*WARNING THIS ARTICLE TALKS ABOUT SUICIDE AND MAY SHOW CONTENT NOT SUITABLE FOR CHILDREN*
Kevin Renwick's film Grief delves into the sadness and depression of what makes a person suicidal. He wrote, directed and starred as the lead character Kyle Harden. His film captures moments of intense pain, struggle, and comedy in the journey his character takes in trying to take his own life after the loss of his child.
Who are you and what do you do?
Kevin Renwick. I wrote, directed, and acted in Grief, which is my first feature film.
What inspired you to write the story?
After suffering a personal loss, I became obsessed with one simple, everyday occurrence... Death. We all know It’s inevitable, and generally speaking, I think people are completely impassive about its occurrence until it happens to someone close, rendering us emotionally lost and helpless, hence the grieving process. I found it fascinating — on one hand, some people survive grief and are able to move on from their loss — on the other hand, grief can plague a person for years, or decades, even to a point where one eventually is driven to kill themselves. I asked myself: How burdened would a person who isn’t already suicidal have to be to kill themselves? How does someone suffering through this level of psychological torment find peace? This was a chilling and particularly horrifying exploration of the mind, yet, at moments there was a certain peace with making such a grave and final decision. This is a story I hadn’t yet seen - at least played out from this particular perspective - and I felt it warranted sharing without straying from the harsh truth that is many peoples reality. I wanted to make a movie which depicted the most unrelenting and raw precipice of a person’s life — A person standing at the edge or their own existential threshold.
What challenges did you have during the production process?
Aside from the usual time, money, and manpower restraints, the weather was a bit challenging. The movie takes place on a sunny day in a house full of open windows with natural sunlight spilling in. However, the month we were filming was quite dreary and rainy which ended up costing us 4 filming days.
What was one of the best moments of writing or working on set?
Around the 2nd or 3rd day of filming, there was a general excitement in the air amongst the entire cast and crew that we were involved with something great. This, in turn, led to an ironically cheerful set given the nature of the film.
How long did it take to create the film from pre-post?
About 18 months -- give or take. But even after post, there's still endless work to be done with getting the film distributed. I personally have been working on this for a little over 2 years now.
What has the festival experience been like?
We premiered in June 2017 at the world famous Chinese Theater with the Dances With Films festival, which was an absolutely magical night. As far as doing festival after festival -- that's not my cup of tea. I like to premiere the movie at a good festival and be done with it. Now let us get this thing out for the masses and hopefully, they'll watch and enjoy it.
What were some of the challenges of acting/writing/directing it?
Between sleep depravity and my commitment to playing this perpetually depressed character led to me at times struggling with retaining my own sanity. It was trippy - a new experience for sure.
Do you have a favorite character or scene?
My favorite characters are a pair of dopey cops (Officer's Cox & Strawberry) that come by the house to check on things because they had "reason to believe" a gun was discharged. My favorite scene is probably the "Pill Party" sequence.
What made you choose the sound design for the film?
"Grief" is so much more than a movie about grief, and the musical elements were a great way to convey that. My composer, (the immensely talented Lee Miles) and I wanted to really enhance the psychological aspect of the film with the score to help put you into the chaotic mind of Mr. Kyle Harden as an underlying vibe. His reflection even has his own crazy theme. However, given there's levity in the film, we wanted to showcase that with some lighter pieces (the Lethal Weapon throwback) and at times accentuate the utter sorrow and loneliness Kyle is feeling with a piece like the lone cello.
If you were stranded on an abandoned island what five items would you want with you?
Coffee. Kettle. Pen. Paper. Gun.
If you could meet any director who would it be?
If you could have a conversation with anyone in history who would it be?
21 year old me
If you could have a superpower what would it be?
Mind control or the ability to fly -- depending on my mood
Do you think film stock is dead?
No. I think it will follow a course similar to vinyl.