It is a humid day in Melbourne, Australia and the lighting is just right for movie making. The crew are setting up in an expansive home surrounded by thick bushland and wildflowers.
Claire, a music therapist with tortoiseshell glasses and well-tamed hair, is perched by a kitchen table made from recycled timber and steel. She stands, arms outstretched as her old client , Leah, enters the room.
Leah is going at a mile a minute. Big hair. Beautiful smile and ready to talk. She embraces Claire warmly before relaxing into a cushy arm chair.
Quietly a crew member lowers the blinds to create a more intimate, homely setting. As Leah smiles at Claire, she leans forward to catch the eye of the man in front of her.
Almost in a hush, she asks, “Are the cameras rolling?”
Leah is being filmed for an impact documentary titled Live the life you please, a hopeful collection of stories striving to change the way Australians think about the last chapter of life.
Leah is barely in her mid-thirties but she’s already lived through a lot. The oldest of four kids, Leah was still a young child herself when she had to grow up “pretty quickly” after her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer at the tender age of twenty five.
When the cancer became terminal, Leah’s mum opted for palliative care to minimise her pain and preserve her quality of life.
“Palliative care. It’s a scary word for some”, Leah muses to the cameras. “But it was a beautiful experience for my family, it wasn’t all about medicine.”
While she was unwell, Leah’s mum worked with a music therapist to manage her symptoms. Her name was Claire. The same music therapist who greeted Leah before her interview.
Leah believes the music therapy dramatically improved her mum’s wellbeing during her final months.
“She had such a strong connection with Claire, and with the music.”
Death and dying is often considered a topic too emotional to think about. Many don’t know where to start or how to get help. Many more don’t understand the choices that are available to them.
It’s something impact film production house, Moonshine Agency, has been contemplating for more than a decade. Their first film project Life Before Death explored how to care for those beyond cure.
This was soon followed by Little Stars, which tells the surprisingly life-affirming stories of young people living with life-limiting illnesses, and Hippocratic, a first person account of Dr Mr Rajagopal’s – “the father of palliative care” – quest for a pain-free India.
With Live the life you please , the filmmakers are turning their lens to palliative care within an Australian setting.
Australia is recognised for having one of the best healthcare systems in the world. The country’s start of life care is arguably second to none.
Expecting mothers are well supported throughout their entire pregnancy. They have access to exceptional care during the birthing process and their entire young family has access to ongoing support for years after the baby is born.
But end of life care can look very different.
This is what Live the life you please is seeking to change. The campaign aims to improve awareness about palliative care, and advocate for increased access to essential palliative care and related health care services for all Australians,
Comprising a feature-length documentary, a diverse series of short films and an action-focused website, the filmmakers are relying on storytelling to change the narrative and bring “death talk” into focus.
The result is a unique and important discussion around how we approach death. How we support our loved ones during their final chapter. How we cultivate hope during these challenging times and how to engage in meaningful conversations that lead to positive change.
The Live the life you please campaign launched in September 2022.
The feature documentary will release in May 2023.
To watch the first of the short films and find out how you can get involved please visit www.LiveTheLifeYouPlease.com