A FILM director has defended his use of a controversial prop which mimicked someone hanged from a tree.

Joe Duncombe, who lives in Rochford, was in the final stages of shooting for his film We Wait in the Woods - a feature-length horror movie about friends mourning the loss of someone who had taken their own life.

As part of filming, the crew had used a prop pair of legs made of duct tape which were hanging from a tree in his parents’ back garden - something which angered many members of the community after they were left up over the weekend.

The 35-year-old, who has written, directed and produced the film, said: “A couple of years ago, I lost a friend to suicide and the way I deal with my grief is I write about it and make films so it made sense I wrote about how it affected me and my friends.

“It sort of developed into a film that raises awareness of suicide and being vigilant about when people are reaching out.”

The crew have now finished filming and Joe has entered the post-production phase with the aim of getting it ready for this year’s Horror on Sea film festival.

The plot follows a group of friends who plan a two-day wake in the woods after their friend took his own life but not everything goes to plan as the woods are haunted by ghosts.

But the prop legs which were used caused a furore on social media with residents claiming it is “insensitive” while others claiming the sight of it could have traumatised children.

One woman said: “As a mother and a secondary school teacher who has listened to many a young person discuss potentially wanting to commit suicide, this is not something I would want either to come across in the woods.

“It is basically something someone would have nightmares over.

“Yes there should be suicide awareness, but that is not the way at all.”

But Joe has defended the use of the prop, which was hung up in his parents’ back garden.

He added: “Firstly, if we upset or offended anyone, we apologise for that. The legs staying hanging up was an oversight at the end of a 20-hour shoot at about 5am.

“I wanted to create awareness and a bit of debate with the project but I was surprised this happened before we had even finished filming.

“The fact people are speaking about mental health and suicide awareness is a good thing.

“The legs were in my parents’ back garden which is a fenced-off area and private land and being upset is part of the nature of this subject matter. I would like to encourage anyone to seek support and help when they are feeling low. It doesn’t have to be to anyone specific as long as they reach out.

“Similarly, I would encourage people to be vigilant in case someone they know is reaching out.”

To find out more information about the film, visit www.facebook.com/wewaitinthewoodsfilm