FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION
IFTA AWARDS 2024
The Martini Shot
When an ailing movie director (Matthew Modine) begins to shoot what he believes to be his final work of art, what starts out as a normal movie ends up being an exploration of mortality and one's profound effect on the world.
Director: Stephen Wallis Writer: Stephen Wallis Producers: Stephen Wallis / Susan Ilott / Emma Owen / Angelo Paletta / Michael Godfrey / Russ De Jong
Q: What was the genesis of this film, and how did it evolve over the course of development to production and completion?
- Stephen Wallis (Writer/Director): "The Martini Shot started out as a way to process the serious health issues I was going through at the time. I thought that the idea of a director knowing he was shooting his last film and therefore how would he use that limited time to create something worth doing was an interesting idea to explore. As most directors have a God complex to a certain extent, I decided to make the main character someone who may or may not be God and to let the audience figure out on their own what and who he was. I cast Matthew Modine quite early on. Matthew loved the story so much and we evolved the sensibilities of the lead character together. His kindness and his humanness coming out of those conversations. All of the producers and myself wanted to create a film that was an exploration of art, love, life but needed to do it in a unique way. To bring the audience along for the ride and to touch on life issues that affect all of us at one point or another. Films tend to not make us think. Most theatrical films have become popcorn films in recent times. Our team was hoping to make a film that would be successful in any era. As a group, we wanted at all times to be sure that the audience was introduced to themes that would stick with them. Not just for a couple of hours but for weeks and months afterwards. When we went into post-production we worked tightly with our editor and composer especially to create a feel and sound for the film that was fitting of the journey we were on. To try new ways of telling the story. To touch the heart. They talk a lot in the business about films being a labour of love. This film was exactly that for the entire cast and crew. An expression of love and the love of creation."
- Matthew Modine (Actor): "This really is a question best suited for Stephen Wallis, our writer director. For me, I was working on another project when Wallis offered me the role, so my wife read the script and immediately encouraged me to read it. We both absolutely loved the poetic nature of the film and how it presented so many ethereal questions for the audience."
Q: What did you feel was the most fulfilling element of working on this film?
- Stephen: "Working in Ireland. Exploring the country and the people in it. We needed to shoot where you’d might believe God might happen to be. Someplace with beauty in both the landscape and in its people. The cast and many of the crew came from very different places. Ireland, USA, Canada, UK. All working together. Bonded together by the film. All feeling the immediate and powerful connection between the spiritualness of the story and the artistic expression of those characters in it. When shown, the film has been given standing ovations at every festival and screening it’s been at. But what’s been exciting to see is that the audiences all speak about Ireland being the right place for it. That there’s something in the magical side of the country and our characters that is shared with our audience. To know that we were in the right place, with the right people at the right time is very fulfilling."
- Matthew: "I suppose that we were able to make the film at all. In this day and age, it’s a miracle that a small group of financiers supported such an ambitious, lyrical, elegiac story."
- Fiona Glascott (Actor): "The most fulfilling element of working on this film for me, was the ability to explore humour as we looked at the big themes of mortality and morality. I really loved the conversation about peoples right to grieve and how no one, even God, has a right play with people emotions."
Q: What do you hope audiences will take away from the film?
- Stephen: "When I wrote the film, I was hoping for people to connect to the love of art. Of making art. Of being art. I think there’s very few stories nowadays that explore the need to create. This is something that humans have done for their entire history. We tell stories, we sing songs and we move forward through our art. Civilization has changed because of what we write. I think our main character being God but being one that makes mistakes as humans do is good for the audience. To allow yourself a belief system but to also understand that whatever created us is likely learning just like we are. Trying to get better. To look at the good in things and not the negative. I hope the audiences take away joy and hope when they leave the theatre."
- Matthew: "A sense of awe that reminds the viewer that there is so much more to life than what meets the eye."
- Fiona: "I hope they take away one of the main things I took from this film which is, wherever you go, you bring yourself with you. Often we change jobs, relationships, location but at the end of the day, we are always with ourselves. Theres no point running away. It’s worth taking some time to look at who we are, accept it and go on from there."
Q: To what extent was your on-screen talent vital to the success of the film?
- Matthew: "Well, and I’ll say this as humbly as possible, I can’t imagine another actor breathing life into the character. I designed the costume and had it tailored in Rome. The characters voice, his beard, the way he interacts with the humans he brings to life and into his magical world. I love the character and the film! It’s magical."
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?
- Stephen: "Ireland is everything for our film. From our Irish Producer Emma Owen and her team to our Irish cast to the landscape itself. Ireland is a big part and perhaps the most important part of the film and its current success. When I moved to Ireland it felt that it was an industry that was still learning. Still young at heart. But with shooting our film, we could see just how far it’s grown in such a small amount of time. The crews are fantastic. The people both in and around the industry all knowledgeable and driven. As we’ve all seen the past couple of years with “The Banshees of Inisherin” and “The Quiet Girl”, that this is an industry creating Oscar level films all the time."
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?
- Matthew: "It’s a honor to participate in the IFTA’s and have one's worked recognized. It’s such an honorable reward in and of itself to be invited."
- Fiona: "I left Ireland many years ago but have been fortunate to come back and film here. Ireland is where I found my love for performing and where I was trained, supported and my work/ talent was nurtured. I will be forever grateful. The history our country has with storytelling and performing is unequalled around the globe and I am profoundly proud of that."