children, children's film, filmmaking, Screenings, short film

Children’s film project in Doncaster

7th May 2016

By Debbie Howard

I’ve recently been working with Hilltop School in Edlington, Doncaster for the past few weeks on a film project with Y3 and Y5 primary school children. This has been fantastic fun.

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I have taught the children all about the filmmaking process from start to finish, and even though they are so young, they have done incredibly well to grasp this information and take it all on board. We watched many short films, looked at different genre’s, shooting styles, types of shot, casting, sound and music.


Children then worked together in small group’s to come up with their own original film idea. Some chose animation, others documentary, comedy and drama. They developed these over a number of weeks, created storyboards, tag lines, synopsis and posters and scripts.

We then ran a pitching session where each group had to pitch their films to me and the class teachers, Nichola Clark and James Hissey. They did incredibly well and it was difficult to select the seven films we chose.

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In the end we selected two documentaries, one animation and four dramas. We have just shot our first documentary, ‘A Day in the Life of Hilltop’ which went brilliantly. The animation ‘Dogship’ was shot with guidance and expertise of animator James Reynolds and went really well. Over the next few weeks we will shoot the other five films. I will also edit a ‘making of’ documentary, about the entire project.


The children have loved the project and worked so hard and really well on this. I think there are definitely a few budding filmmakers within their midst.

When all the films are edited, which I will work on throughout June and July, with help from James Reynolds and James Hissey, we will be having our own ‘film festival’ where the children will bring their families and friends to the screenings. There will be awards for ‘best of’ in many categories, and some very worthy winners!

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It’s been so much fun to see children as young as this embracing filmmaking and coming up with such creative and imaginative ideas. Especially the children that don’t usually do so well academically, many of them have really found their moment to shine on this project.

Well done to everyone at Hilltop school for making this project happen. With thanks to Grimm & Co and Cape UK for funding and overseeing the project.








Coronation Street, Creative Skillset, Directors UK, Female Directors, ITV, Mulit camera Directing, Multi cam directing, Television, TV Directing

Multi camera Directing

11th April 2016

I recently got a call from Directors UK, telling me I had been selected to take part in a week long course training in multi camera Directing at ITV, at Media City in Manchester. The course was funded by Creative Skillset. I readily accepted the place and was intrigued and excited to get started. I had previously only ever Directed single camera so I was keen to get stuck in and learn a new skill. Here’s how it went…

Day 1.

The course leaders were Kay Patrick and Ian Bevitt, 2 long standing Directors on Coronation Street, as well as many other programs. We were being trained to work on Coronation Street, using their house style, which I soon realised meant much more than using 2 cameras at a time! We were introduced to our 1st AD for the week, Woody Wade, and all the Heads of Department and Producer of Coronation Street, a really lovely, friendly bunch of people. They each explained their own roles and how things work on the show. We looked around the studios and galleries to see other Directors at work and get an understanding of the work flow and speed with which it is all put together. At the end of the day we were given our first script of the week, which we had to go back to our hotels and study ready to hand in our plans for the first shoot.

Day 2.

By now I understood it’s all about the planning. Using a plan of the set, you plot your 3 camera positions and where you want your actors to be. Shooting 3 cameras means you have to be super careful about not crossing the line when there is a lot of movement within a scene. You also have a very short time to film. What I didn’t realise was that you also have to have plan the edit, before you shoot. So you mark your scripts up with each cut, when you want to cut from say a close up on camera 1, to a 2 shot on camera 3 etc. So it’s quite mind boggling to get your head around, but it was starting to make sense. We handed our plans in for the first scene and then were given scenes 2 and 3, which were much more complicated and we had the weekend to prepare these.

Day 3.

It was pretty nerve wrecking for the first time walking out onto the studio floor. We were filming on the Bistro set. There was a much bigger crew than any I had worked with before and I walked out and introduced myself to them and then met the actors. From that moment I had an hour to complete. We had been trained extremely well by Kay and Ian and their words were resounding in my head. “You have to appear confident and in control. If you’re not, you have to pretend to be”. We were advised to have no more than 20 minutes on the studio floor. We did a couple of line runs and blocked the scene. It was a nice simple one on the first day. Then I checked things through with camera, then you go into the gallery, a studio, from where you direct the scene. You sit in front of 4 screens, these relate to camera 1, 2 and 3. The 4th one is the mix. On my left was Linda, the vision mixer, who is following the marked up script, cutting from one shot to the next as they are acting out the scene. On my right was Eileen, the Script Supervisor. Both of these women were incredible and fantastic at their jobs, working at lightning speed. Over a mic you communicate with the crew and rehearse until you are happy with everything. You then go for your first take. Time is of the essence on Coronation Street, so as soon as you are happy you complete that pass. If you need to pick up any shots you do this quickly. I felt very time pressured . If we hadn’t finished on the hour, we would have to stop. As it happened I completed it in 40 minutes and was very happy. That afternoon I had one hour to edit. Because Linda had vision mixed so well, according to my plans, it meant that it was pretty much edited as soon as it was shot so we just had to tweak a little bit, making minor adjustments to pace etc.

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Day 4.

I was second up again this morning. This scene was way more complicated and I had put in a lot of movement, unlike the first scene. It was in the Rovers. We started blocking, but I got a bit confused because the choreography of the scene was quite complicated and I did start to panic inside. Woody our 1st AD was on hand to support me, and she was an absolute rock, keeping me on track. The team do work incredibly well together on the Street. We had to make some adjustments to my camera plans and then it was into the gallery to shoot the scene. This one was complicated and difficult and I did find it a real challenge but with great back up from Linda and Eileen, I finished on time. The edit was straight forward.

Day 5.

I was first up today. This was the most complicated scene as it was longer and there was a fight, with 4 actors, and 4 extras. We had an hour and 15 minutes. I felt really in control today. Everything was making sense, it all flowed really well and I hit my stride nicely. We finished just on time and I was really happy with how the scene had gone. Again the edit was swift and I was pleased with the outcome. I observed for the rest of the day and was relieved my three scenes were in the can.

Day 6.

This morning we watched some very experienced Directors shooting their scenes and was relieved to see how relaxed they were and how much fun they all had. It hadn’t been relaxing for us! It felt a bit like having your first few driving lessons when everything is unfamiliar, then after a while you can drive without thinking anymore. In the afternoon, we all had watch everyone’s three scenes back to back and critique them. It was fascinating to see seven very different versions of the same scene as we all put our own unique marks on them. We were all given fantastic feedback. We were told that every single scene was broadcast quality, good enough for the show. They course leaders were really happy with them all. We each had to then pick our favourite scene to show to the bosses for their feedback. Funnily enough, the scene I selected was the second one, that had been the most difficult shoot and the one I thought was going to be a disaster. But it worked really well in the end and had a good energy and pace. We then showed our selected scenes to the bosses and the feedback was great. Again we were told that all of them were excellent and good enough to be broadcast. The wine flowed for a bit after that.

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I’m really grateful for the opportunity I had to learn multicamera. As an independent filmmaker, I’m not sure how much I’ll use this, but it’s good to know how to do it, and maybe I’ll do some television Directing at some point where I can put it into practice. If nothing else it’s increased my confidence and shooting single camera will seem quite easy after this!

Kay, Ian, Woody and the whole team at ITV were incredibly supportive and accommodating. Big thanks to Directors UK and Creative Skillset for enabling this. It was a total baptism of fire, but incredibly well worth it!

Press, Still Loved

Still Loved publicity….Motherhood the Real Deal

9th December 2015

Talya Stone from the blog Motherhood the Real Deal has written this article about our documentary, Still Loved, interviewing 4 of our mum’s, Mel Scott, Louisa Evans, Michelle Hemmington and Julie Cooke about dealing with the loss of their babies and what it was like for them taking part in our film. They also asked us about making the film and how it all came about.

You can read the blog here.

Thanks to Talya for putting this together for us and helping spread the word about Still Loved.


Documentary, Festivals, funding, Still Loved

Docs for Sale at IDFA

23rd November 2015

This week our Sales Agent and Distributor CatnDocs will be promoting Still Loved at IDFA (International Documentary Festival of Amsterdam) at Docs For Sale.  We’ve heard whisperings already of news of a broadcaster overseas wanting to buy the film, more news on confirmation. It will be great to see how CatnDocs have got on after the festival is over. Find out more here

In other news we’ve just completed an applicaiton to The Wellcome Trust for our outreach campaign on Still Loved, so fingers crossed for that! It will help us to get Still Loved out to audiences far and wide.

We’ve also had a new poster designed which we’ll be able to share with you very soon.

Debbie has also been mentoring with the BFI Film Academy Sheffield this weekend, the students did incredibly well, especially working outside in sub zero temperatures. Looking forward to getting the film finished next week.


Documentary, Screenings, Still Loved

Still Loved preview at The Void

11th November 2015
This week we had our third private preview screening of Still Loved at The Void Cinema, part of Hallam University in Sheffield. This was an opportunity for friends, family and sponsors who had missed the last screening to catch the film.
We did a short Q&A after the film with Director Debbie Howard, Producer Colin Pons and one of the mum’s from the film Julie Cooke.
Once again the film was incredibly well received by the audience and we got some fantastic feedback. Here are a few of the quotes from our audience:

“A brave, heartfelt and beautiful film with an honesty and integrity like nothing I’ve seen before.”
Leon Lockley, filmmaker

“So raw, true & honest.”
Alice Watts

“A beautiful, touching and poignant film.”
Julie Higginson

Thanks to everyone that came along and suppored us. And a special thank you to Dave Chapman for your incredibly support recently in these later stages of the film.
In other news, we’ve finished the picture edit on the 52′ broadcast version of Still Loved now, and just have the sound mix to complete. We’re also a few days away from a new 2 minute trailer and a new poster. All will be revealed soon!
Documentary, Screenings, Still Loved

Still Loved London preview

27th October 2015

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On Wednesday 21st October we had our London preview screening of Still Loved at Molinare, Soho, where we did our post production. They have a gorgeous cinema where we held the screening.

Our audience arrived at 6.30pm and we had a couple of drinks in the bar. Our guests consisted of two of the families in the film, Beth and Steve Morris and Michelle and Paul Hemmington Buckley, some of our crew, sponsors and film industry and friends. It was a fantastic turn out.

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Documentary, Screenings, Still Loved

Still Loved previews to rave reviews

21st October 2015

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On Tuesday 6th October, we had our first preview screening of Still Loved in Sheffield at the Showroom Cinema with cast, crew, friends, family, sponsors and film industry. We had an amazing turn out.

“Debbie Howard’s documentary Still Loved really moved me. It was as much about human connection as it was about loss. It deserves a much wider screening. A brave and tender film.”

The audience arrived and had drinks and there was a chance for the families in the film to catch up with each other, and to meet and greet.

Kate Linderholm from BBC Radio Sheffield introduced the Filmmakers on stage and our Director, Debbie Howard gave an introductory speech and thanked our wonderful families, crew and sponsors for all their input.

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Documentary, Post Production

Still Loved picture lock

4th October 2015

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We’re absolutely delighted to have picture locked on Still Loved. This is a massive landmark moment for us and it’s fantastic to have reached this point.

We now have a three more weeks until our on line begins, to give our composer, Jack Ketch, time to complete the score. We’ll then be moving into Molinare to complete our sound mix and grade.

Enormous thanks to our Editor, Joby Gee for all the many months of hard work and dedication getting Still Loved into shape, the team at Molinare for all the technical support and to Blue Spill for their VFX. We had a couple of glasses of champagne yesterday while making the finishing touches.

We feel we have a really beautiful film. The participants in the film have watched a preview and are all very happy with their stories and that the film has been sensitively put together.  We look forward to sharing it with the world very soon.

Huge thanks to everyone that has supported us. To keep up to date with us day to day, join us on Facebook here.

Documentary, Post Production, Still Loved

Still loved is finished!

25th July 2015

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These are amazing words to write! Finally, we have completed the film. After three long years and a great deal of hard work, it is done. That’s a fantastic feeling.

This week we finished the on line with Des Murray and the Sound Mix with Nas Pardesh and George Foulgham at Molinare. Colin Pons, our Producer joined me yesterday to watch and sign off the film and we’re absolutely delighted with the final outcome.

The lovely Molinare team came in with lots of fizz and cake for a celebration at the end. The sound team were joined by Tom Rogers, Sales Exec and Sarah Kinsella our Post Production Supervisor. Molinare have been wonderful to work with, what a lovely bunch of people and a great place to work. They have made a superb job of the post production on Still Loved.

So we still have many months of hard work ahead now the film is finished. Marketing, distribution and outreach. We also have to make a shorter TV version and a trailer. We need to do submissions to film festivals, poster, DVD extras etc. So our work is not yet over. But it’s a huge landmark to have got this far and completed the actual film.

Enormous thanks to every single person that has worked on the film or supported us in any way, that’s a very long list as we’ve had so much help from many fantastic people.

I look forward to announcing our premiere soon!


Documentary, Festivals, Film Festivals

Edinburgh Film Festival 2015

24th June 2015

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