Connect with us

Film News

Exclusive: New trailer for ‘Down’ starring Amanda Donohoe

We are happy to premiere the new trailer for Down a short film starring Golden Globe-winning actress Amanda Donohoe and produced by Hidden Door Productions.

Down follows Alice, played by Donohue, and Ed, played by James Eeles (Darkest Hour, Black Mirror) as two strangers who are trapped together in a lift; one is slowly dying, the other is dying to escape. Ed has just attempted suicide and his life is slowly bleeding away. Alice has Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and is torn between her desperate phobia of blood and her overwhelming desire to save his life. Is it possible that through this unfortunate and unlikely meeting they can help each other?

The film was produced by Karen Newman, whose debut feature “Just Charlie” won the Audience Award at the Edinburgh International Film Festival and the Grand Prix in the Ecran Juniors at the Cannes Film Festival. The film’s director, Garry Crystal is a multi-award-winning director and writer; his short films “Bertie”, “The Fox and the Rabbit” and “Bobby” have been selected for numerous Academy Award and BAFTA qualifying international film festivals. “Down” itself has already screened at Aesthetica and Rhode Island International Film Festival. The team have also started working with the charity OCD Action, MIND and Live Through This with a view to raise awareness of the condition.

The trailer can be viewed below, with a release date for the full film pending.

We also sat down for an interview with Karen and Garry so they can discuss their inspirations behind the film, what drew them to the project and utilising brutalist elements to tell a compelling, empathetic story.

Thanks so much for your time. Tell us why this was a story you wanted to tell?

Garry Crystal: “Down” was inspired by an experience I had when directing a play at university. During the interval of the production, I discovered a man who had just attempted suicide in the elevator of the theatre. I had to help him and thankfully he survived but I always wondered what caused him to do this and what happened to him subsequently. I have known people who have struggled with mental health issues and felt that this could be a unique and interesting situation to explore this theme further.

Karen Newman: In 2012 a very dear friend of mine lost his battle with depression and took his own life, so Garry’s script really resonated with me. “Down” underlines that a person might seem fine upon appearance, but this is often a veneer disguising profound internal turmoil; forcibly hidden away owing to society’s conventions. It is really important that we talk about these things and break down the taboo.

The film tackles a tough topic with humour and humility. Did you find it hard balancing those elements?

GC: Actually no! I think that humour is a very effective method of getting audiences to engage with “serious” topics. If you make someone laugh, they tend to relax and that enables you to broach subjects that they might have resisted previously. Some of my favourite films have juxtaposed humour with drama/ horror and I think this has made them even more compelling- “Jaws”, “La Haîne”, “Pulp Fiction”, “An American Werewolf in London”…even parts of “The Shining” are funny. However, I wanted to be sure that by making this funny I was also respectful to the subject matter and therefore worked closely with the US based “Live Through This”, the UK based MIND charity and OCD action UK to ensure that the script wasn’t inherently offensive.

KN: Humour is a great tool for tackling a difficult subject, it entertains so people are more likely to engage with particular topic. Of-course there are times in “Down” when you laugh and then wonder if you shouldn’t have but it’s a conversation starter and that’s exactly the response we wanted.

What about the films’ themes spoke to you?

GC: Mental health affects many of us. Plain and simple – it is unavoidable. Despite this, it remains taboo and too many people avoid talking about it. I have personally witnessed this and therefore encouraging, even provoking people to talk about their issues, is what appeals to me in making “Down”.

KN: Depression isn’t necessarily something that we can see, and it can take many guises, so it is easy to miss. Slowly we are breaking down the stigma of mental health but there is still a long way to go. OCD is a serious mental health condition ranked by the World Health Organisation as one of the top ten most debilitating illnesses. A condition that is often dumbed down when we refer to people as being a “bit OCD” because they have their books and CD’s in alphabetical order. It ruins lives and the average amount of time for a sufferer to get help is 12 years. We need to do more to bring about awareness of mental health issues, to teach our children that it is nothing to be ashamed of and to offer support to our peers already suffering. It could happen to anyone of us, at any time, anywhere.

The film has done very well at film festivals, scoring selections at Aesthetica and Rhode Island International Film Festival. What do you have planned for the film next?

GC: Thank you! I have just completed the first draft of a feature-length version of “Down” so watch this space!

KN: Thank you, we are really pleased with the response and how well audiences respond to it. We recently won the People’s Choice Award at The Aesthetica Film Festival which was fabulous as audiences voted for us from a total of 400 films. As well as the feature version of ‘Down” we have a couple of other projects in development, we cannot go into too many details sadly, but it is all very exciting.

How did you come to work with Amanda Donohoe?

GC: I’ve always loved her work and saw her play “Miss Julie” in a theatre in Manchester quite a while ago. I thought she would be perfect for the part, so I sent the script to her agent, Amanda read it and the rest is history!

KN: She really loved the script and felt the role was so much more interesting than what she is often offered as an actress of a ‘certain age’ so as Garry has already mentioned, we simply asked. A lot of people forget that actors want to be acting, regardless of where they are on the career ladder.

Visually, which films served as a source of inspiration?

GC: I wanted to go for a brutalist, urban and film noir feel and therefore referred to “Seven” in the mood boards. I also looked at films that had scenes set in elevators and found that “The Departed”, “Drive” and “Silence of the Lambs” were very useful in blocking the scenes. Blood was also a key consideration- as the central character is saturated in it- but I was very keen on it not being too light or fluid in texture! Therefore, I referred to “Pulp Fiction” (the Marvin car scene) and “The Shining”.

How have you found the feedback so far from members of the LGBTQ community and suffers of OCD?

GC: It has been incredibly positive and has been selected for many LGBTQ festivals. We have also been approached by people with OCD for example in Flickers’. Moreover, we have had suicide survivors telling us how the film has resonated with them. To have this response has really been the whole highlight of making this film.

KN: It has been quite incredible actually and has really proved that films are inherently powerful and effective mediums for encouraging education and bringing about change. We have had a lot of very interesting Q&A’s where people have opened up about their own struggles and even an American Psychologist expressed an interest in using the film as part of his teaching as he felt it was so effective. The themes are very personal to both myself and Garry so we have been delighted by the response the film is generating.

What do you have planned in terms of new projects in the near future?

GC: In addition to making a feature-length version of “Down”, we are developing a TV drama series based on an acclaimed historical book which I have optioned as well as developing another feature movie, which is a dark comedy. But I don’t want to jinx any of these projects so for the time so I’m afraid I can’t elaborate. I’m going to have to paraphrase Danny DeVito in “LA Confidential” and simply state that it’s all “on the QT, and very hush hush”, but stay poised for future news!

KN: I feel 2020 is going to be a really exciting year. Garry and I have a few things in the pipeline so watch this space as they say. I am also in pre-production for a film about the Essex Witch Trials which will be shot next year. It is going to be a busy year!

“Down” is currently screening at several film festivals around the world. For more information on OCD Action, MIND and Live Through This, head over to their websites.


Latest Posts


More in Film News