E36 Frank Berry: Filmmaker


In episode #36 I was joined by filmmaker, teacher, and friend Frank Berry. Frank’s latest award winning feature film, I Used To Live Here, is an examination of the phenomenon of suicide clusters told entirely using a cast and crew from an area affected by one such cluster.

The main characters of the film, brilliantly portrayed by Jordanne Jones and Dafhyd Flynn, take us on an intimate journey through the daily victories, defeats, fears, and loves of teenage life. The film has long moments of silence into which we, the viewers, pour our own memories and experiences of the vagaries of adolescence.

Our conversation included;

  1. Frank’s decision to switch the story from documentary to drama.
  2. Why Frank chose to shoot the film using non-actors from the area the film is set, Killinarden.
  3. The advantages/disadvantages of collaborative projects.
  4. The ethics of shooting in disadvantaged areas.
  5. The phenomenon of suicide clusters.
  6. Possible responses to emergence of suicide clusters.
  7. How Frank’s last 2 films have changed his approach to teaching.

Enjoy the episode. Dave


You can follow Frank on twitter here.
Check out the film's facebook page here.
The article by Tony Bates that inspired the film can be read here.



3 thoughts on “E36 Frank Berry: Filmmaker”

  1. I think the strategy of keeping the media from reporting on the Bridgend cluster was well meaning; there is a lot of evidence of impressionable young people being very affected by seeing such reporting—and not just once or twice but almost daily. The media used their outlets as memorials for those who died. I can understand being susceptible to a desire for the same sympathy and love mixed with the very real heartbreak of losing friend after friend after friend in a way that does not leave behind any answers. Bridgend is haunting because almost no one left behind a note to, at the very least, give friends and family some resolution in what they were thinking. These kids were almost plucked right out of the lives of the community and people, rightly, wanted to make sense of it. Wanted to understand. Because it was so extreme there, I think restricting the media was, at least, an attempt to curtail what was happening. (I think there’s an argument to be made for media simply reporting vs sensationalizing AND those of us who want to study what happened there are handicapped, now, because there are so few available records).

    But, back to openly discussing suicide. As with every topic, there is a right and wrong way to approach this. I definitely do not think it should be banned from our public discourse. For example, I have had resistant mental illness most of my life and as a result I have tried to die numerous times. Each time, I acted on things I had been told by others or had picked up in conversations. My step mom told me when I was 17, in passing, that overdosing on aspirin would “simply stop your heart”…”like that” and snapped her fingers. I never forgot that and that sounded like a decent way to go. I tried and tried and failed so eventually I looked up the lethal dose for my weight and took double of it. I assumed I would fall asleep and not wake up. I also took a bunch of sleeping medicine, just in case. I stayed up until 430 looking at pictures of my son, crying and writing him letters. I finally went to bed with his bebe, his picture, his blankie and the last outfit he wore.

    I knew, for sure, that the pain bc of MI was going to finally be over, even though I was scared. I only took comfort in knowing I’d ease into it and it wouldn’t hurt.

    And I was super f**king wrong!! I woke up 1.5 hours later in the worst pain of my life. I couldn’t breathe and my chest was painfully tight. I just knew I was having a heart attack and was sure I was going to be awake and feel myself die. I was confused because I took so much medicine…I was not even able to call for help. I was lucky to have a friend who was very in tune with how fragile I was at the moment and based on a bizarre text I’d sent, called 911 for me, from a different state.

    I was treated like shit in the ER and left to wonder for hours if I was actually dying or not. I had to get dialysis because my kidneys could not manage removing the aspirin from my body without irreversible damage. I was told before they put a huge catheter in my groin that if things went wrong, I could bleed to death. I spent days in the ICU. My “aspirin” level was above 500 when I was admitted and it needed to be below 50 before I was stable to move on to the psych ward.

    Not talking about this stuff means that stories about the reality of suicide are pushed to the side. There are horror stories of attempts…enough to make me think again and again and I’ve been ready to die for decades. Sorry, if I grossed you out… I just think suicide, real suicide, should always be open for discussion. The realistic side of it.


It's good to talk

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