With all the excitement surrounding the resurgence in production of Invasion of the Not Quite Dead and the launch of the new film website, Steve Taylor-Bryant had an indepth catch up with the man behind the camera, film-maker AD Lane...
Back in the mists of time (about 5 or 6 years ago) I started out on a great adventure. That adventure, nay mission, was writing about film and television. Up until this point I'd lived quite an insular life. I had a Facebook account but that was the extent of my internet usage. I wanted to write, I wanted to interview all the greats like Eastwood, Gilliam, maybe Christopher Nolan because, again, living an insular life meant these were the only film-makers in the world. I was wrong. Within days of expanding my horizons I discovered independent films, I found out about crowdfunding and, at the forefront of this revolutionary (to me) idea, was a man by the name of AD Lane. I invested in his film, Invasion, and spoke on a regular basis to the man himself. I'd interview him sporadically for other publications but, more importantly, we conversed as friends. Then my lifelong big battle with manic depression and anxiety reared its ugly black dog head and a mini breakdown occurred. I withdrew from my company, I withdrew from my real friends and my family, and I shut all my social networking down, as I wasn't feeling sociable at the time. I sought help and thus far (touch wood) avoided a repeat of the lows of that period and I started to rebuild my life. New company, new accounts, you get the picture. However what I didn't get back straight away was the trust of friends, some friends I lost complete touch with and some, it appears, had struggles of their own to fight. Now, this sounds like quite a dark beginning to what should be a celebration of the relaunch of a wonderful project but bear with me as it's important.
When I felt well enough, I threw myself back into the world I'd discovered before the black dog but I was surprised and sad to see Invasion still hadn't been released. Not all crowdfunding projects come to fruition but they are never a waste of money, your investment is in a dream and sometimes dreams fail, but I can't say I didn't feel disappointed as it had excited me and was one of my first funding experiences. However, not one to dwell anymore, I moved on with my life. I admit I didn't give Invasion much of a thought and, I still don't know why, I didn't reconnect with my old friend. Then his name came up in a random conversation with a PR chap I know and I discovered AD also had been suffering, depression had led to Invasion not being made. Before I could ask about his health now I was presented with the opportunity to ask in an official capacity! So, after a very long time, ladies and gents please welcome Mr. AD Lane to tell his own story...
Sir! Welcome back. It's been an age but apparently we have both been through the mill a bit. So I guess firstly... How are you doing?
Why hello there old friend… but rather than do the whole, I’m sorry you’ve had a rough time, let me just go straight to how happy I am that you’re doing good, I think the problem is we can dwell too much on the past & it really can influence our present, then ultimately it can destroy our future, so for you to be here & for me to be here, we both must be doing something right. I say that whilst listening to Radiohead, but in all seriousness, THANK YOU for reaching out to me, and it’s great to have you back…
For those who don't understand the trials and tribulations of mental health issues would you mind sharing your experiences?
You know I’ve had these questions for a few weeks now & I guess the only reason I’m doing it at the 11th hour is because it’s not easy to admit certain things, even harder to share them publicly, which is why a few weeks ago I made a video. I’m a filmmaker and it seemed to be my only way I could express myself, as it was ultimately about my own experiences, my fears, my anxieties, the loss you could create if you don’t admit you have a problem. When I made it, it was very open ended so that it wasn’t just highlighting my troubles but maybe it could be a way to help others suffering from whatever they had or still are suffering from. It then became less about my troubles and how could this video help others, which was its own form of therapy.
I have been a sufferer of a form of depression most of my life. Nothing that would ever touch a radar and, maybe if I’d of chosen a different path, it never would but, when you embark on an obsessive 9 year battle to make a movie, not only does the movie become a huge weight but life outside of it does too… and every insecurity, anxiety, panic attack would now take on a life of its own. I ended up having a mini breakdown, a nervous breakdown, very similar if not very much the same as what you described, except there was one big difference for me. I couldn’t escape what was slowly killing me mentally, I couldn’t close the door completely, instead I kept the door ever so slightly open making myself worse. It took a lot to crawl out, I don’t mind admitting there was a long time I didn’t think I could, but I did… and that's the part to push, I DID… It’s not about looking back now, it's about looking forward, making everyone proud who ever for a second began to believe in me, to beat the demons in my head, the part of me that is convinced I’m no good, or I don’t deserve to be happy or successful, to be the best I can be for my 2 lil ones, they deserve a dad who can stand strong, stand proud, and someone they can look up to. That is my goal, that is my only goal.
Why now for the comeback? I understand wanting to 'get on' with things well but why do you think now is the time?
Well, the comeback isn’t anything to do with my breakdown, I had that in 2013/2014 & was actually in pretty bad shape when I began doing the main INVASION shoot towards the end of 2014. The reason I had to take a year off the film was more to do with looking after my family. My wife is the main breadwinner and she went on maternity, so I had to go into full time work, doing 6 days a week, even working overtime, to pay the monthly costs of INVASION to keep the project alive, but I will admit that year was tough, we’d shot over half the movie and I had to stop filming, there was no choice. I was able to do a little bit here & there but ultimately it was all about providing for my family. A few months ago my wife went back to work & so I could go back down to part time. This then opened up a window to get INVASION back on track, so I spent a few weeks organising a big film shoot based in an old abandoned mental institute. It was such a crazy idea, usually places like that are for urban explorers, to sneak in take a few photos & get out… but I don’t do anything by halves, If I was going to do it, I’d want to sneak in 20+ people in, a van full of costumes, props, tables, a generator, smoke machine film equipment, lighting & a ton of food… so that's what we did… As an independent film maker I’m very much inspired by Werner Herzog and his way of making things happen. When we was filming the intro in Bulgaria in 2011 we took quite a few risks, so it was great to get the old adrenaline going again, to feel alive as a filmmaker. When you don’t have much of a budget it’s about being creative and we have had to get creative a number of times.
Let's talk 'Invasion' now. Remind everyone of the background and how we got to this point?
Well, it’s now been 9 years and a lot of it comes down to being absolutely passionate but ultimately not succeeding in certain areas, but if anyone can say one thing about me, I NEVER GAVE UP. This project has been my absolute passion and then, at times, my biggest nightmare but never once have I ever put serious thought into quitting my dream. My dream is the absolute core of who I am, making INVASION my way is the absolute core of who I am. It’s the reason it’s been 9 years because not once did I sell out. There have been quite a few opportunities to bring in big money to make this film and I’d lose control but, to me, this film is a huge part of who I am, the characters come from me, the original concept is my own. For someone who has spent their entire life without confidence, I am very stubborn & will fight to the bitter end for something I believe in, and it’s only in the last few months I’m starting to believe in myself, so you could say I’ve grown a lot since my breakdown.
Not many people know this story but I never went to my film degree graduation in 2007 because I didn’t feel as though I deserved it. To me making a feature film would be me earning a graduation and, with my sister having 3 graduation photos on my dad's mantelpiece, I promised him that when INVASION is finished I’ll go to the premiere in a graduation outfit and he’d get his photo. Just another reason why I’ve never quit, it’s time we got that photo on his wall and the movie into people’s collections.
What more has to happen for the project to finally see the light of day?
The film is about 65% shot, that’s with me estimating it to have a 2+ hour running time, so it’s just a case of us shooting the last bulk this summer. Then I’ll have a year for post-production, before our launch next summer, which will begin with a UK independent cinema tour, giving all our UK backers a chance to see the film on the big screen for free, as a way of saying thank you. I will be there for each one, to do a Q&A and hopefully meet those who have stuck with me, I’ll also be setting up a line for anyone who has waited 9 years, they put a small pin in me…
How has your process changed since being ill? Are there certain coping techniques you have to incorporate into film production as you knew it before and do you have advice for other people chasing dreams that might also need to fit around a mental Illness?
I think the first problem is admitting there is a problem. I think a lot of people will agree, even when you deep down know there’s something wrong, you will convince yourself its not really an issue, you will brush it off, never fully acknowledge it, for me this went on for years. A lot of it was brought on because I had kidney problems, an iron deficiency problem, and I did find that each time we brought a new life into the world, the stress of providing & not sleeping just enhanced an already deep problem, which then can be made a million times worse when you have 2 feature film projects that you need to finish. One of my biggest things was feeling that, no matter what I did, I was always failing someone, and there was too much thinking about that, working on the film, failing my family because I needed to work, working non-stop to provide for my family, I was failing my film & everyone connected. It was a vicious circle and so I had to make a change, take a risk, start again, which is where we are now. I’m currently taking another big risk to finish this movie but this time I’m thinking more positive, this time I’m thinking I can make everyone proud. But in regards to coping techniques, mine is getting over the fear I’m no good, promoting myself more, getting myself back out there, doing interviews again, building up my confidence, hating myself a little less each day.
Finally, from what I understand this is one of your first interviews since the change in your mental wellbeing. Firstly, I'm honoured you allowed me to be part of that, and secondly why is it so important to be open and honest as opposed to keeping things behind closed doors?
There has been an ongoing thing recently that I say to people, for the last year I was Antony D. Lane, family man, working man, doing everything from children’s classes, photography to editing corporates, wedding videos, anything that will pay the bills. AD LANE is the guy who is making ‘INVASION OF THE NOT QUITE DEAD’, he’s the guy who will take risks, hang off trailers in Bulgaria to get a shot or stand directly in front of a car when it explodes to get a better shot, the guy who would stay awake 106 hours fundraising because he was so passionate about his movie. These are two very different people, Antony was the one who had the breakdown, but its AD LANE who is now in full control, or at least till we get to the finish line, then Antony can put his slippers back on and go back to reading night time stories to his 2 incredible lil ones Daisy & Indie.
I just want to say that life is tough, our brains can sometimes turn into jelly, but that's ok. Just try and figure out what it is that's made it go to jelly and then it's just about self healing. Do whatever it takes to get back on your feet, inspire others, promote what's happened to you and how you made it back. The one thing we all have in common when we’re at our worst, we feel alone, it’s time to speak out. Let's make sure everyone who is still currently suffering knows that they are not alone, those of us who are doing better can reach out & hug those in need, my video is my way of reaching out and if you see me in person, chances are you’ll get a big hug. Didn’t I say, AD LANE is a hugger…