Produced by Academy award-winning Slick Films and starring BAFTA-nominated Helen Behan, 'Suzie' will explore the experience of a middle-aged woman on the day she tells her son she is getting a divorce.
The film will deal with the anguish of preparing and coping with monumental change, confronting the complexity of family life and celebrating the strength shown to find new solutions.
The film follows Suzie on her normal daytime routine. She wakes up, cleans, goes to the shops, prepares dinner and tidies up after her eleven-year-old son Nathan. Throughout the day she seems distracted and on-edge, noticeably conscious of the passing of time.
As evening approaches, she becomes more visibly distressed. By the time her husband, Andy, finally arrives home, she’s on the brink of tears and tells him that she can’t wait anymore. He heads upstairs, while we stay with Suzie.
We hear the distinct sound of a child crying, at which point Suzie breaks down.
Nathan comes downstairs, and while Suzie comforts him, he asks if they can go and see Andy’s new flat.
Our film ends with Suzie standing in the doorway as Andy shows Nathan his new home. We watch her process this whirlwind day and its larger implications; the end of a marriage, the start of something new.
As she processes, Nathan voices his approval of the new flat. A suggestion of pride emerges in her eyes.
DIRECTORS STATEMENT - JIMMY DEAN
"One of the main reasons I want to make this film is that I don’t feel I’ve ever seen someone like my mum on screen. It sometimes feels like middle-aged women from regional towns don’t really exist in British cinema. Lately, we’ve seen beautiful, important stories about female trailblazers and history-makers.
I’d like to compliment that by telling a small, personal story about an everyday super-woman."
Suzie is a stay-at-home mum by choice and the kind of person who puts everyone else first. She’s been raised with strong family values, and her life has followed the path laid out to her; work, marry, have kids, raise a family.
However, her and Andy have fallen out of love, and their relationship has resembled a friendship for several years. She’s not unhappy, but unfulfilled.
She worries how the separation might affect Nathan, it’s been imprinted on her that splitting up a family is a sin, the idea of divorce overwhelms her with guilt. She thinks to herself - a lot of people have it worse.
But, deep down, she knows she can’t go on like this. She knows she has to be the one to change things.
I’m delighted that we’ve cast recently BAFTA-nominated actor Helen Behan in the lead role of Suzie.
I think this film lives and dies on the strength of the performance and I can’t think of anyone better than Helen to tackle this role. She brings such a specific sense of humanity and empathy to the characters she plays; they feel real, layered, complex. Her performance in The Virtues is one of my favourite in recent memory and I feel very privileged to have her on board.
Helen really connected with the script and has very specific experiences growing up with divorce in Ireland, she feels passionately about giving a voice to those who have gone through this experience, specifically about communicating that misplaced sense of guilt and finding the strength to make decisions in spite of societal taboo.
Each scene will be one shot, a static long take, allowing the action to play out within our carefully chosen frame.
In order to reflect the true horror of the story, we have to make our audience endure the day in the same way Suzie does. We have to feel the passing of time in order to truly empathise with her pain of waiting.
The film will build tension through its slower pace and purposeful ambiguity. By withholding the information of impending separation, audiences will be actively trying to work out what the subtext of the film is, before retrospectively re-evaluating what they’ve watched upon the reveal.
The film will take influence from Chantal Akerman’s ‘Jeanne Dielman', Anna Muylaert’s ‘Second Mother’ and Ruben Osteland’s ‘Force Majeure’’ in the way in which it composes beautiful, considered frames and allows the action to play out intoxicatingly within the space. The action will unfold naturally and uninterrupted and force audiences to confront the scene in front of them.
The film will begin in a more observational manner, framing Suzie within her environment, and then moving closer to her as the film progresses. The disruption of her routine is mirrored in our abandonment of wide shots – we’re close to her during the emotional crux of the film, we experience it with her.
Another driving force behind wanting to make this film is to reflect my experience of divorce, which I feel is rarely depicted. My parents’ divorce was amicable. I’m super privileged to say they made the process incredibly easy for me by remaining friendly and working together to make that transition as painless as possible. But I didn’t know it was going to be like that.
Prior to their separation, my experience of divorce was what I’d often seen onscreen; farce, fighting, shouting, conflict, drama about infidelity. That’s what I was expecting when my dad told me.
My experience was actually quiet and understated. It took me a while to understand that no one did anything explicitly wrong, it was just two people who fell out of love. And I haven’t seen that depicted very often and I think it’s incredibly important to show.
- Question: "Where does my money go?"
- Answer: "On the screen of course!"
WRITER + DIRECTOR - JIMMY DEAN
Jimmy Dean is an award-winning Director whose short films have screened and won prizes at international film festivals. His latest short film V was commissioned by Film London as a part of their London Calling slate. The film, starring Synnøve Karlsen (Clique), had its World Premiere at the BFI London Film Festival, received a special mention for Best British Short Film at Encounters Film Festival and was nominated for Best British Short Film at Leeds International Film Festival. It was recently launched online and received a Vimeo Staff Pick. His graduation film Offside was awarded the XX Award for Best Female Representation by Screen International at Underwire Film Festival and was also handpicked by the British Film Council and Into Film for educational programs to be taught within UK schools.
PRODUCER - ASH HORNE
Ash Horne is a Producer and the Creative Director at the Academy Award® winning Slick Films - who won Best live action short at the 90th Academy Awards with 'The Silent Child'.
His projects for 2021 include ‘PLEASE CARE!’ (film) directed by Bertie Gilbert, starring Hugh Skinner. ‘In Too Deep’ (film) directed by Oscar-winning Chris Overton and ‘Hear Art’ a non-profit platform in partnership with The Royal Association for Deaf people which funds and mentors deaf filmmakers.
DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY - ANNA MACDONALD
Anna MacDonald studied Cinematography at NFTS where her graduation film "Come Out of The Woods" won the Panalux Award 2017 for Cinematography and also went to Camera Image for the Official Selection 2017 Student Etudes Competition. Anna has shot extensively around the world on shorts and documentaries in many locations including Kenya, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Romania and India. She is now branching out into more commercial and content work and is working with the likes of Pulse and Chief.
PRODUCTION DESIGNER - GREG BRADLAUGH
Greg Bradlaugh has been working in art department roles as an Assistant Art Director, Model Maker and Concept Artist for several years, with some of his recent credits including; Jurassic World II, Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool, and also the upcoming Netflix film The King, Tom Hooper’s adaptation of Cats and a new film for Marvel, which is currently in pre-production. In the last year, Greg has begun to build up his credits as a Production Designer on various short films, including two of the Creative England/Delaval Film-backed shortFLIX films, Ladies Day and Together They Smoke, as well as the Film London-commissioned V, the latter marking his first collaboration with Jimmy.
'V' (short film - previous collaboration)
Director: Jimmy Dean | DOP: Anna MacDonald | Production Designer: Greg Bradlaugh
This is a film that is very close to my heart and one I passionately want to make. Since starting the project, the lack of visibility of women in their late thirties and forties became more apparent to me as I tried to find good references images. It got to the point where I decided to take my own images starring my mum.
That’s why I think a film like this is so important, we need more stories like this and I think it has real potential to connect with audiences.
We’ve got a super-talented team ready to make it happen. I can’t wait to finally get this story onto the cinema screen and share with audiences around the world.