Monday 26 August 2019

What Death Leaves Behind – An interview with producer Rachel K.Ofori

Rachel K.Ofori, co-writer and producer of What Death Leaves Behind, explains how an organic donation inspired a dark, compelling movie.

When did you start writing, Rachel?

In 8th grade my English teacher told me my poetry and short stories could get published. It surprised me because I never thought what I wrote was poetry--just thoughts. Had my first poem published and wrote a stage play later that same year. Just kept it up from there. It’s amazing what one word of validation can do for a person. The opportunity to pass that on is something I aggressively pursue. 

And how did this particular screenplay come to be?

Our Executive Producer, Chad Morton’s cousin went through 7 years of dialysis and started having repetitive nightmares after finally receiving a kidney transplant. How he originally explained those dreams to Chad gave us the basis for the story and even the details to help guide the makeup by Joan Jones, wardrobe by Diamond Holland, and the eerie production design of Khadir Cade. Chad and Nico Giampietro wrote the original draft, Scott Hamilton (the director) and I took it to the final script you see in the film. Was a very organic and collaborative experience.

There’s some confronting subjects in here. How important to you was it that they be handled delicately and tasteful?

Very. For one, it’s medical. We had several medical consultants and I even casted actual nurses in the film to keep us true to that world--even cell memory and how much of us exist at the cell level. Then it goes deeper. We deal with mental illness and domestic violence as vehicles for the psychological thriller aspects of the story. We take the audience on a twisty, entertaining ride. But these subject matters are real and affect people every day. Audiences erupt in applause, some cry, but when a woman tells me she saw herself in Erin O’brien’s vulnerable character at the Pan African Film Festival or a man at Downtown LA Film Festival tells me Jake’s darkness helped him better understand his brother during a dark time-- I believe we got it right.

Though an entertaining genre film, this is also somewhat of a message movie. How do you hope the movie changes people – in what way?

If nothing else, we hope this helps us all to remember to pay attention to how those close to us are handling tough times. And when in a tough time to talk and open up to those that care about you--even when it’s something as crazy as our film.

How important to you that audiences get to discover the film on the big screen?

I would say priceless--but the distributors will say otherwise! In a time where studios bank on superheroes to bring people to the theater, it’s great to remember our world is full of amazing stories about regular people--like Jake.  We’re so grateful for distributors like Artist Rights Distribution that find ways to give a platform and a voice to indie filmmakers. We make films with the big screen in mind. It’s great we have so many mediums to consume content now--but ultimately when an audience sees a film in the theater you’re getting the art as the artist intended.

We list every chance to see WDLB on the big screen at and on our social media @whatdeathleavesbehind

To see if the film is screening near you, visit