The day I died (on Facebook)

So yesterday was a weird one. I woke up to 4 missed calls 9 texts and a bunch of Facebook messages. Apparently I killed myself.

Not a nice thing for people to think might have happened and unfortunately someone actually did.

It all came from a miss explained post.

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Pete is Steve’s cousin. And from this note, you might interpret that I wasn’t with us anymore – The RIP Ben bit. 

It was in fact a man called Ben Stone. – I found out later,  and once you know that it’s a very sad post. Another poor man, another poor family hit by suicide. And poor Pete for going through another suicide in his life.

In those hours between knowing it was a mistake about me, friends were worried. Friends believed it. One even said it was the worst 2 hours of his life. Which is quite flattering.

Unfortunately I didn’t know Ben Stones,  by as it hit home my concerns were for all the people who read it, thinking that I had died. I  also began to worry about Pete.

What had happened?

He had posted it at 2 am  – I know he runs a pub, so was it a late finish or was he drunk, was he distraught. Did he think it was me? Or had he lost someone else and had miss tagged him.

That was sort of the case. He Knew it was Ben Stone, and wanted to make me aware of another man talking his own life – I just happened to be call Ben as well.

It was really interesting to think about it.

The people who checked. Those who knew it was a mistake and those who may have seen it and maybe didn’t know what to do. But that’s how quickly it can happen. Someone saying this has happened and you are suddenly looking at the world differently.

When my mate Gibbo found out I was ok, he asked me if….

“Be honest with me have you got some social stunt happening presently?

It had Me and Das totally freaking out.”

To which I replied. “That’s a very dark way of raising awareness (and I’m not the clever)”

My condolences are with Ben Stones family. I am sorry they are going through this. I wish they weren’t. I’m thankful I’m still alive (i was always here, it was just a bit weird to think people might think I’m dead) and all the messages since have actually made me feel really loved and know that if I ever got to that very dark place then there’s lots of people who love me and want me here.

It’s such a shame Ben Stone didn’t get that chance. Because I know the world is better place with him in it. I hope you all know that the world is a better place with you in it. Because suicide is preventable. And I don’t want to get “that” message about anyone reading this. 

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The Premiere

Well it’s taken me nearly 3 weeks to get through all the well wishing emails and potential ideas for screenings, so I’m finally able to come down and write about it.

Wow. What a night. 300 people. Camera crews. Photographer. People travelling down from Halifax, Margate, London, Ireland.  It was humbling. It was amazing. It was emotional. It was hard.

But it’s done. It was concluded with a standing ovation. Which floored me.

We have now had 33 men say to me that through the making of the film or reading this blog that they are going to get help.

It’s amazing. And the past 15 months have been full on. Now the real work begins. Getting the film out there.

IMG_7458Such a beautiful venue.IMG_7490A bit of preparation.IMG_7575Paul, Producer Neil and Merlin sharing a laugh. IMG_7648Joe and his wife came down from Halifax.IMG_7662Ahh the old school lot.  love you guys:)IMG_7764Starting to fill up.IMG_7687Dr Kate Woods, telling us what she’s up to – and Chris getting in on the shot.IMG_7737Ahhh Blue O in the house. IMG_7779A proud moment. IMG_7947The family getting their spot.IMG_7929As everyone else takes their seats. IMG_7986Luv ya Gavin Thorpe, playing the opening title song “Gold”.IMG_8050Hello everyone thank you for coming. IMG_8017The team getting to say their piece. And now lets get on with the film.J8fyzVJ6SzCTb4Ob7SMQKQTo finish with that Standing ovation.  And amazingly humbling feeling.IMG_8036Wow. Thank you.

 

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2 Days to go: The Tech Recce.

Yesterday Gav, Claire and I went to St George’s Hall, Bristol to see how the film will look and sound on the night.

Gav is going to play “Gold” the track on the trailer:

before the screening, so he wanted to make sure the sound system worked for what he wanted so we all went down together and walked into the hall with the awesome Ben Spencer.

Him and the team at St George’s have been amazingly supportive (and generous) with putting on the Premiere for us.For those of you who haven’t been to St George’s Hall it isn’t just impressive it’s inspiring.IMG_8011

IMG_8012The building dates back to the 1820’s this Georgian Hall with amazing history and acoustics is the venue of choice when it comes to choirs, orchestras, good good Jazz, and me.1vykkk%lQnWc5VWM4eYyDg

As we pulled down all the blinds and played the film – suddenly my voice booming around the hall, was actually a bit overwhelming. How did I end up here? 

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I never thought, in my wildest dreams, that 18 months after sitting on a bench on a park, pouring my heart out as I read Steve’s letter, I would be standing on the stage of an opera hall checking that 200 people can hear 106 minutes film I‘ve made.

The fact that it’s an opera hall is typical of this project. The fact that it’s not typical, the fact that it’s not a cinema, is what it’s all about. This is a celebration of all the hard work all the people who have contributed to the film. To celebrate his life. To celebrate all the great people we’ve meet.

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Prepping for the Premiere.

I’ll be honest I have been a bit on auto pilot for the past few weeks.
Getting St Georges sorted. Talking to journalists, getting the trailer finished, the posters printed and making sure everyone is invited.
It felt mechanical, it felt operational, it felt unreal.
But when I went to pick up the postcards,  I opened up the box, in some sort of weird excitement, then it was like I got hit by as truck.

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Seeing his face spun me out. I sat in my car and cried. Only a bit. But enough to feel silly.
As I looked at the 1000 postcards with his face looking up at me. I felt sad. Really sad.  This film was suddenly very very real.  It has been an 18 months of emotional rollercoaster,  but with the 200 people coming – from all over the country,   I can’t hide behind ” it’s only a rough cut” anymore –  This is basically it. This is the best I can do to remember him. To tell his story. To save the next Steve.
There is nothing I can do to bring him back. But this is my best attempt to make his death mean something. His life meant so much to so many people, he just didn’t realise that.

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This is the pull up banner – Currently in my living room.  I miss ya mate.

And those interviews? Well I haven’t seen the articles yet but i have full trust in the fantastic journalists who are willing to help spread the Steve Story.

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This is Lowie Trevena from Bristol 24/7. Her article will go HERE when done.

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And this is James. James is a Photographer at Bristol Post, He took the shots while Robin Murray wrote the words. Robin’s article will go HERE

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And the reverse of this shot will go below:

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The Poster (and the Tattoo)

When promoting a film it’s all about the poster. For me it helps crystallise what the film is about. The idea of the documentary was to try to find some good from such a tragic story. That if one man thinks again and stays in this world, to save the next Steve. So for me the Poster was always going to reflect that – so what if we simply recreated a picture of Steve using the photos of the 1000’s of men we hope this film will help?

This was my original sketch.

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And this is what the amazing Ollie Aplin creator of Mind Journals  and  Well and Good Studios here is what he created.

Steve_Poster(S)And if you look  closely you can see what I mean. Screen Shot 2019-03-15 at 14.26.23

While this was being designed – I felt I needed to do something for me and Steve.

Steve called me Mr A. (AKERS) I called him Mr Y. (YATES)  –  So I designed and had this tattoo done.

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“The George” changing it’s name to “The Steve” for one night only.

Well we have a finished film. (Well almost – the sound is being finished by our friends at Rumble Studios in Sydney) but we will have one by next Thursday. Well we better have – because……..We have a Premiere. Thursday the 21st of March 2019 at St Georges Hall in Clifton, Bristol.

Here is the finished trailer:

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It’s a fantastic venue.

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With so much history.Screen Shot 2019-03-14 at 22.20.58

And now with a week to go……. There is only a handful of tickets left.Screen Shot 2019-03-14 at 22.28.56

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It’s been a while. We’ve been busy.

Yep, where have the past 3 months gone. Seriously I don’t know.
We’ve been in heavy post production, getting the final edit right.
The opening titles, the closing credits and everything in between.

We learnt a lot from the pre-screening of the 80% cut – and filming the day.
Watching peoples faces and the things they said afterwards blew me away.

But it’s all about the last 20%. How we begin the film. How we keep it positive. How we end the film.

And when we put the sections together Sam (our Editor) said to me:
“You might want to sit down for this one” – which is rare for him to be so proud of a cut – normally he so understated. But he was right. The Beginning had Claire in tears and hit me like a punch in the face. It’s real. It’s honest. It’s confronting.  It will hopefully set the scene for what is a film that we hope will save lives.

The final film is now 106 minutes long.  It goes even further into the way real men feel about their own mental health and embraces what really happens. It also allowed me to use the footage of The first ever Steve Yates Shield and hopefully helped them.

The only downside of making a 106 minute film is the amount of times you have to watch it, check it, watch it again. And again. And again. And again. To make it right.  Normally this is fine, almost enjoyable. Crafting something. Getting it right. But I’ll be honest this wasn’t. I didn’t enjoy crafting this. I didn’t enjoy looking at hours and hours of old footage of Steve and I. I didn’t enjoy,  seeing his mum cry again and again.  No I didn’t enjoy that.

One thing that was very important was protecting the identity of 3 men who gave me their very honest account of their own mental health experiences.

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This is us Blurring out “Anonymous 1” at the amazing post production house Films @59 who we couldn’t have completed this film without.

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This is Alexis – “Doing the colour”  basically going through every shot in every scene – and masking it brighter, richer, more beautiful. He’s taking footage from different  cameras in different lights and trying to make them all look even and the same.

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As you can imagine it takes a while.

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Next thing to do is the Voice Over. I hate my voice at the best of times.

It’d even worse when I’m watching me fumble through 106 minutes of film – trying to talk and make it make sense.

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Always changing things.

IMG_7818What JT said was far better that what I could come out with. Thank you so much to George, Alexis, Tom and Martin, and all at Films @59  – you’ really lifted the look and feel of the film.  Thank you.

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