FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION
IFTA AWARDS 2024
The Last Rifleman
World War II veteran Artie Crawford lives in a care home in Northern Ireland. After his wife's death, he decides to ignore all advice and sets off alone to France to attend the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings.
Director: Terry Loane Writer: Kevin Fitzpatrick Producers: Katy Jackson, John Leslie
What was the genesis of this film, and how did it evolve over the course of development to production and completion?
- Terry Loane (Director): "The script was inspired by a combination of two things - documentary interviews with elderly Irish D-Day veterans, and a touching real-life news story on the anniversary of D-Day in 2014. During development, we focused increasingly on the emotional impact of Artie’s traumatic experience as a teenager thrown into the madness of war, and the guilt that has haunted his sleeping moments ever since. During production we wanted to highlight the warmth and humorous story beats, to ensure a balance between light and shade. Post-production allowed us to finely calibrate this balance, with a carefully pitched musical score playing an integral role in guiding the audience’s experience of the highs and lows of Artie’s journey."
- Pierce Brosnan (Actor): " I read the script several years ago, fell in love with it, watched Mickybo and Me with my wife Keeley and fell in love with it and she said you have got to make this film. That’s why I’m making it, for my wife and myself. I didn’t know what Terry was going to be like but he’s a dream, absolute dream. I trust him implicitly. He’s very nimble on his feet and he knows the nuance of each character and his direction is so precise and detailed so I have absolute faith and trust in him and think we are making a really poignant movie. I think we have made a poignant, heartfelt , entertaining story."
What did you feel was the most fulfilling element of working on this film?
- Kevin Fitzpatrick (Screenwriter): "As writer on my first feature, the most fulfilling element for me was seeing how my simple story on the page was magically transformed once all the components of filmmaking fell into sync. Great actors made my dialogue sing; the cinematographer delivered breath-taking imagery and tone; the set designers and makeup artists brought authenticity; the composer brought a tear; the director brought it all together. Witnessing the collaborative effort of filmmaking for the first time was truly awe-inspiring and rewarding."
- Terry Loane: "Taking a film from the page into production is always a process fraught with risk. Covid and health issues repeatedly depleted our cast and crew, so when we finally reached France to film in the actual War Cemetery, I felt that our creative journey had achieved the closure it needed - filming the final sequences of our road movie in France felt critical to the authenticity of our story."
- Katy Jackson (Producer): "It was a wonderfully collaborative experience developing the script with Kevin Fitzpatrick. The entire team, cast, crew and post production worked with passion and commitment to make the film the best it could be. It was great to have the opportunity to include veterans on our journey and filming with them was an emotional and inspiring time for us all."
To what extent was your on-screen talent vital to the success of the film?
- Terry Loane: "After years of considering every word on the page, casting is (almost) everything. Clearly, our lead was always going to be critical to the film’s success. I knew that Pierce had not played an elderly Irish character before, and was elated when he fell in love with Artie’s story. The gentle pensive depth he brought grounded the film beautifully. As Artie encounters many unique characters on his journey through Ireland and into France, we focused on making sure to cast authentically to reflect the various regional accents and international identities that he meets. I am especially proud of the many Irish actors that our casting directors guided me towards - I hope the film highlights a slice of the great range of on-screen talent on this small island."
- Katy Jackson: "The Last Rifleman is all about the actors’ performances and I think they were all inspired by the story and the script. A number had tales of their own relatives during the war and it is amazing how often these stories mirrored what was written in the script. I think the actors’ performances are stunning."
Why is it important to see your work represented at the IFTAs and to be acknowledged by your peers in the Irish film community?
- Terry Loane: "Most of us directors spend solitary months and years developing scripts, in the crazed belief that they could and should be made. When the stars align and we finally get to create something against many many odds, streaming can provide just a brief moment of awareness for the audience. It is so validating to have the IFTA spotlight shone on our work, so we can share the results of our labours with like-minded delusional filmmakers as well as the wider Irish audience."
- Kevin Fitzpatrick: "For me personally, now in my 50s and having laboured most of my life in a family engineering business, to see my efforts as a writer recognised at the IFTAs is humbling, quietly fulfilling and a testament to that old adage ‘never give up on your dreams."