Top of the pile! The International Horror Hotel Film Fest: Scoring Competition 

A first place finish! My first ever as regards to scoring, so permit me to milk it a little.

Back in 2019, I entered my first ever scoring competition and it was this very one. It has since changed ownership recently enough, but I was feeling nostalgic so I went in search of my laurel. )I finished 9th place, which I was delighted with. Not bad for a first timer. And yes, I always celebrate the small stuff - we only live once.

Anyway upon my return to the site, I became aware it had been given a massive overhaul and had come under new management. I also noticed they were still running a scoring competition. This competition takes a random horror film, which can be a classic / indie or lower budget and provides a trailer for you to score. There are no rules on instruments, orchestration. It is left entirely up to the composer's discretion and then you get to work.

This year's trailer was ‘Leviticus’ or the alternate title which gave me a chuckle due to it's lack of subtlety and tongue firmly in cheek ‘LGBT: Lethal Gay Butcher of Terror’. It's an intriguing premise. A masked serial killer is terrorising and murdering men in the gay community. And a detective is put on the case, who as it happens is a member of the LGBTQ community.

I only found out yesterday that I had won, as news is filtering out. And I'm still not 100 percent as to when I can share it but I'm hoping to, very soon.

I do believe that I have used certain characteristics of a sound, that I could term “my own”. Straddling the lines of orchestral and Industrial / metal sounds. Similiar to 'The Last Illusion'. Growing into my own, if you will. 

Right now, I'm happy to stop and smell the roses. I hope I can share with you soon.

Thanks for reading,






Looking back on composing for "Am Fear Líath". 



It was the tail end of July into August 2023, that I first came into contact with Pauric Brennan, director of “Am Fear Liath”. I'd joined a queue of hopefuls interested in scoring his film which had entered the post production stages, replying to his call for a composer.

I was pretty inexperienced, but always confident in my abilities This was a feature length and after he'd informed me there was a few applications to get through, I'd half resigned myself to the fact that maybe this wasn't a gig I was gonna get. It's pretty crowded out in media composer land. Especially with the onset of ready made loops and midi packs which has led to an explosion of absolute chancers out there with maybe a thimble full of talent, jumping on the bandwagon. But, I'm a chancer myself. Granted, I've put the hard yards in and given myself a crash course in music writing and production over the last 20 years.

Needless to say I was shocked and delighted to hear I was the preferred candidate. And through video chats and messages, I got to know more about this guy, who has his finger consistently on the pulse and doesn't seem to stop. Between writing, producing and directing, it was clear his love for the arts knew no bounds and he was very clear about what he needed from me, what worked and what didn't. Doing the homework, I viewed his works and was hugely impressed particularly with “Don't Sell Me A Dog”. I highly recommend checking his work out.

I'd previously had a pretty big project fall flat and end up in post production hell, in which I worked with a director who was practically uncontactable, not answering emails and was never at the other end of his phone. My fears were immediately put to rest with Pauric. He clearly loves what he does and was always available if I needed his opinion or approval and what's more, it was a brilliant collaborative process. The greatest piece of advice I got was “Have fun with it”. That immediately put me at ease. It told me that my director trusted me and thus, it was so much fun to write for “Am Fear Liath”. Which in turn was already great fun to watch, before I'd even stepped into my studio!

Now it's April 2024 and the film is streaming on PRIME in Ireland & The UK and TUBI TV in the Americas. It's also picked up some awards along the way! I'm very proud to have played my part in the production of this film, and I look forward to hopefully working with Pauric in the future.

And I'll always be thankful he saw (or heard) something that made him take a chance on this guy. 

I have released a short compilation OST to “Am Fear Liath”, which is available to stream or buy on BANDCAMP or SPOTIFY but I highly recommend you watch the film first!

As always, thank you for reading. Take care.

(Director at work. The photo features left to right Andy Yule, Pauric Brennan, Siobhan Aislinn and Mark Agar.)

#amfearliathmovie #indiefilmakers #philmccleanmusic #pauricbrennan #brenenterprises #filmcomposer

Magic Month. 

October always feels magic. It's my favourite time of year. Samhain draws in and spooky season really begins. I love those witchy forest walks, just before twilight hits and the changing light tricks the eye into seeing things…..

Having completed the score to my first feature length film*, which I loved - I dove headfirst into October.

I have been working hard on a special project which I can't really divulge any details yet. Bar the music I have written is amongst the most unusual for me. As it is coming from a “Scandi-noir” place, which is more about texture and mood, than a melodic place. Not that I didn't get to flex a little melodic muscle either!

This project, you can tell it's coming from a group of very talented people who clearly love what they do and want to create something special. I was very lucky to be invited on the project, and as is the way with the composers, I arrived post production. And was hugely impressed with what I was presented with. As such it made my job easier with the presentation and as a result, the inspiration that followed. As previously stated, I can't really share anything more with you but I am excited to share all, once I get the nod!

In other news, “Hangin' On The Line” was officially selected amongst the nominees for “Best Music Video” category. On my 40th birthday, no less! It feels unusual that my film making skills are under the microscope, as opposed to my musical ones and I won't deny the degree of pride knowing this video was filmed in a box room with a RealMe C21 android phone. November 26th is D-Day. I have no idea if it will make it any further along in the process. But for now, I'll enjoy my little 15 minutes of fame, as it were.

Magic month indeed.

*"Am Fear Liath" which is in post production from Bren Enterprises. It also feels pretty damn special, and we are trés excited! We have a blog about this incoming soon.



STAR WARS or "These Aren't The Droids You're Looking For". 

Some time ago, I was approached by a talented actor friend with the idea of creating music for a Star Wars type “proof of concept” trailer. 

First thought was "John Williams - the guy is a living genius. I couldn't clean those shoes, never mind attempt to wear them. But I was still intrigued. I'm a Star Wars fan to begin with, and the only way you could hope to measure yourself as an artist / sportsperson etc, is to attempt to tangle with the best. And of course, in terms of sheer, epic, cinematic scale - Williams is the godfather.

Yes, Hans Zimmer is the current standard bearer (and a brilliant one at that), but even he will tell you that Williams is the benchmark.

The idea was straightforward: “A hero rises from the ashes / memorable melodic music / the big bad”. I won't get into detailed technicalities as I'm unsure if there will be developments in the future, but COVID did what it will and the world shut down. In the meantime, my wife and I took a messy trip through adoption territory which seemed to imply a “halcyon days” ending, but every time we took a step forward, we seemed to be pushed several back. It was a form of psychological torture. Topped with the emotional toll of working through the pandemic and the genuinely devastating death of our beloved dog, Norma Jean…. I stopped enjoying music.

Fast forward to now, and I've rediscovered a certain joy in the music I have created. So much so, I'm revisiting and touching up the 3 piece movement which I have named (*winks) “These Aren't The Droids You're Looking For.” Part I: The Jedi, part II: The Duel, part III: The Dark Side.

I'm currently in the process of creating a video for social media, for the purposes of hearing and sharing the piece. I'm also considering entering one or two competitions with it. The question is, oh reader: Does anybody out there actually want to hear it?


It's been a little quiet. 

Hey. I'm still alive this side. And it's been a pretty topsy, turvy few months. We have felt the highs and some pretty damning lows. I guess we are almost at the other side of them. Nothing too personal I wish to share here, but I can only assure you - I wouldn't wish the lows we've had on anybody.

I'm really only getting back to making music again now. Maybe it was all the distractions, lack of inspiration or even interest. It's a funny old game, is life. I'll check back in soon. Thank you for checking in here. I hope you're keeping healthy and happy.

Why so serious? 

I've recently been checking out my competition's websites. It's good for comparison's sake. You can pick up ideas, appreciate how far you have to go and find out what makes them tick. But there is one thing that is a common denominator: In their photos, they look completely miserable. 

The majority of these seem to be generally Berklee / Julliard grads. I always thought having that kind of educational clout behind you, you'd be a happy camper, proud as punch. I'd scream it from the rooftops. Frame it on the wall! College was never an option for me. I never aspired to it. I generally hated my school years. They were boring, I often felt like an idiot and therefore had no drive to learn. I was in many ways, the quintessential "Weird Kid". The only good thing I brought with me from school, was a couple of close friends.

And to those who did it, more power to them. They should be rightly proud of their achievements. But back to these moody 80's band style photos. Many composers seem to be unable to crack a smile, even their eyes bear no hint of emotional salience. So I tried a few moody pictures myself, but not too serious. Here's an example...

There's a little levity behind my eyes. I'm not exactly smirking, but there's definitely a sense of humour there. I don't want to look completely unapproachable!

I can understand actors having these types of photos. It's all about range. But I don't see why composers (not all of them do it, of course) feel the need to plaster photos which just make them appear uncomfortable, depressed and / or constipated. Maybe it helps them be taken more seriously. Or maybe that's how they wish to perceive themselves.

I won't post any of the guilty parties' photos but here's Tears for Fears, doing a pretty spot on impression of what I'm talking about...

Not knocking the band. It was always their "thing" and they've released some cracking songs to boot. This is just similar to the visual wares many of these composers post on their website. So, why so serious? I may give it a lash myself.

EDIT: My wife, full of wisdom and more smarts than I (College kid, y'know?) has just informed me as these composers tend to be Berklee and Julliard graduates and all, they clearly have a mountain of student debt to their names. "You'd be f***in' miserable too, Phil."

There endeth the lesson.


Couple more moody pictures here, as I contemplate the nature of student debt. And strange camera angles. 

Thanks for reading folks. Stay healthy, be happy.

The Jerry Goldsmith Awards - A Christmas Miracle 





A very Happy Christmas and New Year (or your own preferred holiday sentiment / celebration) to you! Been a long time since I've updated this, but let me tell you of my very strange Christmas evening, but first we must journey back almost two years to the creation of "The Last Illusion".

I knew I'd created something, a little different. It sounded different, it felt different. It felt like mine. It had a personal stamp on it. Like listening to a popular artist and you know, immediately because of the way they sound, that it's them. True, it wasn't for everyone - but that's okay. I write music for me. Around the same time I saw an advertisement for The Jerry Goldsmith Awards whilst googling that particular legend's works to add to my Spotify, and decided with some Dutch courage, The Last Illusion deserved to be considered in the FREE CREATION category. I filled out the necessary documentation and sent it off, laughing to myself and yet patting myself on the back for having the guts to do it.

Long story short, COVID 19 hit and that was that. I didn't hear anything after and thought "Fair dues, young Philip - you still had the guts to send it." Then, completely forgot about it. Mind you, I have already been blessed this year, having placed second in The Cue Tube's General Composition category for "I Catch You". 

Christmas evening 2022, the JGA had updated their nominees in all categories and released the top 10 for consideration. I went into the lists and see a literal icon in Philip Glass, Hollywood big hitters such as Natalie Holt for "Loki", Jeff Russo for "Fargo". My eyes moved through the various categories, until I nearly spat my Guinness out when I spotted a name in the FREE CREATION category. Phil McClean: The Last Illusion. I paused for a second, to double check that it wasn't a cruel combined trick of the evening half light and my Guinness. Then I looked at my wife, eyes wide. "F*** off, f*** off, f*** OFF!!!"

Once I'd calmed down and she'd cleared up that nobody had died or wronged me in some way, she was just as surprised and delighted as I was. 

Naturally, the imposter syndrome is strong. I have received no formal music education bar playing truant from my secondary school music class and being advised that music probably wasn't for me as my recorder skills were extremely limited. My real love with music began when I bought a bass in my late teens and attempted to learn Korn songs, and writing my own with my dear friend Tom. But I have decided that I'm not an imposter, and I will endeavor to try and not feel like one. I have been checking up on my fellow nominees in the FREE CREATION category and the talent is out of this world. To be even selected in the top 10 is enough to make any person blush with pride, especially considering the quality of works mine is measured against. I don't know what's going to happen further down the line as regards ceremony etc, but I will enjoy this moment in the spotlight. Regardless how short the duration it shines on me.



"Something Outside". 


First things first. Apologies for the low quality - but this was never meant to make it as a final published piece!


This is from a low quality video file that I'd filmed on a mobile phone as a sort of a motion storyboard for "Backyard Gothic". A project I long struggled to keep going before and throughout COVID. But I think it best for my (and my crew's) mental health - we just leave it alone. I found this rooting through an old hard drive and thought it effective enough to stand on it's own for comedy and an effective "JUMP SCARE". A big thank you to Paul Dempsey, Patrick May. Also to Denika McClean and Susan Dempsey for effective hairdryer skills (both verbal and actual) on what was easily one of the funnier nights I'll have behind a camera.

Tom Waits Appreciation Post. 

"I hate him", "Jesus, that's dark" or "What the hell is that?". Generally most of the responses I get towards playing Tom Waits. But I can't help but love what the guy does. He is just unlike anything that came before (or indeed after) and that is the true beauty of it. Artists as diverse as Bette Midler to Primus appreciate this. His songs are known by millions and a majority of them are better known through other artists. How I discovered him, could almost be a Tom Waits song in itself.

I worked nights in a retail unit in the early noughties and myself and a co worker had snuck out the back of the warehouse to have a cheeky cigarette at about four in the morning. The co worker in question was definitely an individual with diminished mental capacity and nowadays, sadly, can be seen in a semi permanent state of unemployed intoxication about the town. 

He always brought his radio in to play old cassettes of odd sounds and songs from the radio that recorded in the wee hours. As we sat on the old loading ramp, my ears were drawn to the lyrics, delivered by a raspy, ancient sounding drawl: 

"He had a bullet proof smile 
 He had money to burn 
 She thought she had the moon 
 In her pocket 

But now she's dead 
She's so dead 
Forever dead and lovely now"

"Who's that?!" I inquired. "Tom Waits." And I was sold. I went home and stayed awake, knowing my local music shop was open at ten. I went in and bought "Real Gone". It was the only CD they had, which incidentally had "Dead & Lovely" on it as it had been just released. I wore that CD out, It was on repeat for weeks. Every song was better than the one before. Naturally, I went through the back catalogue which as anyone who knows Tom Waits more recent stuff, was a shock to venture further past "SwordFishTrombones" but no less brilliant. Even crazier to know he was responsible for writing "Tom Traubert's Blues", "Jersey Girl" and "Downtown Train" to name a few. Most reassuring, is that you never feel ALONE with Tom Waits. If you feel down, depressed - you always felt, at some point - he was there in that position too. In his own way, he makes loneliness beautiful. Not that all the songs are depressing. There are some absolute bangers in there coupled with countless monologues! He is the reason for my noir inspired journeys through my own musical journey, at times

I am pretty sure Tom Waits' songs have saved many lives and changed even more...

Happy birthday, Tom. And thanks for the music. Never stop.