• Lliam Coker

Writer and director questions, Answered

Back in August 2020, we released a test screener of Life After for a limited audience to make any final improvements and edits based on a questionnaire for our final edit so that we can get the most out of what we had created to offer the most help.

One part of this questionnaire was "If you could ask the Writer or Director a question relating to the story, what would it be?".

Ben and I had debated on how to answer these questions and we had started to write responses but with Lockdowns and the limited time to meet even if we could, made it difficult for us to put the time into correctly answering the questions you asked. We would have loved to have sat down and filmed our responses but this was out of the question for obvious reasons. Just posting them on social media did not feel fitting. So I hope by posting our response through the blog on Life After's website that the answers are here for all to see.

Here is a list of the questions with our responses;

1. Did you feel you got your point across ref the story

We feel we have given the message that we intended to give without preaching and in the most part, it has been received that way.

2. How did you choose which character would react to the death in which way?

We wanted to show that everyone reacts differently and we also wanted to portray a variety of real life behaviour patterns. These were also given their own twist by the actors and the way they perceived the character.

The dad became the blame character. After we received some mental health training from Mind and we learnt there is usually a blame character in these circumstances.

3. Was the process of making this film traumatic or did it do the reverse and actually help by telling the story in the hope of getting the message over to anyone who may think this world would be better off without them?

There were moments in shooting Life After that it was both traumatic and helpful. We had actors connecting to themselves on a deeper level and their real emotions came through. I think we all had a little cry at some point because of how emotionally intense the storyline and schedule were.

For me as the writer and even acting the moment that went through me the most was Alyx screaming in the car “He’s dead isn’t he” to me this felt like an echo in time, my knuckles tightened and those words went straight through me, this is the moment that hit me the most. but for actually helping for me it is the whole process of writing, shooting and having an edited film that has helped me in many ways and I have learnt a great deal from it.

4. Has making the film changed how you would perhaps deal with a similar situation

Writing Life After has helped me grow as a person in many ways but so has each day since losing Kieron, the whole process to where we are today has made me be able to deal with this situation in a different way. From Mental health training, my own experiences and learning of others experiences and struggles has helped me change who I am to hopefully help when someone needs it, Also opening my mind to ways to change thought patterns and even just little things like having a hobby and interest can really help improve your mood.

5. Is there anything else you wanted to include but couldn’t?

There were scenes we would love to shoot but unfortunately, we were unable to at the time, I would love to be able to include one scene but we are currently unable to. We have the footage but are no longer able to have the actor do the part needed to complete it.

6. How much of each character's story is true? Is this just taken from one experience? (Can't remember is 'based on true events comes up at the beginning of the film, but if it doesn't then it NEEDS adding for an extra emotional punch)

Life After is Inspired by true events. The characters were laid out and a script written from these characters. There would have been influences from the real life story but Ben doing the screenplay changed a lot of the original script I handed him. Then on top of this, we allowed each actor their own freedom with their character even some changing what was written in the screenplay so it became more and more away from any real parts of the story. There is one scene in the film that remains true as the two people in the scene are the two people who were there, the texts messages are also real messages from that day as full consent was given from both sides.

At this moment there is no line to say Inspired by true events.

7. Obviously there are reasons why the movie was made but do you think the guilt that could consume someone after such events could be helped?

Is this the guilt each individual feels after someone has completed suicide? If so everyone is going to deal with the circumstance in their own personal way. Through training courses, we learnt that normally someone very close to the person will most likely try to take their own life within the first few days of this even happening, after this, it could possibly happen a couple of weeks after. Everyone experiences emotions differently and this plays out over time. If someone loses someone close to them in this way it is so sudden sometimes, it’s a shock and it has to be processed. I’m not sure you could help the guilt someone feels but to have support if it does is much needed.

8. Was it difficult to make as it was a true story of sorts

Life after was inspired by the events of my experience of losing my best friend and how it affected myself and the people closest to his life. The paths people follow and the darkness each person falls into inspired the writing of Life After in the hope that it may not only help prevent some suicides but may also help stop the ripple effects suicide causes. There were difficulties in making Life After as it was being written as an inspiration and not as based upon so starting out with taking care to choose the characters and their roles, editing for a screenplay to help take away from truths by Ben editing the screenplay and allowing actors to make the character their own it took some time to get the characters to where we wanted them. Without question the emotional strain of such a heavy shooting schedule took a massive toll on all of us as well.

9. What was the biggest challenge during production

This is your question ben 😂

Those bloody seagulls! Getting all the actors on set together when doing the original shooting schedule, which also made some of these days a lot more intense as we were waking up at 4am and finishing at 10pm some days.

Thank you for taking the time to ask these questions and your help with improvements to the final cut.

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