Scoil Naomh Fiachra

Questions for Martin

Martin Grace: Questions for Martin

We all tried to think of questions we would like to ask about stuntmen and films. Martin said he would do his best to answer them. In the end we got to ask twenty of the questions. We tried to pick the questions that would tell us the most interesting things about films and stunts and Martin himself.

After Martin answered the questions we wrote some of our thoughts about his answers and sent them to him. We have some of them printed here after Martin’s answers.

Question 1.

How did you become a stuntman in the first place (John)?

Children,

I have read your questions with interest and I shall answer all questions to the best of my ability and recollection. So here we go starting with, HOW DID I BECOME A STUNTMAN?

John, I did not know of the word ‘stuntman’ when I was at school in Lisdowney. But certain events probably sowed the seeds that led me in that direction. I recall a travelling Film Show coming to Lisdowney and they set up a tent up the Knockmannon road on the left side, past the old pump, either in Maher’s or Kenny’s field. I was about six at that time. They played there for about a week. They showed western films, which were very flickery and jumpy on the screen. Their power was from an old generator, which could be heard thumping outside as I watched those films wide-eyed and with fascination.

The cowboys spent the complete duration riding in and out of a canyon. It did not make sense but boy it was exciting. The hero would get tied up by the bad guys and the horse would come back to undo the ropes tying up the hero.

There was also a travelling show that came, run by a man called Vick Loving. They pitched tent on the Aharney road by Ryan’s cottage and Mooney’s. They put on various acts, which I enjoyed.

There used to be Point-to-Point races at Balleen and there I saw this showman who used to balance a bicycle and a long ladder on his chin. I think he had a little monkey on top of the ladder. On returning home I got out a ladder and eventually balanced that ladder on my chin.

Freshford was a venue for senior annual sports day. There was this big athlete called Comerford, from Crettyard, who, although big, won most of the contests: three-mile run, high jump, pole vault and throwing the half hundred weight (56lbs). I thought this was something for me. Again on returning home I got out a 56lb weight and started to throw it about.

I remember also when a ball went over a wall about 4 metres high I was egged on to jump from the top to retrieve it and of course I jumped, landed on my backside and just sat there in shock unable to move. When the boys asked me to get the ball I could only grunt as I guess my vertebrae got all shook up.

That was my first experience of a shock and I must have liked it as it worked out ok.

Larry Hamilton came as master to Lisdowney NS during my last few years there. He introduced us to compete in athletics, sports and hurling. He also introduced an American game called softball, a sort of baseball. In addition he moulded us into a team in the under 14 group to win two Leagues.
Later in Kilkenny Technical School I relished sports days and won some trophies. I only spent one year in Kilkenny Tech. It should have been two but I got restless to get out in the world and earn a living.

Emigration at that time seemed an attractive option and London was near and there was lots more happening there at that time regarding sports facilities and entertainment. All that I had experienced up to this point in what I have written had some bearing on the fact that I eventually became a Stuntman.

Pupil Comments:

Emma:

I thought it was very interesting the way travelling shows came and went in those days and I was also interested to hear about the man with the ladder on his chin at the races.

Eoin:

I was interested in this because it was a long and very strange tale about how he became a stuntman.

Shane:

It was unusual the way Martin Grace mentioned the Balleen Races the same as the stories we got a few years ago from Geoff Brennan. It was good that on his first audition he got a job.

Martin Grace:

Thank you for your responses to my answers and your kind remarks. I actually spent from midnight until 6.00 a.m. reading each question and giving meticulous thought to each one, determined not to leave any unanswered. It was a pleasure to oblige and refreshing to be taken down part of memory lane again.

I remember Geoff Brennan (RIP) known for his Treshing Machinery. We obviously saw the same Showman in Balleen. I did not see the cart wheel act but in addition to his ladder act he also laid on a bed of nails and separately on some broken glass. The bed of nails I did some years later. It looks impressive, especially if you get the biggest man around to stand on your chest while you are pretending to relax. There is usually a method to all of those things. I believe this showman was there every year and probably did variations and changes from year to year.

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Question2.

What was your first job (John)?

John,

I will tackle these questions in two parts

(A) Preparing to be a stuntman. Jobs I did to survive that period,

(B) My first Film Action job.

(A)
When I first arrived in London I went straight into this car showroom, which had a vacancy sign up and landed my first employment with pay. Very soon I was looking for, and joined a gymnasium and started weightlifting. That followed joining boxing and wrestling clubs. I learned a lot of skills in those sports. Each one of those wanted me to concentrate on their individual sport and make me a champion. But I was looking at a broader picture and wanted to get involved in entertainment. I took lifesaving classes and became a lifeguard.

I had heard that Butlin’s holiday camps took on enthusiastic young men and women as what they called “Redcoats”, to organise sports and entertainment, as Lifeguards, and to be cheerful with the campers. I had also heard that a lot of entertainers, show people and future film people often started at Butlin’s.

I was thrown straight into the deep end immediately the first week, organising sports days, swimming galas, water polo and a spot in one of their plays. There I discovered about an Acting School in London where they did night workshops. It was called the Mountview Theatre. I also discovered a Stunt school that at that time taught basic fighting, falling and sini gymnastics. Although it was only the basics it started me on the road, which was going to be long.

From there I got introduced to an agency that catered to commercial companies who were looking for athletic people to take part in action projects. But it was not that simple as I had to walk round London for weeks and months to all those advertising agencies to meet and talk to their Casting Agents for their approval, hopefully. At the same time I am taking lessons and classes in Fencing, Swordplay, Karate, Trampoline and gymnastics, all of which will benefit my performances in the future.

Emma:

I was surprised at all the jobs he did before he became a stuntman.

Jack:

I was surprised that he was able to balance the ladder on his chin the first time he tried. And I’m confused about how horse racing in Balleen started him in stunts.

Shane:

How could a lifeguard become a stuntman? I think it’s interesting that he was so curious about Fairs and Circuses.

Question 3.

If your first job had nothing to do with films, how did you change to being a stuntman (John)?

(B) Alas, I am sent for my “FIRST” audition. They are looking for two characters, a White Knight in Armour fighting a Black Knight. I walked in to the audition full of confidence, tanned by the summer sun, looking fit and athletic. The Director said straight away, pointing at me,
“That is my White Knight!”
I was going to be under the supervision of the man playing the Black Knight, who was a very experienced Stuntman, on my first action job although just a fight scene.

I worked on many small action bits until in 1964 I landed the part of stunt double to do a series of Stunts on a Cadbury’s Milk Tray chocolate ad, jumping on a train and leaping off, transferring from a sports car on to a helicopter and dropping on to a hotel, leaping on to a moving truck and jumping into a lake and later swinging across a gorge after being chased by wolves. It all progressed from there.

That has got to be the longest answer to any of the questions and I hope it tells you what you wanted to know John!

Martin Grace:

After I sent the answers it dawned on me that there were some events that happened during my preparation period for Stunts. At age 19 at a weightlifting club in Hartfordshire I broke a British record for a Squat lift of 420lbs for under 20 class in year 1961, inspired by the half-hundredweight thrower at Freshford Sports!

I Won a contest for a European Charlton Heston that gave me a free trip to Hollywood and my first visit to the Studios there.

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Question 4.

What is your favourite type of stunt (Emma)?

Emma,

My favourite Stunt was always the very High Fall. That is when it got above 60 feet up to 100 feet, which I have done many times in my career when I was a performing Stuntman at top level.

Again when I was very young in Lisdowney there was a bell at the top of the Church and it fascinated me to look up and it looked such a colossal height then. I had this feeling of wanting to go up there and look down.

But it was in Rhodes from a Mosque that I got the opportunity to go much higher, around 100 feet and actually fall majestically from it. The job was offered to any of the stuntmen who wished to take it but there were no takers, so I let the Co-ordinator know I was willing to do it. Although I was doing regular falls around up to 40 feet, doing 100 takes a lot of practising, increasing the height on a daily basis to get perfect body control to achieve accuracy and to get psychologically prepared.

The exciting part is the day of the shoot. You are now on your own and completely in charge of yourself. It’s a long climb up the interior stairs. Your thoughts are of the landing rig of cardboard boxes and combination of sponge mats that will break your fall.

Have they been laid properly? Yes, I supervised the rig myself.

I am convinced I have done this many times before. I arrive at the top. I step out on to a parapet. Cameras are set and looking up. You feel excited. The adrenalin is flowing. There is now no return. You feel king of the world but still in control. I have a walkie talkie 2-way radio. My communication is down to three people The Director, The Stunt Co-ordinator, and the last man the First Assistant Director who gives me “Roll cameras!” and then a clear “Action Martin!”

I usually let out a loud scream. It is a way to release any tension and it mesmerises the audience. On the fall down everything is crystal clear. It is truly an amazing experience. I see the landing rig and as I accelerate toward it. It seems to be rushing at me and then in a split second I tuck my head and flip on to my back. A critical manoeuvre. I land perfectly and walk away, not a scratch. That is the high fall!

Shane:

It was a surprise that you got the courage to go up to 60 or 100 feet high. It was incredible that you didn’t get a scratch when you jumped off the building. Did you somersault when you were jumping off a building?

Jack:

I was shocked when he said he didn’t get scared jumping off high buildings. And I wonder if he ever jumped off a higher building than the one he told us about.

Emma:

I know that if I did stunts jumping off high buildings would probably be one of my least favourite stunts, because I am afraid of heights!

Aoife:

I was surprised because he said his favourite stunt was the High Fall. I thought stuntmen would hate that because they would have to jump down off a really high building and if they looked down at the ground when they were coming down they would probably get dizzy.

Hakim:

His favourite stunt was the high fall. I think it would be hard to jump from those heights.

Eoin:

I was very surprised that high falls were his favourite stunts. I thought that the easy stunts would be his favourite.

Jessica:

I never knew anyone who likes jumping off high buildings before and now I know a stuntman who loves jumping off them. He must be very brave. If I got up on a high building I would scream when I looked down.

Shane:

He must have had great fun doing stunts. I would have as well.

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Question 5.

When you were in school did you want to be a stuntman (Jessica)?

Jessica,
When I was at school I did not know about Stunt people. Although I was curious about travelling shows and circuses that had “Stunty” type of acts.

Question 6.

If you were not a stuntman what do you think you would be (Jessica)?

Jessica,

When at school I did not know what I really wanted to be. That is probably also part of the reason I pursued that career. It’s a bit off beat as careers go. I knew I wished to travel and do something exciting. I did think about being a pilot. Mainly because Mr Larry Hamilton, our teacher, took us to Baldonnel Airforce Base and I found it very exciting when a young Dublin pilot flew a jet close above our heads and the noise seemed shattering.

That is also possibly why my second most favourite piece of action in a movie is the helicopter opening scene in FOR YOUR EYES ONLY, as I spent three weeks hanging outside and underneath the helicopter with roaring engines, downdraft and very exciting!

Ciara:

I thought it was interesting why he said he would like to be a pilot. His teacher, Mr. Hamilton, took him to the Air Force Base at Baldonnel and this was what made him interested. Mr. Hamilton is my grand uncle!

Caroline:

I was interested in his story about going to Baldonnel Air Base and how he was excited when a young Dubliner flew a jet close to their heads. It sounded very exciting.

Question 7.

What age were you when you did your first stunt (Simon)?

Simon,

Although I had been practising Stunts and doing types of Stunts during my preparation years, on shows my first Film stunt was at age 21.

Aoife:

I thought stuntmen would have done their first stunt when they were around 29 or 30.

Emma:

I think this was a very young age to start.

Martin Grace:

Later in 1974 I did a Stunt Show tour in Scandinavia, Sweden, Finland and Denmark. By this time I was already a stunt performer for 10 years. The Film Business was down a bit at that time. I got approached by this Norwegian promoter who had this great idea to do a show on the theme of The Stars Behind The Stars.

They had done the show the previous year with great success. They needed an experienced Utility stuntman who could step in at any time and do any of the
stunts in any of the acts so I found myself doing the High Falls, Car Crashes, Rollovers, Tunnel of Fire, Motorcycle jumping over cars, Fight demonstrations and
Sword Fights Musketeer style.

Some of the acts were done in a comedy humorous style. Although I had been a
film stuntman for 10 years this Stunt show with its constant 6 evening shows per week improved my capabilities immensely and made me a number one choice
at the head of the competition for the future Projects.

here is a downside to travelling shows. You arrive at a town in the afternoon, go straight to a hotel check-in, then to the arena venue, prepare all the equipment, check vehicles, motorcycles, ramps and do light rehearsals for position and precision. Then back to the hotel, have a shower, an evening snack, put on the showman glitter gear and head back to the venue for
the show.

The crowds have assembled and they expect something big and exciting. You are now on your own. You know your acts will work. You are brimming with
confidence – this is the only way. It is exciting and exhilarating when you drive out in front of the audience to make your introduction.

The Show starts with easier acts. Then they get bigge,r bolder and more exciting. Your adrenalin flows. You feel like king of the world. By the end of the show you feel like you will never need sleep.

We go back to the hotel, clean up and find a restaurant to have dinner. It feels like
you can stay up all night. All of a sudden you start to feel very tired. The excitement has gone. You go back to the hotel, collapse on the bed. It is 1.00 a.m.

You get up at 7.00 a.m., have breakfast, into our cars and head for the next venue, possibly 3 to 4 hours away. Then a repeat of the previous day. One can imagine after 3 months of this repetition how exhausted mentally and physically one can get. But I enjoyed the challenge and experience and have no regrets.

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Question 8.

Did you ever do any stunts with animals (Simon)?

Second part re stunts with animals.

I did a Stunt on “The Onedin Line” for BBC TV in the eighties doing a back somersault after being shot.
I rode a camel as double for Roger Moore on THE SPY WHO LOVED ME in Egypt. I also supervised the training of falling and rearing horses on ANNA AND THE KING in Malaysia in 1999.

On RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK I had to put my hand into a narrow hole in the rock face that was surrounded with tarantulas i.e. poisonous spiders. The spider expert told me to move my hand into the hole very slowly and gently and it worked. Stunt people must always listen to such experts. Understanding is often half the battle.

Question 9.

What was the best movie you ever did a stunt in (Marie)?

Marie,

There was a series of Films that were very good, that I did stunts on, mainly the James Bonds – FOR YOUR EYES ONLY – the opening helicopter scene.

A VIEW TO A KILL because I did stunts on two of the world’s most famous landmarks the Eiffel Tower in Paris and the Golden Gate Bridge in the USA. Although I must not leave out RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK – falling on the statue in the snake pit and lots of other action and stunts that were not so big but flowed well and looked good.

Marie:

It seems to be that he likes James Bond films the best. One of the reasons why he likes them is that he got to do stunts from some of the world’s famous landmarks, the Eiffel Tower and the Golden Gate Bridge.

Question 10.

What was your favourite subject in school (Alexandra)?

Alexandra,

You have asked me the trickiest question, full marks for that. It is probably why I took up a career such as doing stunts. I can say I liked Sport best of all and did not dislike any other subjects.

Poetry is something I liked. When I went to Kilkenny Technical School I liked the art class, also the Science class as the teacher would take us for walks on the country roads to examine flowers. If I had my life over again with the experience I have gained in life, School would have a greater priority.

Jack:

I was surprised that Martin loved more than one subject (sport). He also liked poetry, science and art in secondary school.

Eoin:

I was not surprised that he liked sports but I was very surprised that he liked poetry.

Question 11.

Did any of your relations have any connection with films or stunts (Ciara)?

Ciara,

None of my family had any connection to Films or Stunts although back in the twenties and thirties I know there was a stunt pilot called Dick Grace in Hollywood in the early days. I have yet to discover if he was from the same Grace branch, as some of our grandparents’ brothers and sisters emigrated to the USA, probably about 1840.

Shannon:

I was amazed that none of his relations had anything to do with films or stunts. I thought they would have something to do with films because you are such a famous stuntman.

Question 12.

How many times did you end up in hospital (Ciara)?

Second Question,

I ended up in hospital twice that was a bit serious. A dislocated neck in 1970, which now has two vertebrae fused together but does not affect me, apart from being slightly stiff at times.

The second serious visit to hospital was 25 years ago with a broken pelvis. Magically it came good and I went on to do some of my best work after that. I did visit a hospital in Fiji after being in an explosion, just for observation overnight.

Stunts always sound dangerous but for years and years nothing bad happened because of the safety precautions and skills that are applied.

Marie:

I am very surprised that he has only ended up in hospital twice.

Shane:

I thought he would have been in hospital more times than two. He could have died. He was very lucky.

Ciara:

I was shocked when I heard the answer to this question. He dislocated his neck but it came good and he did his best work after that. I think that would be really sore.

Emma:

I was amazed that he only went to hospital twice. I though he would have been in hospital a lot more times than that.

Alexandra:

I was surprised that he ended up in hospital only twice. I think most stunts people would end up in hospital more often than that.

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Question 13.

Is there a stunt that you would love to do but never got the chance (Shannon)?

Shannon,

I feel I have done all the stunts I needed to do in my career. Although I once had an idea on a James Bond film to suggest to do a stunt jumping from one air balloon on to another up in the elements but it never developed. Stunts have to fit into the story.

Question 14.

Did you ever get scared in the middle of a stunt (Caroline)?

Caroline,

I never got a scared feeling in the middle of a stunt, but there is always a feeling of concern which is very important, to keep alert and to be aware of all that is happening around you while doing a stunt.

Simon:

I don’t know how you weren’t scared before each stunt. I would have been terrified.

Shannon:

I think it’s cool that he is never scared because he’s underwater or jumping off tall buildings. If I wanted to jump off a tall building I would be scared even though I wanted to.

Shane:

It was interesting that he was never scared of a stunt in his career and that he had to be calm all the time and even sometimes have to calm somebody else down.

Question 15.

Where was the strangest place you ever worked (Caroline)?

Your second part,

Where was the strangest place I worked?

There were some strange places with customs far different than ours.

Papua New Guinea, where the natives still go to war with spears and bows with arrows. It is mainly up in the highlands. They do not have much happening at weekends, no football or games so hence one village goes fighting another over something simple. Maybe a pig from one village wanders on to the land of another village then it is war.

In a village near Maddng, where we shot the film ROBINSON CRUSOE, the local chief made me an Honorary Chief of his village. It was all done as a bit of fun.

The bush in Africa is another strange place that tends to make Europeans crazy if they are not stable in the first place but I found it exhilarating and felt really good there. When wandering in the bush one is liable to run into a troupe of baboons by day or warthogs in the cool of the evening.

Shannon:

I think he worked in interesting places. Papua New Guinea sounds like a very interesting place. The name sounds like it is a small place in the countryside. He worked in many different backgrounds and places.

Claire:

I learned a few little things from his answer to this question. I learned that there are still little wars in parts of the world like Papua New Guinea.

Martin Grace:

I sent a photo of some natives I trained to look savage and do some minor
action and reactions in Papa New Guinea on a Film called ROBINSON CRUSOE with Pierce Brosnan. I am not sure if I mentioned that I was made a chief in a village just outside Ma dang.

I cannot say how strong the chieftainship is as it was performed in a humourish way. We shot some scenes in a local village and used the natives as extras so the village Chief played the part of the Chief and the Witch Doctor played his part as himself.

They looked wonderful in their native dress and paint. I asked if we could have pictures taken with them and they obliged. As the pictures were
being taken I talked freely to the Chief about his job as Chief. I noticed he wore this symbol around his neck of two boars tusks in the shape of parenthesis or
like forming brackets facing each other. He informed me that only the chief could wear these.

I asked him if I could become Chief. I think he saw the humour of this and he smiled. All this time the Witch Doctor was listening in to our conversation in a curious way. I told him I would turn up the next day with the boar’s tusks and wished to become Chief. I also said to the Witch Doctor I needed him there with his bunch of
feathers to do the ceremony. I am sure the Chief thought that was the end of that.

On my way back to our hotel resort I stopped at this souvenir shop and bought the same boar’s tusks as the Chief was wearing. I told my stunt friends what was to happen. I also mentioned it to Pierce Brosnan at dinner that night and I could feel his gaze from the side looking at me. I am sure he must have thought I had gone crazy. But the very next day there I am in the middle of the native village with the Chief putting the boar’s teeth round my neck and the Witch Doctor waving his bunch of feathers over my head muttering some words.

This is the first time I have told this story or happening outside the witnesses who were there at the event. I sometimes think it is
unbelievable. There are many interesting things that happen on Film making other than about the Films themselves. Sometimes those things and stories are more
interesting.

Simon:

I think it would be a very scary place to live especially if you could start a war because of a pig from one tribe going on to the land of another tribe. But I think it’s cool that they still use spears and bows and arrows.

Caroline:

It interested me that in Papua New Guinea the natives still go to war with bows and arrows and spears and that sometimes villages would go to war over something simple.

Martin Grace:

I have another great story about a young local man that I bought a pig for so he could rear it sell it and buy three more young pigs so he would have enough to get a wife. But it will have to be told another time!

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Question 16.

What was the very first stunt you ever did (Shannon)?

Shannon,

Again the first stunt action on Film was for a Supersoft commercial, although I had done some falls from scaffolding for safety film companies and practice. The Cadbury’s Milk Tray ad was probably the most noticeable and prominent of my early Stunt work.

Question 17.

Is it difficult to hear the director when you are at the top of a high building (Claire)?

Claire,

It could be difficult to hear a director or anyone else when you are up high or in fact when on the ground if too far away and if there are other noises going on. Therefore important briefings and communications are done through two-way radios, either directly, or through an assistant being nearby.

Jack:

I wonder would a director ever get angry at you or tell you that you weren’t doing it right.

Claire:

I think it would be fun to use a two-way radio when listening to a director. He explained it very well. It was easy to understand.

Question 18.

Did “Jaws” really hit you when you were practising for your stunts (Shane)?

Shane,

“Jaws” – Richard Kiel – did not hit me during preparation or during shooting. We rehearsed his action and made it simple. He is 7ft-5in. He is very feeble, has back and neck problems.

We rehearsed him coming after me. I vault over some rails to escape him as he grabs me and is to drag me back over the rail like a rag doll. If you can see on the photograph I sent with Jaws, I have my left hand on the rail and as he attempts to lift me. I help him by pushing down on the bar and vaulting back over.

He is one of the kindest and nicest people you could ever meet. I met him in London the year before last. He was there to promote his book. I was one of just a few people he had worked with that he invited to meet him at Pinewood Studios.

Eoin:

I never would have thought that Jaws had back and neck problems and that he was so nice.

Simon:

I thought he would be really strong and I didn’t know he would have back and neck problems. In the films he looks grand and strong.

Michaela:

I never knew that Jaws (Richard Kiel) was 7 feet 5 inches tall. I never knew that Martin Grace and Richard Kiel were friends. Richard Kiel is the kindest and the nicest person he ever met. I was also interested in the photographs he sent.

Question 19.

Were there ever any stunts that you couldn’t do (Emma)?

Emma,

I have done most stunts in my career, mainly high falls, fires, trains, helicopters, boats in and under water, fight and battle scenes, explosions and many more. The only stunts I would not propose to do are skiing and skating as I did not have those facilities to train on.

Eoin:

I was surprised that he didn’t refuse the frightening stunts and just go for the half-hard ones.

Ciara:

I thought it was weird that he would not propose to do a stunt involving skiing and skating because I thought they would be the most common stunts and he would be the one doing the stunt.

Simon:

I would have loved to do stunts with skis and with roller blades.

Shannon:

I think he did very scary stunts. I like the underwater stunts best. I have seen underwater stunts but none by Martin Grace. I think they are interesting because you have different kinds of risks.

Question 20.

What was the scariest stunt you ever did (Aoife)?

Aoife,

I never felt a stunt was scary. As a professional stunt person if you are scared then you should not be there. As stuntmen we are expected to instil a calm.

Thank you all for your Questions. I hope you now have some better understanding about Stunts and that the answers help you to complete your project.

Wishing you all the best,

Martin G.

Marie:

I am very surprised that he is not scared doing stunts. He says that as a professional person if you are scared then you should not be there. He says that he is expected to keep other people calm. I am amazed because in question 9 he says he has done stunts on the Eiffel Tower and the Golden Gate Bridge. These buildings are very high up from the ground.

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Why Martin Grace is my Local Hero

Emma:

Martin Grace is my hero because it takes courage to jump from high buildings to the ground, from bridges onto boats and from helicopters to buildings. Martin has that courage, that is why he is my local hero.

Shannon:

Martin Grace is my local hero because he worked with famous people like the James Bond and the Indiana Jones crews.
He is also my local hero because he is kind and friendly. I know he is kind and friendly because he helped us with our project and he took time writing answers to our questions. I know he took time because the feelings in his answers are real. He is my hero for all the time he spent on our project.

Claire:

Martin Grace is my local hero because he represents our parish in the movies. I really like the photos he sent us. He answered all our questions very well and with so much interest in what we asked him. He answered my questions very well.
I think this is one of our best projects because we are doing it about such a friendly and brave hero.

Caroline:

We picked Martin Grace because he was local. He lived in this parish and went to school here when he was younger. He started off in the Cadbury’s Milk Tray advertisement on television. At the moment he is working in California with Jim Carey. He is designing stunts and helping people with stunts. Instead of doing them he is letting other people do them and he is teaching them.

Ciara:

Martin Grace is our local hero because he is from the parish. He went to school in Lisdowney and his teacher’s name was Mr. Larry Hamilton.
He is working in California at the moment designing stunts for films. We chose him because he is very interesting and he is very kind. He sent us pictures of some of his stunts and some of the people he worked with. We sent him some questions and he answered them with feeling.

Emma:

When Martin Grace was a young boy he was just like any other child. He went to school in Lisdowney and played hurling.
But when he was older he was all over the world doing stunts.

Shane:

Martin Grace is my local hero because he was very brave when he fought Jaws in the movies and when he swung from pillar to pillar in the Indiana Jones movies.
And I also found out that he is related to me! He is very lucky to be alive when one of his stunts went wrong.
John’s Grandad, Geoff, used to go to the Balleen Races and it was amazing that Martin mentioned the Balleen Races as well.

Simon:

I think he is my local hero because he started out in the same parish as me and because he has been working with many famous people. I like him because he played hurling for Lisdowney when he was in school and they were a very good team too.
I wonder if he is very rich or just not poor but not exactly very rich either. I hope he comes back to live in Ireland.

Eoin:

Martin told us that he discovered an interest in stunts at the Balleen Races when he saw a man balance a ladder on his chin. So when he arrived back home he walked into the garage and picked up a ladder and for a while he tried to balance the ladder on his chin. In the end he managed to balance the ladder.
Martin Grace is a local hero because he is a nice man who is a stuntman.

Jack:

Martin Grace is our local hero because he is a stuntman. He jumps off high buildings, breathes fire, stands on moving trains and much, much more.
When he told us how he thought of being a stuntman I was astonished. He saw a man balancing a ladder on his chin. He tried balancing a ladder on his chin and he did it. When I heard that I thought he wanted to be in the circus. Also when he was a boy a ball went over a wall 12 feet high. He climbed up the wall, jumped off the wall and got the ball. Then he climbed back up the wall and jumped back down.

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What we Learned from the Project

When we started we didn’t know if Martin Grace would be interested in our project. The first thing we learned was that he was really interested and he would have told us lots more if we had room to fit it into our project.

We learned that there are many very nice people in films and that they are not always like we think they are from their films.

At first we thought it wouldn’t be possible to do the project because Martin was not coming back to Ireland until July but we managed to get it done mainly by email and by Martin posting over letters and photographs.

Martin Grace explained all about his stunts and sent us some brilliant photographs. We didn’t have room to put them all in so we had to choose which ones to include.

When we received the photos we had to scan them into the computer and then we had to learn how to edit them. Some of them had to be cropped or rotated and we had to rename them.

We want to put this project on our school website after the summer holidays so we named the photos with names that suit the web. We had no capital letters and no spaces.

We also took some photos ourselves and uploaded them onto the computer and edited them.

Martin explained not just the stunts but also how he felt about doing them. Sometimes he surprised us with the things he said but now we understand much more about how films are made and what happens behind the scenes.

There is a huge amount of planning even for one small scene. Now when we are watching films we are looking out for the stunts as well as just watching the film and the actors.

We hope that the next time Martin is home in Ireland he will come to visit us at our school.

It was interesting to imagine that Martin was once sitting in a classroom in this parish, just like us. He played hurling for our school team and he scored goals!

The most surprising thing of all was that when Martin was in school one of his favourite subjects was Poetry. Our teacher asked us why we were surprised at this. We didn’t really know, but we were!

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