Directed by Edwin Mullane
Angela is a domestic cleaner who keeps herself to herself. Mairead is a houseproud mother who, more often than not, finds herself alone at home with the children. When a mundane household accident forces Angela to add emergency childminding to her list of duties, a friendship begins between employer and employee. As the relationship blooms, they begin to discover that there may be more that bonds them together than just loneliness. But is this just another work-based transaction, or does it mean something else?
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‘Cleaner’ is Edwin Mullane’s debut short as a film director. His work as an actor on stage and screen includes THE FETCH WILSON and multi-award winning short WHERE STILL WATERS LIE. He is co-founder and current artistic director of Dublin based theatre company, the Corps Ensemble.
Creator’s Statement | Lesley Conroy
As a writer I’m interested in placing the complexity of the post 40s female experience at the heart of the narrative to effect rather than explain.
‘Cleaner’ began as a gentle meditation on the relationship between a domestic cleaner and her employer. During the script development period I found myself actively resisting committing to a fixed script, trusting that the story would discover itself in the moment on set and in the editing process, taking a leap of faith into the creative unknown.
Following extensive conversations with director, producer and cast, a skeleton of the script was put in place. The limitations of the humble budget, 2-day shoot and single location providing an expanse of imaginative freedom and improvisation as we worked. Placing the children out of the picture but firmly within the world of piece allowed the two female leads take centre stage as they navigate their growing friendship as a salve for their mutual loneliness. Discovering an abandoned treehouse in the location’s garden also proved fortuitous, allowing us to lean into a realm of innocence and purity at the apex of the film before the point of no return.
The initial impulse behind ‘Cleaner’ was to investigate the class divide and the Matthew effect of abundance and lack on human nature. However, the film revealed so much more. Its liveness and truth came more from the author’s vision rather than hand and the gift of a collaborative improvisational approach, leading to a haunting meditation on the universal need for connection, the lengths some go to protect their loneliness, others to avoid it and the liminal space between.
Director’s Statement | Edwin Mullane
When Lesley first approached me to collaborate on Cleaner, I was immediately struck by the gentle tragedy of the script and the subtle and beautiful characters that she had created. After many conversations and workshopping, it became clear that this project needed to be met by an approach that was going to enable the characters to live and develop on set and eventually on screen. We hoped that working in this way would allow for them to ‘dance’ and we trusted that capturing their relationship in a simple and truthful way would allow the viewer connect on an imaginative and emotional level.