One of the things I tried to do when I was writing the script for Kaleidoscope Man was to create characters that were real. This took me a long time and to some pretty dark places.
I wanted our lead characters, Tom and his wife Mandy, to be coming to terms with a tragedy that had happened a few years earlier. This was to provide an anchor that is holding them both back at the start of the story. Doing this enables the potential for interesting character arcs as they move forward through the film.
Thirteen years ago, my wife and I lost our first child during the 42nd week of her pregnancy. This hit us both very suddenly and very hard – and we never really knew why our baby died. Now, I had never planned to use this type of tragedy for my story, but as I was developing the characters, it just sort of happened. Losing our child was such a moving experience I just felt so compelled to draw from it.
For the story, I changed the actual details, Tom and Mandy lost their child at the age of three and although they were both counselled very well (as we both were), they never really get over it, they just have to come to terms with it. When my wife became pregnant again, I was haunted by a strange nagging question; how could we ever replace our first child? Of course hindsight has shown me that the two daughters we now have are not replacements, just sisters to their bigger sister who they never saw.
At the start of the movie, Mandy tells Tom that she is finally pregnant again and that at last they can move forward from the tragedy of the past. Great news for them both. But Tom is troubled by the same question I was; how can a new baby ever replace the first? Once I decided to use this as his back story (which believe me, was unsettling), it suddenly gave him real depth and a real purpose. He is a man lacking hope and needs to find it again.
A few weeks ago, we finally shot the scene where Tom visits the grave of his daughter. He knows that Mandy is pregnant again but he is seriously struggling to hold things together. The scene was beautifully performed by Simon Haycock who plays Tom and Ian Brooker who plays Father Robert, the vicar who buried their daughter.
Shooting this scene was quite moving and yet it gave me a sense of hope. Bad things happen to good people, but in time we are able to learn from it and move forward. What was really odd (and this wasn't planned), the day we shot these scenes was the actual 13th anniversary of the day we lost our first baby.
Strangely, I think it was meant to be that way.
Writer & director – Kaleidoscope Man