Dinosaur

An elderly widower suffering through loneliness, and grappling with a lack of purpose after a career on stage, is prompted into making a major life decision that will, ultimately, take him down a unique path.

Where did the inspirations for this rather somber story come from?

I’d say that before reading this it would be best for a viewer to watch the film beforehand as this will certainly contain spoilers!

I wrote Dinosaur after the unexpected death of my grandparents, who committed suicide together, with it I hope to open up a dialogue and challenge people to think about the way in which the elderly are treated in western society as well as ask questions of our views on self-determination. It was particularly polarising for our family, with some relatives viewing their decision very negatively and others respecting it, that is really what made me think about approaching the subject and it’s also a way for me to explore those feelings personally.

The west is dominated by individual-oriented societies that have evolved medical technologies and therapeutics to the point at which we can sustain life for longer than we ever have, yet in these societies we have failed to sufficiently set up care for those who become dependant through old age. This has lead to the elderly suffering increasingly at the hands of loneliness, isolation and discomfort.

The elderly, for the most part, believe that they do not wish to be a burden on the next generation, and so it is that the elderly in western societies often suffer in silence. There is much that can be done allowing the elderly to age with dignity and die with grace; support networks rather than isolation and palliative care rather than years of expensive, invasive procedures aimed at keeping a person alive for as long as possible are just a couple of examples.

As a predominantly-christian culture we are taught in the west to value life as sacred and, therefore, the idea of taking ones own life, or assisting someone in doing so, is generally frowned upon, both societally and lawfully. but is there ever a case for assisted suicide or euthanasia? that is a question with a multi-faceted answer that is both emotional and ethical, and each of us will have our own view on it.

These issues outlined above are ones which we often shy away from and choose not to speak of but with ageing populations these problems are only set to worsen and we must be prepared to confront them. Dinosaur hopes to, even on a micro level, start conversations around these topics

How did you face the challenge of making a film about loneliness, and keeping it exciting and attaching for the audience?

This was something that myself Jamie and Andrew did think about in the development stage and particularly with the current online attention spans were concerned about holding the audience for long enough to get into the meat of the story but we took the decision to not be led too much by this. We wanted anyone watching the film to be able to really feel the loneliness, as Walter is experiencing it himself but it was important that his character maintained dignity and the audience didn’t pity him too greatly so I wrote him with a bit more personality than your average grieving widower and a level of humour which also helps to keep things interesting. We also used music in particular to drive the story along and offer respite from the large silences.

What was your camera and equipment of choice?

We shot on an Alexa Mini and used Canon K35 primes – Andrew and I wanted to get a look that felt aged like our character, with some imperfections as to add to the idea of the elderly feeling left behind in our modern world. This is why we ended up taking the decision to shoot handheld (as well as helping us save time on set) it added to the frailty of the characters and brought the camera into the story allowing the audience to feel they are observing the story playing out.

How did you find your cast? They both did a formidable job.

We used Spotlight for casting, as the budget was fairly limited we didn’t have many other options but we got an overwhelming response and as soon as we met Ken Farrington we knew he was right straight away, as an actor having worked on soaps he was incredible at picking things up quickly and was always happy to bring something else to scenes himself. For an 82-year-old Ken is full of life and shooting 4 days on the trot with the first being a busy day scattered around a large park he was really an inspiration for everyone working on the project. Anna was a real pleasure to work with as well, so unassuming and kind and wanted to do the best job possible. I’d work with either of them again in a heart-beat and I feel like we got incredibly lucky!