Tomorrow is Martha Pinson‘s directorial feature debut, it also marks Martin Scorsese‘s first voyage into British feature film as he takes on an executive producer role. And it even features Devon’s own Joss Stone -as well as Stephen Fry, Stephanie Leonidas, Sebastian Street, Stuart Brennan, Sophie Kennedyâ€Clark and Paul Kaye.
Martha’s career credits read like an ideal journey through film and TV, she’s directed an award-winning short film and off-Broadway plays as well as collaborating with Oliver Stone and Sidney Lumet.
She has also worked on Scorsese’s four most-recent narrative films: The Aviator, The Departed, Shutter Island, and Hugo.
Tomorrow is a moving and inspirational feature film, which candidly explores the difficulty and loneliness soldiers encounter as they try to reintegrate back into society having served for their country; moving on from losses and injuries to forge a life, find sustaining work and experience love.
The film is a very personal journey for both writers and boldly explores several hard-hitting yet underexposed issues such as postâ€traumatic stress disorder, as well as HIV and AIDS.
The subject matter of the film is both topical and timely, with the end of the UK combat mission in Afghanistan after 13 years of intense fighting, which has claimed 453 British lives alone. The project is working with charity Help for Heroes to collaborate in building a national awareness campaign for the film and the serious issues it deals with.
D&CFilm’s Simon Roger Key caught up with Martha to find out about her experience at the helm of her first feature.
Martha, could you start by telling me a little about Tomorrow and the film’s themes?
Tomorrow explores the difficulty of moving on from loses and injuries, to forge a life, to find sustaining work, and experience love. This is an acute challenge for a person in their mid-late 20s, which has not been extensively dramatized. For an injured veteran or someone who has health issues it is colossal. The additional issue of a father-son estrangement is excellent. A young woman who wants to have her own business or be an artist is also out on a high wire. It is a real coming-of-age story, one that pretty much everyone can relate to.
The shooting of Tomorrow must almost be completed, how has it gone and how closely will you be overseeing the editing process?
We completed Principal Photography on Sunday evening in Spain. The shoot has been an amazing, rewarding adventure for me. We had minor setbacks with locations, production issues, but I had a great team and we carried on every day. Darran Bragg, my Director of Photography, and I turned out to be strong collaborators and I think we made a beautiful film. More than one person remarked, looking at the footage, ‘It looks like a major motion picture.’ But we’re on a small indie budget. Top that!
The writing and editing process both construct a film’s narrative; do you enjoy one of these more and if so, why?
I enjoy both. I did not write Tomorrow and frankly, I really like directing a script I did not write. It gives me a natural sense of being the first audience and that’s a great place for a director to be. We have to bridge that gap. I write all the time, sort of regard it as like dancing in the street. People might look at you funny but they’re not going to stop you. You’re not really bothering anyone. I am a natural storyteller, I guess, and directing is about the most wonderful outlet possible for someone like me.
I like editing because I can rely on the Editor to put a lot of the pieces together and then I can mull and give it that subtle but important tweak to really express the themes and tone. I guess writing tops editing for me.
You’ve worked with a variety of directors throughout the years but until now you’ve only directed shorts. Why was the time right now to make your theatrical debut?
Over the years, while working on big movies and raising my son, I wrote many screenplays and directed theatre and short films. All of those were on my own steam. It was what I did for fun, for a creative outlet, to collaborate with my friends. I could do all that and still be there for my child. Once he was grown and on his own, I started thinking more about my own career, had more time to put into development; I could travel without worrying. Now he’s through college and has worked is way to becoming a DGA Assistant Director. He’s also a wonderful writer. Like me, he does that on his own time.
I think things gradually started to accelerate in the recognition of my work. I wrote a miniseries treatment that was optioned, found a Hollywood Producer for one of my original scripts, and have been offered several films to direct.
It must be the accumulation of the work I did independently, people starting to notice. I developed a resume that would give them the confidence to hire me. I’ve been able to network due to having more time off from big movies and social media has helped a lot. More than anything,
I’m grateful for the support Martin Scorsese has given me. Without that, things might have foundered. He has always been interested in my creative work -has read several of my scripts, watched my short.
Were there any parts of the filmmaking process that you found more challenging than others? Were there any challenges you hadn’t anticipated?
I know it’s probably hard to believe but I did not find directing Tomorrow all that challenging. The work itself -story analysis, rehearsing with cast, shot design, staging, shooting, talking to the actors to convey what I want, working with the crew -are all very comfortable for me. The biggest challenge was to wait for the finance, for the film to be green-lit, but that is not about directing; that’s a producer’s problem.
You’ve worked with Martin Scorsese a number of times and on some of his most celebrated films. Do you have a favourite and why?
I guess I don’t think about it that way. It has been an honour and a privilege to work with Martin Scorsese on many films since 1986. I would show up every day and do my best to contribute to the process in my role as his Script Supervisor. I was able to observe and enjoy the most amazing process. I guess I’d say I love the jokes, language, and drama in The Departed, and the visual and historical qualities of The Aviator most.
Martha Pinson, thank you