the story behind first-time feature filmmakers David Gledhill and Kerry Harrison’s movie We’re Here For a Good Time Not a Long Time is as remarkable as the film itself.
Gledhill, 42, from Sheffield, is a musician best known from Skint & Demoralised, a Yorkshire pop meets poetry duo who once signed to Mercury Records for £200,000. He drew on real life inspiration for the screenplay about a tale of a man recovering from the loss of his soul mate.
The title itself was the “mantra” of Gledhill’s partner Tracey Wilkinson, who was born with cystic fibrosis. When the couple first met, in 1997, Tracey had recently had a double lung transplant.
During the course of their 15-year relationship she was regularly treated at Leeds Adult Cystic Fibrosis Unit for the effects of the condition, which slowly destroys the lungs. Writing a screenplay, which follows the first year of bereavement for a character called “David”, was, Gledhill admits, a way of coping with the tragic inevitability of Tracey’s illness.
“As she was getting toward the end of her life she wanted to talk to me more and more about what she wanted me to do when she died,” he explains.
“She wanted me to go out and to travel. Some of the conversations were funny – some were about getting a dog and a camper van. I was not coping really well with the fact that she was dying. I sat down at a computer and wrote a script about a bloke called David. It’s a piece of fiction. The story is based on conversations that we were having, but it’s more than that.”
In December 2011 Gledhill sent the script to Kerry Harrison, a friend he’d known since their mid-teens; they’d gone on to perform in bands. Harrison was now a professional photographer and maker of commercial videos and Gledhill thought he would make the ideal film director. They arranged to meet at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, near Wakefield.
The pair funded the entire budget of £13,000 themselves. Harrison already had a £2,000 video camera; they allowed themselves a crew of just five. To save money, they relocated the film’s setting from the Scottish Highlands – a favourite place of Tracey’s – to the Lake District and North Yorkshire. Tracey, who’d read the script and “loved it”, suggested alterations to the final scene.
Then, a few months into pre-production, tragedy struck. Tracey’s condition suddenly worsened and on April 17, she died aged 47. In the difficult months that followed, the film project took on added importance.
“Everyone involved in the film had a sense of, ‘We are going to finish this film and we are going to make it great,” says Harrison. “It felt like a dedication to Tracey.”
We’re Here for a Good Time Not a Long Time had a test screening at Hyde Picture House in Leeds earlier this month. They’re now looking for a distributor. It certainly deserves an audience.
Harrison reflects: “I hope we have not made a film that looks like art for art’s sake. We wanted to communicate something – to show that grief and bereavement is hard. The film is really honest about it.”
“In this country people don’t like talking about death or illness or bereavement but I’d like people to talk about it,” says Gledhill.
“Most people have lost somebody. We tried to make a film that somebody would be able to relate to on many levels.”