When Will is released on DVD and Blu-ray, it’s going to be a classic that’s going through its own transformation in terms of the format and the quality of its presentation.
The first featurette that follows the documentary is a one-hour look at Will, a 22-year-old who is a psychology graduate student in the UK.
Will’s life is at stake and he’s been diagnosed with autism, but the truth of his condition is kept from him.
Will is an anomaly and his world is different.
And so he’s going in search of answers.
Will, along with his friends and fellow classmates, set off on a journey of self-discovery to find out what makes them tick.
It’s an intriguing look at a character that we’ve only recently come to know and love.
“We knew we wanted to make a documentary about Will and his journey, but we wanted it to be very intimate,” explains co-director and writer Sam Bialek.
“I don’t want it to feel like you’re watching a documentary and then you’re like, ‘What did I learn about Will?'”
It’s also not a typical psychological docu-series, as Will’s story is told through a series of interviews with his fellow students.
There are many things to discuss in this film, and we wanted Will to be able to bring us all together.
The filmmakers also wanted the documentary to have a natural narrative structure.
The format is a combination of documentary-style footage and a short story that takes Will’s journey from the moment he first wakes up to his eventual diagnosis.
Will and friends, and some of their classmates, are interviewed over the course of the film, which spans a few weeks.
“It’s about finding meaning in a world that doesn’t give you the answers you’re looking for, and it’s also about finding hope,” says Bialecks, who also co-wrote the film with journalist Daniel LeBlanc.
“There’s also a lot of humour in this movie.
And that’s really important.
It really helps to connect the dots.”
Will and the other students are also given the chance to interact with their fellow students in a series known as “The Story”.
They meet with Will and ask him questions about his diagnosis and the challenges of being a student.
There’s also an online community of people who will be sharing their stories with Will.
Bialechks says Will and The Story are part of a larger theme about the film: the importance of empathy.
“A lot of people think of psychology as the study of mental illness, and they think of people being diagnosed with mental illness and then there’s the stigma of that,” he says.
“And so that’s a really important part of it.”
The documentary will explore this concept of empathy in a way that is atypical for a documentary, says Bianek.
It won’t be the first time Will has been interviewed.
In 2014, the film premiered on the History Channel, where it won three awards.
“He’s been very much a part of our lives from the very first day,” says Will’s mother, Debbie, who is also a graduate of the University of Exeter and an actress.
“But when I first saw him on the news, I couldn’t believe how normal he was.
I just couldn’t wrap my head around it.”
In 2015, Will’s father, Stephen, was diagnosed with cancer.
His death left Will and some other students without a father figure.
“That was very hard for us to watch,” says Debbie.
“Even though we didn’t know he was going to die, we just wanted to be there for him.”
The film’s first film-to-TV adaptation will air in 2017.
And while there’s no word yet on a release date for the sequel, Bialesk says he has a number of ideas in mind.
“One of them is to do a second movie, but I don’t know if we’ll do that,” says the filmmaker.
“So it’s possible we could make another one after this one.
It just doesn’t seem like the right time.”
It’s a story that’s been told countless times, but it’s an emotional one, and Bialeker says that’s why it resonates so deeply with the audience.
“The idea that you could be this amazing person in a very small way and then one day you’re going to go from being this amazing character to a terrible person because you were in a different kind of bubble, that’s incredibly powerful,” he explains.
“If you want to understand how it can be that way, you have to get past the boundaries of who you are and what you think.
People have to be in a place where they are able to really understand what the other person’s