Elaine Livingstone spoke to Connect director Marilyn Edmond for this article in Glasgow Live - https://www.glasgowlive.co.uk/news/glasgow-news/glasgow-lives-marilyn-37-queens-16026818. Below is the text.
As a film director, Marilyn has been involved in films like Sunshine on Leith, The Legend of Barney Thomson and Under the Skin. Today she explains why she loves her job and how mental health has played a big part in inspiring her recent work.
I've worked in film and television for years. I was an assistant director and worked on films like Sunshine on Leith, The Legend of Barney Thomson and Under the Skin. I've also worked on the TV series’ River City and Benidorm.
I had my little girl four years ago and stopped working as an assistant director. When my daughter was 2, I wanted to get back into work. I always wanted to produce and direct rather than continue to work as an assistant director. I wasn’t getting any younger and thought, it was time to go for it.
I got back to work by writing, producing and directing my first feature film, Connect.
The film follows the story of Ryan, a young man who's battling his mental health. At the beginning of the film we see him trying to take his own life, and then he's saved by a stranger. We follow Ryan's journey as he starts to embrace his life, connects with his family, and falls for a girl whilst continuing to battle his mental health.
I decided to write and make Connect because I was working up north on the series Outlander, getting extras from the area to work on the production.
There was a guy there who became an extra for me, and the following year he worked as an extra on the show for me again and we became friends. I remember him posting on Facebook ‘Life's amazing, I've got a new job, a new girlfriend, life could not be any better.’ Three months later I could see from his Facebook page that something really bad had happened. I messaged one of his friends and asked what had happened to him and she told me he had killed himself. My brain couldn't compute it, because his previous posts, just a few months before, were so positive and happy, and the next thing you know....
What really struck me, was that he was only 23. At the time I was probably 33 and I thought that the last ten years of my life had changed so dramatically and this young man was just at the start. It was just so sad.
It always stuck with me, so when I decided I wanted to make a film, mental health was the first idea that came into my head. There had also been loads in the media about mental health, so I thought it was a good subject to make a film about. Everybody knows now about this subject, but still people aren't asking for help when they really need it.
I think if somebody tells you that they're not feeling the best, I would urge them to either phone the Samaritans or go to a medical professional and seek help. I think sometimes friends and family can be really supportive but at the same time, can be not so supportive because they try to make you feel better by telling you you'll be fine or you’re just going through a bad phase. I think ultimately everybody has to always ask for help. I think that men really struggle to speak about their problems and as much as this subject is current, there still doesn't seem to be much change. I like that fact that after we did our world premiere screening of Connect as part of this year’s Glasgow Film Festival, we had a discussion about the film and there were men in the audience talking and explaining their situations and what had happened in their lives, so I was pleased that it got people talking.
I hope to take Connect to more film festivals later this year and I’m working on the applications for them now. The film will also be specially screened for MSP's at the Scottish Parliament in May.
I want to keep directing. Producing is a by-product of that I suppose. I always want to write and direct. My new film that I'm currently writing is about new mums and their struggles, but I want it to be light-hearted as well as highlighting the serious aspects of what it means to be a new mum.
I love my job. I was thinking the other day, I want to hurry up and make something else because I miss being on set. I've also wrote another short that I'd like to make as well. I'd never made anything before so I jumped in on a feature film and now I want to make a short film about dementia, showing the frightening side of dementia - from both the person suffering from it and the family or care’s perspective. I want to do many more things - meaningful things. There always seems to be that theme with me - I like to get a message out there.