Kingdom of Us
Life throws all kinds of stuff at us, some good, some bad, some absolutely earth shattering. Paul’s suicide was one of those earth shattering events that left myself and my children in tatters. 10 years after the event and we’re still here, still in one piece and, remarkably, moving forward in spite of the fact that life just keeps giving….more shit that is!
I need to write a second book in order to tell the story properly (something I’m planning to do) but suffice it to say that the proverbial ‘icing on the cake’ was my heart attack 11 weeks ago, a defining moment indeed!
But in amongst all of the interesting events that have littered our lives over the last few years we made ‘Kingdom of Us’ with the incredibly talented Lucy Cohen. Lucy is one of those people you meet once in a lifetime, someone who is so sensitive, empathetic, insightful to the point of appearing to be telepathic and so caring that she almost seems to be from a higher plane.
We met Lucy via ‘Unravelled’, the book I wrote a few years ago, in a roundabout way. My literary agent, Andrew Lownie, introduced me to an agency called ‘Find a TV Expert’, through this agency a lady called Dee Kahlon found my profile and got in touch. We met with her and she wanted to make a TV documentary about autism and introduced us to her preferred Director, Lucy.
It felt as though it was meant to be, love at first sight actually! We adored Lucy and quickly came to trust her implicitly and we started filming. The road to completing the film was anything but smooth and there were times when we all kept filming, really not knowing why. There were no backers, no production company, no-one interested in the project which had long ceased to be a documentary about autism and had become, well, we didn’t really know what it was going to become.
And then through Lucy’s hard work and persistence a production company called Pulse became involved, they believed in the film and Lucy. Funding came along a few months later and Lucy started to get the feel of what the final film would be.
It’s winning awards!
Four years after starting the whole process and 18 months of editing later and we have the finished article. The film premiered at the London Film Festival, which was awesome and it won the Grierson Award for best documentary, unbelievable!
Now it’s been nominated for a BIFA (British Independent Film Awards) and we’re off to London on Sunday for the ceremony. Who knows if the film will win but just to be nominated is too incredible for words, who knows what next?
In amongst all of this, Netflix became interested in the film long before the final edit was complete and snapped it up. We were overjoyed, being available on Netflix meant that the film would be easily accessible globally and we hoped that it might just change some perceptions and maybe change a few lives. The day of the release was a tense one for us, we had no idea how the film was going to be received, it could have gone either way.
But, we have been blown away by the response from people all over the world since it’s release on the 13th October. We have received hundreds of messages from people thanking us for making the film and allowing people into our lives, and messages like the ones below have been so humbling but also, so awesome.
“Wow, what an amazing documentary. I’m in a real shitty place at the minute you and your family have really made me realise the possible devastation certain decisions could possibly have on others x”
“I watched your documentary today I just want to thank you. I have had suicidal thoughts lately & seeing the impact it has on children has made me stop”
These are excerpts from messages we’ve received and there have been so many others along the same lines. We made the film in the hope that it might make a difference, we didn’t expect this but comments like these make the whole, difficult, four year process so incredibly worthwhile.
Thank goodness Lucy believed in the project and put everything into it for four years.
Thank goodness we all kept believing in her.
Thank goodness all the other people who became involved in the project believed in it as well.
We all hope that the film will be seen by as many people as possible and continue to make people think twice about mental health, autism and suicide