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Cristian Solimeno Made This For You

In his latest feature film, I Made This For You, British director, Cristian Solimeno, looks at a man on the edge who receives a gift which changes his outlook. We caught up with Cristian to discuss his film and the reason he’s letting you watch it for free until the 25th October.

Launched on the 10th September to mark World Suicide Prevention Day, I Made This For You looks at depression through the eyes of actor, Gary Grant. Following a recent attempt to take his own life and shutting himself off from friends and family, the protagonist appears to have reached breaking point, when a DVD is slipped under his door.

The film, made by a close friend, shows his loved ones discussing what he means to them. As it unfolds, we’re privy to the character’s emotional journey, learning what led him to this point and watching as he’s seemingly pulled back from the edge. A comment on how suicide is preventable, not inevitable, Cristian explains why he wanted to make the film:
“I’ve made several films exploring mental illness and I wanted to make something where I wasn’t looking at it from such a bleak perspective. I had this big question in my mind - could you make a film, that if someone on the edge was watching, it might resonate with them and pull them back?”

Cristian wanted the film to feel as authentic as possible, so the accounts given by the character’s friends and family show many sides to his personality. They not only talk about the things they love about him, but also his flaws, his quirks and how the attempt to take his life left them feeling.

“There's something sort of sinister about a generic and downbeat piece. I wanted to make something that was funny, with a lot of life in it. I wanted to get vibrancy out of people, which would mean finding a way of unlocking more from my actors as well.”

Wanting the film to be a safe space for anyone who may be struggling, I Made This For You is not a conventional film - hoping to inspire people to reach out, Cristian is also running an #imadethisforyou social campaign alongside the feature. Inviting people around the world to make something for someone they care about, whether it’s a piece of artwork or loaf of bread. A gentle reminder to us to check in on our friends and family who may be having a difficult time.

Struck by the loss of friend and cast member, Billy Yates, who took his own life during the making of I Made This For You, Cristian initially questioned whether to continue with the film:

“We were talking about suicide in the film and I felt knowledgeable on the topic, but I was missing the conspicuous signs. I’ve learnt I didn’t listen well enough and was too busy trying to offer solutions when we were talking about problems, rather than just being there.”

The loss of Billy eventually underlined the importance of the film and Cristian made it his goal to create a feature that might help to shift someone’s perspective:

“When you're feeling really low your perspective often shrinks. By the time you get to the point where you want to take your own life, you're so fixated on the idea, that it's the only option you can see. It’s important to encourage someone out of that single point perspective and the idea of the film was to bombard you with different perspectives to help dislodge you from that mindset.”

Need support? Worried about someone? CALM’s helpline and webchat are open daily 5pm-midnight. Get access here.

Have you been affected by suicide? The Support After Suicide Partnership is a hub for anyone bereaved or affected by suicide, where you can find emotional and practical support.