A star-studded cast will feature in a poignant new film about assisted suicide by award-winning Falkirk film maker Katie White.
Killing Me Softly With Her Love tells the story of terminally ill teenager Jessica who wants to finally take control of her body after years of ill-health and asks her mother to help her take her own life on her 18th birthday.
The film contains high drama as well as some comedic elements while exploring the complexity of human relationships.
Jessica is portrayed by 20-year-old Briony Monroe, who also starred in The Black Gloves, Matriarch and Eggshells, while Kate Dickie of Game of Thrones and Prometheus fame takes on the role of her mother, Angela.
Another key character in the film is Jessica’s nurse, Mark, played by Kevin Guthrie who is perhaps best known for his starring roles in Dunkirk, Sunshine on Leith and Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindewald.
Former Scottish BAFTA nominee Katie, who wrote the script and is also co-producing the film, said she was “extremely humbled” that such a high calibre of actors wanted to be involved in the project.
‘One of those rare pieces that has the audience and reader hooked from the first image of the opening scene until the last’
“I am so grateful to them all and honestly could not have asked for a better cast.
“I have such high respect for them all and know they are all perfect for the roles they are playing. They are also such down-to-earth, lovely individuals.
“I always had Kevin in mind for the role of Mark – I had watched him in various films and just knew he’d be perfect so I was over the moon when he instantly said he would love to be involved as soon as he’d read the script.
“Kate Dickie was equally keen to be involved from the outset too which was incredibly humbling and she has worked with Kevin before so they have a great rapport.
“As a mother herself, she said the script really touched her and she is such a fantastic actress.
“Briony’s portrayal of Jessica is brilliant too. It is a hugely challenging role to play but from the start she has shown such passion and enthusiasm.”
The film is being directed by renowned Scottish independent film director Colin Ross Smith and will be edited by Charlie Francis who previously worked with Katie on her award-winning film Middle Man.
Killing Me Softly With Her Love opens with police interviewing Guthrie’s character, Mark, who, as Jessica’s nurse, is implicated after her death, even though he had no knowledge of the assisted suicide pact whatsoever.
The story then cuts between the police interview and the day of Jessica’s death, offering viewers an insight into her life.
What follows is an emotionally-charged journey of drama and tragedy tinged with tender moments of humour between mother and daughter.
Because of the sensitive nature of the story, Katie, who has personal experience of suicide in her own family, says she understands some viewers may find some scenes challenging.
She hopes, however that it will encourage debate and conversation on the subject of assisted suicide on a wider platform.
Throughout the film Jessica’s illness is deliberately never disclosed.
“This is because it’s not important,” Katie explains.
“The main focus is on the relationships between the characters and the complexity of those relationships rather than the illness itself.
“The theme also explores how sometimes the carer can become part of the family and feel as devastated as family members when the person they helped care for passes away.”
Katie believes the title of the film perfectly conveys its message as, ultimately, Jessica is killed with love.
“She wants to take back control. She doesn’t want to go into a hospice to die – she wants to be in control of how her story ends.
“It hit me recently how much of an impact this film could have after watching Louis Theroux’s documentary on assisted suicide which showed families going through this in real life – it was very emotional.”
Filming for Killing Me Softly With Her Love will begin in February at Katie’s cousin Nick Watson’s house in Lauriston.
Kate said: “It will all be filmed there as the setting for the story is a family home. We’re hoping to get it filmed in three days and hopefully out to all the major film festivals by May once it is all edited. It might be only 12 minutes long but it’s very powerful.”
The film has been described as “a story that simply had to be told” by Kevin Guthrie.
“Katie’s script is one of those rare pieces that has the audience and reader hooked from the first image of the opening scene until the last,” the actor said.
“It is bold and unflinching and doesn’t shy away from difficult issues. The characters are true and real as is the world of the family. It is a terrific piece of work.”
Kate Dickie added: “I have a great feeling about this film, and because it is such an original story and isn’t directed at any specific demographic, it will appeal to a broad spectrum of viewers.
“I really think it will do well on the festival circuit and I am delighted to be involved.”
Katie, who previously won an Iris award for her film Middle Man and has since been made patron of the Iris Prize, hopes to win a BAFTA with her new film.
“I was at the Scottish BAFTAs again this year and they said they were looking for more females,” she said.
“Killing Me Softly is not only written by a woman but has four female co-producers – myself, Rhian Howells, Christina Littleson and Elizabeth Freer.
“I’m so proud of it especially as it is being filmed here in Falkirk.”
In order to fund the film and pay for essentials such as equipment hire, costume hire, production design, facilities, catering, travel and fuel Katie has set up a crowdfunding page through the Indiegogo website.
Already £5000 has been raised but to cover all filming costs Katie needs to raise £6000 by January 14.
She said: “This will help see us through the post-production process by using the extra money to finance the colour grade, sound mix, and an overall finish to the film, as well as help us cover the costs for submitting our film to various high-end film festivals around the globe.”
As a reward for contributing to the making of this film, every person who donates or buys a ‘perk’ will get to see the final version of Killing Me Softly With Her Love in a sneak-peak private online release.
“We have had a lot of support for which we are eternally grateful and more than 1100 people have liked our Facebook page which is fantastic.”
To contribute to Katie’s film visit www.indiegogo.com/projects/killing-me-softly-with-her-love