Dark Comedy

Tom Edmunds is a British writer-director who began his career with a series of shorts, including Is This A Joke? (2012) with Russell Tovey. He now makes his feature debut with the black comedy Dead In A Week (Or Your Money Back), which stars Aneurin Barnard as the suicidal William, who hires an assassin, played by Tom Wilkinson, to finish him off.

ASFF: What inspired you to make Dead In A Week?
I like a certain type of film that I enjoy going to watch at the cinema, and I don’t think we make enough of those films. I think we make some but I don’t think we make enough. I think they’re seen as being a bit risky. Dead In A Week is definitely a dark comedy. I know – because of how we developed the script – that this is quite a difficult tone to get right and I think it’s a tone that people are nervous of. When it does work, it really works super well.

ASFF: What was the starting idea?
We came at it from two different angles. There was the idea of someone who desperately wanted to kill themselves but couldn’t. But also the idea of an assassin who only killed people who wanted to die. There was quite a lot about Dignitas in the newspaper at the time…it’s obviously a serious subject. But I thought there was a way looking at that, life and death and quite big themes in a comedic way. That’s what we’ve tried to do with Dead In A Week.

ASFF: What led you to casting Aneurin Barnard as William?
TE: Aneurin was a lovely not-quite-accident. My producer Daniel [Konrad-Cooper] was the production supervisor on Dunkirk. I got a call from him saying, “I’m working with this guy at the moment here on Dunkirk. I know he’s got a decent part. I think he’d be a terrific fit for us.” Physically, he was excatly what I hoped that character would be – the image of William, Aneurin fits extremely well. The poetic, slightly Byronic [figure]. 

ASFF: Gettting Tom Wilkinson as the hitman Leslie is a coup for a first-time director. How long did he take to commit?
TE: Tom was amazing, Tom took two weeks. He had a suggestion about a couple of things in the script that I will totally admit, I was resistant to. But out of respect for him, I looked at it again and he has proved to be a hundred percent correct. His radar is absolutely spot-on. He’s a fantastic actor.

ASFF: Talk about Tom’s character, Leslie. He’s a very odd assassin!
TE: He’s not a vicious man. This Guild of Assassins that he belongs to…it’s all about “We’re not murderers, we’re professionals.” And they have this process of contracts and they have to fulfill those and you have to sign paperwork. It’s all quite mundane and overly regulated. It’s the juxtaposition between the extraordinary and the mundane where we derive a lot of our humour from.

Dead In A Week (Or Your Money Back) is in cinemas now. For more details, click here. 

1. Stills from Dead In A Week (Or Your Money Back).