Sadie’s Last Days On Earth, is a smart and quirky film filled with heart and humour, and explores the very real world of modern-day anxiety.
Anxiety is one of the most common mental health disorders we face today, and affects 1 in 13 people globally.
In Sadie’s Last Days On Earth, main character Sadie Mitchell suffers from severe anxiety. It causes her to think that the world is ending. Micheal Seater (writer and director) was struck by the idea of writing this coming-of-age story when he realized how the issue of anxiety was being raised more often.
“I had spent a little bit of time thinking about modern-day anxiety and talking with older generations, and I thought it would be a really interesting way to do a classic coming-of-age high school film, but about anxiety today. I just didn’t know how to tackle it,” Micheal said. “Then, I was hanging out with Paula Brancati, who I produced the film with, and Lauren Collins, who was on Degrassi, when Lauren said, ‘what about a teenage girl that is afraid of the apocalypse.’ In that moment, it all just clicked for me. It made sense to me because everything in high school feels like the end of the world. The actual world ending is the heightened anxiety.”
It was important to Michael that his characters showed their anxieties and fears as realistically as possible, so during the writing process, researchers were assembled to help create different levels of anxiety and insecurities that the characters in the movie would portray. “We had a really smart team across the board making sure that we brought the script to life with care. I would say this is a realistic portrayal of what any teenager in high school may be going through. In Sadie’s case, it is heightened and it’s quite crippling,” said Paula, who also plays Sadie’s teacher Connie. “It’s meant to be an honest depiction of her trying to figure it out, her wanting to feel free and not bound by the limitations of her anxiety.”
For Micheal, he met with friends who deal with their own anxiety and asked for their advice on making Sadie’s, and the rest of the characters’ feelings, seem genuine. “I would send them specific scenes and descriptions of feelings. I went to people who had real experience and asked if it made sense. Sometimes they would help me make it more real and other times they would say that it was exactly how it feels. That feeling of your heart getting all tense, your stomach getting in knots, and not being able to function so well, which was a huge help in giving the character a reality,” said Michael.
Morgan Campbell, who plays Sadie in the movie, did her own personal research and used her experience with anxiety to bring the character to life. “I’m big on research, and anxiety is something that I deal with myself. I feel that especially in the age, the modern world we live in, it effects what seems to be most people,” said Morgan. “It is really important for me to tell the truth and to tell this story accurately, especially because it is geared towards a younger audience. I think it is important to bring attention to this circumstance for younger people who are probably experiencing a lot of the same feelings Sadie goes through.”
Though Sadie may be the lead character, she isn’t the only one dealing with these feelings. Characters like Jack and Brennan, played by Munro Chambers and Clark Bako, show a less severe form of anxiety, but it still takes control of their everyday lives. Micheal said, “I wanted these other tidbits throughout the film where it was like, well I experience that everyday. That’s my anxiety, which is Bren’s need to fit in and be accepted or Jack and the crushing pressure from home that we don’t explore much, but you get a sense in the background that it’s a big part of his life, and Connie’s relationship is falling a part. So it’s trying to give all those little pieces that an audience can relate to.”
Coming-of-age stories alone teach many life lessons. When the theme of mental health is added to the plot, it explores a more serious topic that people of any age can relate to. When the movie is over and everyone gets up to leave, Michael, Paula, and Morgan all hope the audience will take away something to help make a positive change in their lives. Paula said, “For me when I read it, and still when I watch it, it’s how important those core friendships are when you are a young woman in high school. For Sadie, her love for her best friend comes before the boy and I think that is a refreshing take on the high school coming-of-age story. I hope it makes people reminisce, feel nostalgic, and maybe even check off some things on their own bucket list.”
“The most important thing I took away was to trust in yourself and learning to be honest,” says Morgan, and adds, “I don’t think that is an easy thing and it wasn’t for me growing up. Instead of trying to impress everybody else and make sure everybody else is happy, there needs to be a balance and it’s really important to go inward to talk to yourself about what it is that you need to feel safe and happy.”
As the writer, Michael is closest to this movie and all that it could mean to its viewers, and says, “I would like the audience to take away from this film, more than anything, a sense of belonging in their own world. I would like them be able to look out in their own life and feel like they belong. That they have a place in their own world.”
Photo credit: Jag Gundu