Waves is the epic emotional journey of a suburban African-American family navigating love and forgiveness in the wake of a tragic loss. Georgia Humphreys chats to writer-director Trey Edward Shults, plus some of his talented cast, to find out more.

Trey Edward Shults confides he was a "bit depressed" when he began penning the first draft of Waves.

"I felt a bit misunderstood and had things going on with my life, and I just wanted to put, as crazy as it sounds, everything where I'm at as a human being into something," elaborates the 31-year-old American, best known as the director and writer of the drama Krisha, and the psychological horror It Comes At Night.

"Putting it all out there, there's no way I could be misunderstood, I guess."

The result of this cathartic process is a semi-autobiographical story of one family pushed to the brink of destruction.

Through love, connection, communication, and atonement, they find rebirth and renewal.

It's an African-American family at the centre of the emotive drama, which Texas-born Shults explains came about because of star Kelvin Harrison Jr.

After working together on 2017's It Comes At Night, the pair had grown closer and closer, and were desperate to do another project together.

So, when the filmmaker told the Louisiana-born actor about Waves, and the broad strokes of the story, the 25-year-old said he wanted to play the part of Tyler - a budding high-school wrestling star with a bright future ahead of him.

The duo ended up collaborating on the script together for months, talking a lot about their own lives as 17-year-olds.

"It was really about finding the commonality in our experiences," reflects Shults.

"That's why it starts at such a personal, autobiographical level, but then, at the end of the day, I'm a white dude and this is a black family, and that's purely because of Kelvin, and we wanted to do this thing together.

"But we felt if we were going to do that, collaboration was everything, because it had to feel real and it had to feel nuanced."

"Trey asked me a lot of questions on the romantic relationships, my relationship with my father, with my sister, and we got to talk a lot about race and coming from the South..." echoes Harrison Jr.

"I had some insights as to what Louisiana was like, and just what the black experience was like."

Waves is Shults's third feature, and he has assembled a stellar cast; as well as Harrison Jr, there's Sterling K Brown, Taylor Russell, Lucas Hedges, Alexa Demie, and Renee Elise Goldsberry.

Set against the vibrant landscape of south Florida, it has a unique structure, as it traces the two different trajectories of Tyler and his sister Emily, as they search for meaning and identity in the wake of trauma.

"I thought it was so fascinating, just the way that the story is split; you don't really see that in cinema," notes Vancouver-born Russell, 25, who takes on the role of Emily.

"Very few films do it in this way, and it all has a purpose. So I was really enticed and excited by that challenge.

"It's a big thing to switch the movie over like that, it needs to be done in such a fine-tuned way. So, I loved that."

Interestingly, Shults not only uses the camera to suddenly completely change the perspective of the story, but also to create a sense of motion as certain moments play out on screen.

"The movie is designed as an immersive, subjective experience, living through these character's eyes... especially the brother and the sister," suggests the director.

"I just wanted to be honest with them. And to me, sometimes when you're that age, driving with the person you love, that can be the most freeing, beautiful thing in the world.

"To me, the closest way to get a camera to feel that way is to spin it in 360s with them."

We see how Brown's character - stern and uncompromising patriarch Ronald - is pushing son Tyler to excel in wrestling, pressing him to lift weights for long hours in the family's sprawling suburban home.

In one particularly powerful scene, he says the line, 'We are not afforded the luxury of being average'.

This stands out as a meaningful conversation and was something that resonated with 43-year-old Brown, star of US TV drama This Is Us.

"It is a way with which I was raised, it is something that I believe to be true presently - that there's not as much latitude for failure. Or that your failures have different consequences than your counterparts' failures do."

The Missouri-born actor adds he thinks one of the 'failings' of the character in the first half of the film is that "he doesn't really allow space for his son to speak back to him".

"There's not a dialogue that transpires between these two people, it's like, 'This is how you're going to do things in my house'.

"And I recognise the need to have rules for parents to have their children abide by, but it's nice when the children feel as if they have a say in the rules that are being created for their benefit.

"So, it doesn't dismiss the truthfulness of the statement, but I just think there needs to be the space for him to respond as if his opinion is as valuable as anybody else in the house."

The part of Tyler and Emily's mother, Catherine, is portrayed by Goldsberry, 49, probably best known for her role in musical phenomenon Hamilton on Broadway.

Addressing the exploration of parental love in Waves, the California-born star says: "What we learn in this movie, and what we see in terms of what every family needs to be - especially African-American families - is, yes, that pressure needs to be there, but what's so important to go with that message is, 'We will be here for you, no matter what happens'.

"What parents do in general is we balance each other out. So Ronald tends to really hit hard with one message with this child, and seems a little softer with this child, and I think Catherine tends to be softer with this child, and harder with this child.

"All of those complicated dynamics are really reflective of what we do in families."

Waves is in cinemas now.