Violence into Art: Interview with ‘Walking on Eggshells’ film director
3rd May 2023
On Friday 12th May, ‘Walking on Eggshells’ will be screened at Alexander Centre in Faversham. It’s a short documentary film on coercive control, through the experiences of several people explaining what they went through. We had a chat with local film director Miriam Simmons about why they decided to make this film and the difference they hope it will make.
I was in a 14 year Coercive Relationship. Once I managed to leave/escape, I vowed to myself that somehow I would do something to help others learn about this form of abuse. Years later I stumbled upon men and women who too had lived with someone coercive and were happy to share their stories. A friend of mine I worked with was doing a MA in Documentary and Film in Brighton, and so together we hatched the idea. Early into the project my friend found the content triggered past toxic relationship trauma, so she pulled out. I was soon lucky to meet this local videographer, Marc Chazot, who was happy to join the project and help get this documentary made.
What do you think is one of the most misunderstood parts of coercive control?
Personally I feel people misunderstand why one stays in these type of relationships. They often say:
‘you were not locked in’
‘you could have just left’
‘you were not a prisoner’
‘why didnt you just leave?’
This left me with feelings of guilt, ashamed and embarrassed that I had stayed. We have tried to answer this in our documentary.
What do you hope this film will achieve?
We hope to help raise awareness on this subject by making our documentary edgy, arty and raw. It has an innovative style and emotionally draws the viewers in by telling the stories of those involved and their journeys to freedom. We teamed up with 2 specialists in this field to add further validation on coercive control.
What was the process of making it like for you?
We initially filmed interviews of all the participants which took a day and luckily a friend of mine agreed to be the Interviewer. This was a very delicate filming process, keeping people’s identity anonymous and helping make them feel comfortable enough to speak freely to us.
Afterwards we couldn’t view the sensitive content as it was all too emotionally draining. It was full of very personal accounts of living within a coercive relationship and brought back uncomfortable memories….so we waited a few months to mentally digest and process the material and then we were ready to set back to work.
We also had to deal with Lockdown so that made editing interesting. Communication became the key; Marc and I would often video call to check in on each other and the development of the documentary. We had to make compromises at times as it was a collaboration. We feel that together we have produced something that tells a story and definitely helps portray the dark world of Coercive Control.
We have managed to make this all for free by making this ourselves and finding musicians and drone photographers all based in Kent.
What advice would you give to someone who knows and understands that they are experiencing abuse from their partner, but is finding it too difficult to leave?
My advice to someone in this type of relationship would be to confide in a close friend or someone else they trust. You are not going mad, this form of abuse is now known to the police and a crime. Get out as soon as you can. Life will be so much happier once you have left and that there is support available if needed. Its not something you have to be ashamed about.