  7. ^ "Profile: Scottish romantic comedy Where Do We Go From Here? storms Australian film festival". The National.
  9. ^ "Edinburgh 2018 Interview: Director John McPhail on Christmas Zombie Musical ANNA AND THE APOCALYPSE". Screen Anarchy.
  10. ^ "Zombie flick filmed at old Port school". Greenock Telegraph.
  11. ^ Waldo, Barry (9 August 2017). "Zombie musical Anna and the Apocalypse to get World Premiere at Fantastic Fest". Creative Scotland. Retrieved 14 August 2017.
  12. ^ "Five must-see movies at this year's Edinburgh International Film Festival". The Scotsman Newspaper.
  13. ^ "British Academy Scotland Awards: Nominees in 2018". BAFTA. Retrieved 2018-09-26.

External links[edit]