MetFilm School London hosted a Masterclass with Last Breath Co-Director, Alex Parkinson and Producer, Al Morrow, from MetFilm Production on Tuesday 7 May.

Alex told the audience how Last Breath came about.

“I first heard about the story when I was out with my family. I bumped into Richard (da Costa, the film’s Co-Director). We’d met about three years before working on another film. We got chatting and he told me about this unbelievable diving story.”

Da Costa has previously made the story into a corporate advert for the oil industry. After two minutes of watching, Alex knew this needed to be a documentary, and began working it into a feature-length film.

Alex and Richard were then introduced to Al through a mutual industry connection.

“Normally for a documentary you write a proposal, which is a couple of pages long. Alex created a whole storyboard – which was amazing!”  Al exclaimed. “The guys had a brilliant story and extraordinary archive footage. For me, that’s why we had to make this into a documentary.”

About how to keep viewers gripped from start to finish “You have to write a very detailed script. You’ve got to try it to see if it works, and then be brave enough to cut it if it isn’t working”, Alex said.

“In film you’ve got a captive audience. If they’re in the cinema, they’re there to watch the film. In TV, you can lose them, so it’s a different kind of storytelling. Keep each episode different.”

Alex isn’t new to the world of documentary filmmaking; his previous work includes the National Geographic series Primal Survivor and the ‘extreme-angling’ factual series Mighty Rivers.

Archive is key in documentary. Reconstruction is a great way of blurring things together, but you need a good archive to make it accurate. If you use both together, and do it well, the audience won’t even notice because they’re following the story.” 

Last Breath has been screened Hot Docs 2019 and the Glasgow Film Festival.

The film is currently scored 92% on Rotten Tomatoes and 8.2 out of 10 on IMDB. It can be watched on BBC iPlayer.

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