John Carney examines his musical past and where he goes after ‘Begin Again’

John Carney's newest movie, “Begin Again,” is very much a related work to his 2007 Oscar-winning film, “Once.”  The films may not exist within the same world, but coming from the same mind as they do, they tackle some of the same subjects and have a similar feel.

For its part, “Begin Again” stars Keira Knightley, Mark Ruffalo, and Adam Levine.   It focuses on a musician (Knightley) who tries to record an album with a formerly successful record executive (Ruffalo) after she is left by her fellow musician boyfriend (Levine).   That makes the cast and characters different from “Once,” but that, as with “Begin Again,” centers on musicians playing on the street and recording an album.

When Carney sat down with us to spend a few minutes talking about the film, he made it clear that he didn't have any real fears going back to the musical well once more.  He knew he was looking at similar subjects, but it wasn't a fear that held him back and he doesn't feel as though it will hold him back from doing another musical in the future.

“I think that probably what's going to happen is that I'm going to end up doing seven or eight musical films,” Carney said.  He  added, “They'll all be cousins, but they're not 'companion pieces' in that they're not directly connected in any way.”  The movies each do (or will) exist in their own separate worlds.

Currently, Carney is working on a film, “Sing Street,” set in Dublin about a young man in a school who forms a band.   The writer-director sees “Sing Street” as the next movie in this series of musicals which will eventually populate his filmography.  Set to be distributed by The Weinstein Company here in the United States, the movie also counts Bono and The Edge amongst its producers.

As for what other movies in the series may look like, Carney said that he likes the idea floated by Knightley's character in “Begin Again” featuring a band going around Europe by rail and recording songs all over.  He described it as “A mad Linklater sort of project.” 

He may only have been spitballing that last idea during our chat, but audiences might get to see such a film anyway.  As he was finishing the thought, he paused momentarily, and one could almost see the gears turning as he worked out what such a film could look like.

Perhaps tellingly, Carney ended that thought with a nod and saying, “In fact, I kind of like that idea actually.”

Music is an important thing for the director, a big facet of his life.  He has, he said, made life decisions based on the music that was playing at the time.

“I see music as… not just as sort of an entertainment or as a thing to put your headphones in and sort of jog to,” Carney explained.  Continuing, he said, “I see it as a very valuable component of our lives.”

Currently in select theaters, “Begin Again” expands on July 11th.