Nobody Loves You and You Don't Deserve to Exist January 2021
Tragedy ... Trauma ... Truth ...
Heart beaten, mind shattered, a grieving English teacher embarks on an existential journey through the cathedrals, canals and crevices of Gothic Manchester, haunted and hounded by terrifying psychotic episodes as he struggles to come to terms with the dark secrets of a forgotten past.
‘Everybody needs someone special in their lives so they feel better about themselves, don’t ye think?’
Filmed from 2019 to 2021, and throughout the global coronavirus pandemic, Brett Gregory’s NOBODY LOVES YOU AND YOU DON’T DESERVE TO EXIST is an urgent and challenging story about the tragedy, trauma and truth of grief, and the psychological and emotional effects this can have on the male psyche.
Starring a wide range of brilliant independent actors from the North West of England, we accompany Jack as a 13 year old, a 21 year old and a 50 year old Mancunian as he battles through the abuse and brutality of his working class upbringing at the end of the 20th century and on to his descent into a middle class maze of amoral manners and machinations at the beginning of the 21st. Or do we?
The women in his life – his counsellor, his sister, his grandmother, his former teacher, his boss, his neighbour, his lover, his lover’s mother! – each tell a different story about Jack, leaving us to question the nature of our shared perceptions, how we represent each other, the validity of our memories and the fortitude of our moral judgements.
With an original and compelling Gothic soundtrack by Andrew McCrorie-Shand, it is impossible to watch this film without considering how we ourselves would deal with the inevitable loss of a loved one and, in turn, reflect upon the strength (or weakness) of the bonds we have between ourselves and our own families, our own friends and our own futures. That is to say, are we really loved by others? Do we really love ourselves? If so, then how much?
‘My grief is my grief. I’m not a fucking idiot. I had to learn it all by myself in the shadows and the shite, didn’t I, because no-one ever visited and no-one ever rang.’
NOBODY LOVES YOU AND YOU DON’T DESERVE TO EXIST draws heavily on Brett Gregory’s own personal experience of losing a very close friend very suddenly in 2013 and, in a number of ways, its writing and development can be regarded as a raw yet cathartic attempt to confront, rationalise and learn from the trauma, the fatalism and the depression.
This creative approach also serves as an intimate and detailed exploration of masculinity in contemporary English society and culture, a nation painfully reserved, reticent and non-supportive when confronted by the awkward, the embarrassing, the unconventional and/or the taboo, i.e. male mental health, anger, violence, isolation and self-immolation, as well as intelligence, sensitivity, lyricism, reverie and the Absurd.
A further creative catalyst behind the film’s conception is Hieronymus Bosch’s 15th century painting, ‘The Garden of Earthly Delights’: a surreal and exhaustive medieval triptych which can be seen to present itself as a morality play writ large, its crude and exotic panels working as a wonderful three-act narrative structure delineating Innocence, Temptation and the Fall from Grace.
Following selective readings of the King James Bible, it thus became apparent that NOBODY LOVES YOU AND YOU DON’T DESERVE TO EXIST would work most effectively as an example of ‘confessional cinema’ in generic terms and, in keeping with this cornerstone of the Judeo-Christian tradition, as a chorus of confessional monologues in stylistic terms.
‘The first six months at university were a steep learning curve, man.’
Work on the screenplay began in 2016 and an overly long, detailed and manic draft was completed in 2018. In an effort to pare this down to a more streamlined and cinematic narrative Brett decided he would have to digitally storyboard and animate every single frame, sequence and scene.
This would probably take at least another 6 months to carry out but, yet again, it would save both time and money in the long run, as well as clearly determine the pace and precision of the story’s direction.
At this time however, during a night out, Brett tripped over a bollard while walking home from Manchester city centre, landing on a kerb and shattering his knee-cap. Following 9 days in the Male Trauma Ward at Manchester Royal Infirmary screws were then inserted into his tibia and fibula, and he was consigned to a wheelchair for the next 3 months.
‘Perfect!’ he announced, rationalising that this new-found disability would not only discipline his work regime, chaining him to his storyboards and script redrafts, but it would also keep unwanted distractions at bay.
By this stage Gwyn Hemmings (cinematographer) and Rob Edwards (camera/lighting assistant) were on board with the project and together the three of them shot the film’s nightmare sequences. Passionate, thoughtful and loyal, Brett had worked with both of them on various small-scale film and video projects over the years and so both were ‘used to his ways’.
The filming equipment they used (a Canon 5D, for example) was, in the main, that which had been left over from Serious Feather’s previous productions, in particular the music documentaries ‘Iceland: Beyond Sigur Ros’ (2010), ‘Manchester: Beyond Oasis’ (2012) and ‘Liverpool: Beyond the Beatles’ (2015).
Other than this the production had no budget at all and, due to the non-commercial nature of its content, as well as the persistent under-funding of progressive arts in the North of England, it had no prospect of ever acquiring a budget either. Naturally, this reality eventually started to takes its toll: Brett’s relationship with his girlfriend began to strain, creative workflow became interrupted and, disenchanted, various production assistants came and went.
As a result, Brett was forced into securing temporary work lecturing in Film and Media Production at a University Centre in Greater Manchester to help pay off the debts he had accrued to date (loans, credit cards, overdrafts) while developing, designing, researching and planning a film that was to be called NOBODY LOVES YOU AND YOU DON’T DESERVE TO EXIST, a title which hopefully no-one would forget.
Before taking up this employment position Brett (now on crutches) did have vague hopes that he might meet up with like-minded film and media freelancers amongst the teaching body but, sadly, these hopes failed to materialise: the course was poorly organised, its content was non-specialist and lacked rigour, the staff were not particularly passionate or knowledgeable about moving image as an art form and, inevitably, nearly all of the students were left uninspired, unmotivated and devoid of character.
Except for two of them.
Both 20 years old, Jack Clarke introduced himself as a nascent producer who would work feverishly around the clock, often without sleep, on 3 projects at a time; while James Ward was a raw and over-active theatre actor who was just about cocky enough to actually make his grandiosity believable.
Thankfully, as soon as Brett discussed NOBODY LOVES YOU AND YOU DON’T DESERVE TO EXIST with them in depth, they immediately jumped on board.
‘Let’s make a movie!’ proclaimed James.
‘I suppose,’ agreed Jack.
Their arrival at the beginning of 2019 provided the production with a much needed shot in the arm and their innate energy and enthusiasm for change, achievement and ego propelled everybody else forward.
Wavering faith in today’s ‘yoof’ was also somewhat restored when it was discovered that both of them adored 1970s cinema, particularly Coppola’s ‘The Conversation’ (1974).
Thus, while Brett and Jack prepared a strategy for casting the film’s 8 female characters via social media and self-tapes, James began reading and rehearsing the 21 year old protagonist’s 17 minute monologue.
‘Hey, this isn’t your normal everyday entertainment bollocks,’ commented James after first reading the script. ‘This is like real life!’ Meanwhile, Brett’s 3 year relationship with his girlfriend, Jenny, had reached its inevitable end.
It was great to work with the SF team on this shoot. Brett has a real eye for detail and this really helped me to get in the zone, as I'm mostly a stage actor! The location and set up was all ready to go when I arrived and despite a few 'natural lighting' issues (and some hasty curtain set ups!) the shoot was totally professional from start to finish and loads of fun to be involved in. I'm so pleased with how the final edit came out. Thank you!
Brett (the director) was meticulous in setting the scene, paying great attention to detail to ensure everything was perfectly in place. The crew were lovely to work with and I think the finished scene looks great.
I recently had the privilege of filming with Serious Feather on their next great indie film. The passion from all of the dedicated, professional and very friendly crew was second to none! I immediately felt at ease and enjoyed my entire time filming with these talented and very experienced people. I was so impressed by the wonderful attention to detail they input into every single element whilst filming.
Thank you, Serious Feather, for allowing me to be a part of this great film.
Serious Feather are a pleasure to work with; their excellent balance of professionalism and good humour makes for a fun and focused shoot. They generously offer time at the start of the shoot for actors to acclimatise and warm into the work, which was hardly necessary as they had me feeling welcome and ready to roll straight away. Throughout the shoot I felt at ease and supported by the crew, who would check in with me and offer artistic and technical direction and regular tea refills - this was a prop, in fairness, but they certainly knew how to get the best out of me! All in all, I had a great time filming with Serious Feather, and would gladly work with them again.
I saw the casting call on Facebook and upon looking at their website and other work I knew they would be great to work with.
Communication with all the Serious Feather team was constant and immediate, asking dietary requirements and providing the relevant costumes etc.
I could not have been happier with the footage. The editing and the quality were fantastic, and I will be able to pick and choose which bits I would like to use on my showreel.
Being able to film a scene with a lengthy monologue was a great learning experience. I’m looking forward to seeing the next scenes develop, so if you get the opportunity to be involved do not hesitate.
Working with Serious Feather was a brand new experience for me as I'd never acted for camera before, but after having read the scene emailed to me I knew it was going to be a clever, gritty and challenging piece of work.
I found the process interesting and loved working with all the crew.
They were happy to answer all the questions I had about the different equipment being used and their lighting and sound methods.
The shoot itself was fun, and it felt very rewarding when I finally watched my scene. I can't wait to watch the whole film!