Once I has successfully came up with my idea, I had to ensure that my research was extensive and thorough not only due to its delicate subject matter but also to ensure that my film had maximum impact on its audience. My first step when researching was to see if anyone had ever done this, or anything similar to this before. While I was not expecting a lot of other pieces of work, I was surprised at how few pieces of media focus on suicide, or the the letter left behind by those committing suicide. A lot of films had death of a loved one as a focus point but a lot of the time this person had died of natural causes, or of form kind of incurable disease. The film that came closest to having a subject matter similar to my idea was ‘P.S I Love You’ (Richard LaGravenese 2007). In this film a young widow discovers that her late husband has left her a series of message to ensure that she can continue with her life after he is gone. While this film does show the power of words and how they can relate to death, they differ from my film as the messages are not suicide notes.
Not that I was sure that my artefact had a unique angle going for it, I was confident moving on to the next stage of my research, actually finding the suicide notes that would read aloud on camera. I was optimistic that this would not be a difficult task, I felt that suicide notes were such a monumental and precious thing that somebody must have compiled a collection of them. I was sadly mistaken. The first set of suicide notes I came across were of celebrities, I felt that this would give my film a different meaning and make it more about the celebrity than the words being said. I also wanted the notes to be from anonymous ‘characters’ as once again this would take the attention away from the person and direct the audiences attention to the words being said. With this frame of mind I continued searching for a set a suicide notes that I could use.
Eventually I came across a website perfect for what I was after
This website gave me a long list of suicide notes to choose from each of varying lengths. This gave me the perfect opportunity to choose from a variety of letters, and the fact that the do not have ages, genders or names associated with each of them was an added bonus for my project. Now that I had found enough suicides notes to choose from I began narrowing down the list that I wanted to have read out.
My approach to this task was to get a large number of short letters, as oppose to a small number of longer letters. This was primarily because I felt it would keep the audiences interest for longer but also I believed that by having a larger number of letters, it would add to the desired effect of the film. Another factor that I took into consideration was the specific words that were used in the letter, I wanted them to portray strong emotions while at the same time showing the humility of the writer.
Below is the list of suicide notes that I decided to have read out, while I knew that not all of them could feature in the final artefact, I wanted them all recorded so that I could later decide which ones had the most impact.
- “I have no family and no friends, very little food, no viable job and very poor future prospects. I have therefore decided that there is no further point in continuing my life. It is my intention to drive to a secluded area, near my home, feed the car exhaust into the car, take some sleeping pills and use the remaining gas in the car to end my life.”
- “Dear World, I am leaving you because I am bored. I feel I have lived long enough. I am leaving you with your worries in this sweet cesspool – good luck.”
- “If I can’t see my daughter here, I will see her from above…”
- “I’m sacrificing myself to save the countless many who would have to die if I were to live. It’s a noble cause, I figure. A good reason to die. I like to think you’d agree.”
- “When all usefulness is over, when one is assured of an unavoidable and imminent death, it is the simplest of human rights to choose a quick and easy death in place of a slow and horrible one.”
- “Dear Mom, I love you with all my heart. I just wasn’t meant for this world! I hope I can find a place of peace and happiness, a place I am child enough to live, yet man enough to survive. I love you! I hope you can truly believe me. Maybe on my journey I’ll find Jesus. Pray for me mom. Pray I will find happiness. I hurt so bad inside! I want it all to go away. I want a new beginning. I am not afraid to die mom. I’m just so afraid of tomorrow!
Now that I had the notes, it was time to find the voice that would feature in my film, due to not knowing if the notes were written by a male or female, and it would unfair of me to guess, it seemed appropriate that all the notes should be voiced by a single person. Luckily I knew someone who was good at controlling his voice so I asked him if he would mind reading them out on camera and he said yes. Once i got him prepared and gave him the list of notes he asked if I wanted emotion in the speaking or if I wanted them read out in monotone. I considered his question and while my immediate response was to have them read out in monotone, I politely asked if he would read out one of them with emotion. Before he had even finished I decided that I didn’t like it and that the effect would be strengthened by having them read out with no emotion at all. My belief being that if you do not show the audience something in a film I.E a monster or villian, then their creativity creates and exaggerates it for them, and this is the effect I wanted but with emotions instead.
Now that I had all the components ready, I was comfortable moving onto the next stage on making my artefact, filming and editing.