For British filmmaker Carol Morley, whose preceding endeavour – the profound biographical documentary Dreams of a Life – deservedly garnered a vast amount of critical acclaim, casting the characters she had created is everything – and in her latest offering The Falling, it’s something she feels proud to have got completely spot on.

“I hate attitude, when people come with attitude I wanna get rid of it, I think in a film what you need is have a real connection and the actors are the frontline, so if you don’t cast it right, you’re nowhere, it doesn’t matter what you do, it’s irrelevant,” she said.

Morley is a distinctively likeable figure, her films may tackle sincere, poignant issues, but her affable demeanour is that of someone who enjoys what she’s doing, taking great pleasure in crafting stories and the characters that inhabit her world – and in the case of The Falling, to have assembled a cast consisting of Game of Thrones’ star Maisie Williams and Maxine Peake, has made all the difference.

“When I wrote the part of Lydia, it was like these people already existed and I had pictures cut out from magazines and newspapers of how I imagined them to be,” she said. “So for me filling Lydia’s shoes was a really big thing, and we spent a lot of time looking for that person. But Maisie is incredibly talented, and she has an innate ability to bring a character to life. It’s a difficult character because she’s flawed and not entirely likeable and that’s hard to do. But she has a lot of power, but she’s not arrogant, a natural.”

“And Maxine is amazing at bringing a character to life, but also to work with it’s a joy. It feels like you’re building something together, it’s not something she closes you out of, you’re involved in that process with her. She’s just an incredibly inspiring person, very supportive. That’s why she’s my muse.”

Having established actors of that ilk is one thing, but for the part of Abbie, Morley cast an up and coming talent with little experience to her name, and the director is thrilled she’s in a position to offer such wonderful opportunities to young performers.

“Florence came in and I got her to take all of her make-up off and myself and the casting people were blown away, straight away. You have to have that, when somebody walks through the door you feel it, and think ‘that is my character’. It’s like they belong to you, which is a weird thing to say, but you become quite possessive over them. Plus, without that part being written, where would Florence be? Because you do need that opportunity and this is why we need more parts for young women that isn’t just about being the girlfriend, the victim.”

The Falling – which depicts mass hysteria amongst a group of schoolchildren in the 1960s, is Morley’s second consecutive, female-centric production, and while not a conscious decision, it’s one that fills the filmmaker with a sense of pride, nonetheless.

“I’m naturally drawn to making female centric films, but then you become aware of the fact that, by default of doing that, you are then entering in to a territory that you have to talk about because there is such under representation. But it’s not why I do it, but I’m glad I do it. It’s not like I think ‘there’s a void here and I should fill it’ but there is a void there and I’m happy to be there.”

falling-maisie-williamsThe idea first came to Morley when on the phone to a friend, and she explains that despite the themes being somewhat mysterious to her at first, that was all part of the appeal.

“I was on the phone to a friend and we started laughing, then she mentioned this village in medieval times that couldn’t stop laughing and I started to Google it, and I came across a school in Tanzania in Africa in the 60s that had a contagion of laughing and fainting that broke out, so it began there, and that’s where I discovered the term mass hysteria and started researching it,” she continued. “I made a short film and thought, one day I want to make a long film about this set in a school. It intrigued me, especially the mystery of them, because we don’t really understand why they occur, and why they’re collective experiences.”

In spite of that, Morley still puts a lot of herself into the roles she creates, and has an affinity with them that she believes comes with the territory.

“You’re creating characters that you grow to love and they’re flawed but you still love them,” she admitted. “You bring everything to them from yourself and from other people that you know. So at the end even if you think you’ve done something non-autobiographical, you realise there’s a lot of resonance in it. You have to bring yourself to it.”

“It’s like with Dreams of a Life too, I made that film because it felt important to my life to tell this story, so if something doesn’t feel connected to you, I’d find it difficult to do. It’s about having an affinity with what you’re doing, you’ve got to connect to it. For me, anyway. Perhaps only the bigger, high-concept films may not do that, but even they’re probably bringing a lot of themselves to it, in different ways.”

There is a certain resonance that derives from Morley’s own childhood, as the themes of grief in The Falling are inspired by her own, tragic experiences.

“My dad died when I was 11 and when you’re a child losing somebody, you’re not prepared, it’s a strange age. So often when reading books and watching films, it’s frustrating to see grief, especially young people reacting in a way that doesn’t feel quite right. There are nuances to it. So I’m not surprised we don’t look at grief that much because in Western culture we tend to avoid thoughts of death, but it is rich territory and important too.”

With Morley it’s safe to say that there’s an intrigue into what comes next, though she has kept us guessing as to exactly what the project may be.

“The next one is an adaptation of a novel by a big English writer.” Sounds good. Whatever it is.

The Falling is released on April 24th.