FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION
IFTA AWARDS 2024
Lie of the Land
Plagued by financial ruin, Kath and Matthew Ward realise their farming days are numbered. Enter Gabriel Shepherd, a charismatic stranger who offers to deliver the Wards a life abroad, escaping their debts - for a fee. But when a last minute change of heart strikes, the Wards find themselves in a deadly game of survival as they fight to save the home they were they so ready to abandon.
Director: John Carlin Writer: Tara Hegarty Producers: Margaret McGoldrick, Chris Patterson
Q: What was the genesis of this film, and how did it evolve over the course of development to production and completion?
- John Carlin (Director): "The film originated as a short radio play and was later developed by the writer into a feature length thriller. Over the course of development, the bones of the story remained largely intact, due to both the producers and I really believing in it right from the start. Personally, I see it as a love story of a broken couple who, when faced with a threat, realise that together they are stronger. So, this was very much the direction I wanted to take it in. Together we worked through a few ideas before I decided to blend the thriller elements with classic horror, based on my belief the situation our two lead characters find themselves in would be instantly recognisable and terrifying to the majority of audiences. Butmost of these elements were already somewhat contained in the very strong original script so in truth we didn’t really need to defer too greatly from it during the development phase and through to completion, rather just enhance and embellish these."
- Tara Hegarty (Writer): "The film is based on my BBC Radio 4 Radio play, ‘The Crossing’ Which is essentially the first act of the feature. Since the radio play was released these kinds of schemes and scams which prey on aging and vulnerable people have unfortunately become more and more pervasive and pernicious. I wanted to see more of the couple’s reaction, and I always felt they wouldn’t go down without a fight, and it’s clear from the completed film, that they certainly had plenty of fight left in them. "
Q: What do you hope audiences will take away from the film?
- John: "Primarily, what I hope audiences take from ‘Lie of the Land’, is that they were fully entertained from start to finish. Keeping the audience’s attention is always the main aim, so I endeavoured to tell a solid story in a way that doesn’t linger or waste time. Feeding small bits of plot as we go, with a few shocks, surprises….and even laughs along the way! I hope that audiences like and appreciate this and that, quite simply, they enjoyed the journey from beginning to end."
- Tara: "The film is a new twist on the Home Invasion genre exploring themes of love and duty, aging, and community. Many of the audience members, especially the older viewers will understand exactly what it’s like to be the target of a scam and I hope that there is a certain amount of wish fulfilment for them as this feisty aging couple go head-to-head with this dangerous stranger. "
- Barry John Kinsella (Actor): "I hope audiences enjoy the thrilling ride the film takes you on and that they relish seeing two more mature characters kick ass. It's not all about the young ones..."
- Ali White (Actor): "I hope the characters and story totally hook them. I hope they’ll be drawn in by the tensions between Kath and Matthew, seduced by the charms of Gabriel and then thrilled and horrified as the events of the night unfold. (I hope they’ll laugh too.) I hope as well that they’ll get a sense of the real world of the film – the isolation, and vulnerability of farmers like the Wards, and how characters like Shepherd can manipulate and prey on them.
- Chris Patterson (Producer): "This film proves it's never too late to stand up for yourself. Rarely do mature characters take centre stage as action heroes. Never underestimate the power of love."
- Abe Smyth (Actor): "I think there's a lot going on with this film thanks to Tara Hegarty's fantastic script but the main thing I hope is people have fun with the film. Even though there are some serious themes being discussed it's still a thrill ride.
Q: What’s the most interesting/inspiring piece of feedback you’ve received from people who have seen the film?
- Barry: "At Galway, the audience started cheering when my character reached the culmination of his arc. Playing the antagonist of the film, this was the best feedback I've ever gotten! With the whole film itself, it's seeing and hearing members of the farming community and older audiences connect to the fears of isolation and ruin, but then receiving the cathartic release towards the end of the journey. People giving me such a wide berth after the film ended is also strange, but it amplifies how visceral the film is and how involved the audience can get."
- Tara: "The film connected with a range of people, especially those who are from a rural background or those who have experienced this kind of isolation. A lot of women connected with. Kath, played so elegantly by Ali White, and they were happy to see a mature female lead who was more than capable of standing up for herself."
Q: Why is it important to see your work represented at the IFTAs and to be acknowledged by your peers in the Irish film community?
- Barry: "Our industry can feel isolating at times, particularly as an actor. The IFTA's bring everyone together to celebrate the enviable width and depth of Irish screen work; the IFTA's help us all enjoy the ride, because there is no rehearsal!"
- Ali: "We shot our low budget film in just 18 days last February, in a freezing muddy farm outside Ballymena. It seemed a very long way from the IFTAs! But Tara Hegarty’s script was superb, John Carlin the director was inspirational, and the actors I was lucky enough to work with - Nigel O’Neill, Barry John Kinsella, Abe Smith and Paddy Jenkins - were all superb. Everyone involved gave their absolute all. I’m very proud that thanks to the IFTAs, our film will have the chance to be considered by the finest filmmakers and actors in Ireland – people who themselves have inspired me for years."
- John: "To have ‘Lie of the Land’ nominated in a category of the IFTAs would be a huge privilege and achievement. I started this journey 25 years ago and it’s taken a lot of time, effort, sacrifice and hard work to get where I am today, and to, I feel, have earned the opportunity to be allowed to tell this story. To have my peers appreciate and acknowledge the film would be the ultimate honour and prove to myself and others that all the extremely hard work is recognised and therefore worth it."
- Chris: "As a founding member of IFTA, it has been a longstanding goal to see a Causeway-produced project nominated. To be acknowledged by my peers in the Irish film community would be invaluable. It would be a testament to the hard work and dedication of everyone involved and be incredibly inspiring and humbling to receive this kind of recognition for our work."
Q: Can you speak to the growth in the Irish film industry in recent years and how it helped your film get off the ground?
- John: "Ireland as a whole has been creating some of the most astonishing and brilliant films and television in recent years. The fact that they are now being recognised internationally at awards festivals is no surprise to me. We are an island of storytellers and as the industry has grown so has the world class crew available to bring these stories to life. NI Screen have been operating a scheme for a number of years now called ‘New Talent Focus’ which gives first time directors, producers and writers the opportunity to make a feature film. This wouldn’t happen without the hard work of the film boards in Ireland bringing in huge international projects that have trained our crews to compete with the best in the world. And now we are able to reap the rewards and tell our own stories on a global scale. "
- James Everett (Composer): "Without the funding from NI Screen or Screen Ireland, I don’t think I’d have a career or at least it would have been incredibly harder to get a foot hold in the industry. Northern Ireland Screen’s New Talent Focus has been pivotal to getting my career going and helping build relationships with filmmakers as their careers have grown."