On the 30th May, Women in Film and TV UK featured an interview with Director, Debbie Howard about the making of her feature documentary, Still Loved.
We all know that getting a film made is not easy. But once you’ve achieved that part, what about the Herculean effort needed to get it out into the world?
Over the last few years WFTV has been keeping a keen eye on the progress of Still Loved, the debut feature-length documentary from former WFTV mentee Debbie Howard (above centre). The film explores the complex reality for families surviving baby loss. It’s a brave and moving documentary but – because of its challenging subject matter – it’s not an easy sell.
Undeterred, Debbie has used a number of different strategies to build an audience for the film and make sure its important message does not go unheard. So WFTV decided to catch up with her shortly after Still Loved‘s DVD release to find out how she’s done it and what tips she would pass on to fellow-filmmakers trying to get their film seen.
“From the very beginning I was told repeatedly not to make this film. People said ‘There is no audience. People won’t watch it. It’s too sad.’”
You can read the full article on the WFTV UK website here.
Vulture Hound have reviewed Still Loved in their magazine and given it a 5/5 – ‘Vital Viewing’ You can read it below:
The subject of death is one which Western society still struggles with discussing frankly. This is partly due to its depressing nature but also because for most death of a loved one is too raw an experience to share openly. This is especially true with the death of the young and even more so with stillbirth. Debbie Howard’s new documentary Still Loved is a moving piece that explores this and broaches stillbirth with great sensitivity. Its focus is on a number of couples who have faced the trauma of having a stillborn child or children.
This is Howard’s first full length documentary, following the success of a few short films including Peekaboo (2012) and Pussy (2009). Howard’s film reflects her talent as a storyteller but also as a film maker. It is an extremely poignant piece which encapsulates the difficult emotional and physical journey couples face who’ve experienced stillbirth. As someone whose sister Jennifer was stillborn, this film really struck a chord with me but it helped me understand the pain my parents would have felt. It is an extremely important film, not just because it tackles such a widely misunderstood and often disregarded subject but also the powerful messages behind each interviewee’s story. The film utilises the parcipatory style of documentary film making, with couples showing with their experiences how they have coped and how they’ve been affected by the experience. These key aspects covered such as the paternal grief felt and toxic masculinity expectations, fallout of friendships and the fact that in most cases the lost babies have siblings who are also affected. Howard intertwines these with the overarching subject. These are all vital points of consideration in the important pursuit of helping those families affected by stillbirth.
Still Loved is difficult viewing at times, naturally, because of the content but it is a documentary and these truths deserve to be heard. These are real people who have made the choice to share their difficult stories, to help their grieving process but also to inform people about still birth. Howard’s film is not without hope. These people may have lost their children but the film shows how they’ve found other ways to cope with the grief and enjoy life. These scenes of joy juxtapose their struggles and culminate in a film which balances understanding the pain of stillbirth whilst offering new optimism. It is really touching to see the outcome for some of these people and their strength and courage. Whilst the lost loved will not always preoccupy their minds they will always be still loved.
Dir: Debbie Howard
Scr: Debbie Howard
DOP: Debbie Howard
Run Time: 70 Mins
Still Loved is on limited release in cinemas as part of Baby Loss Awareness Month
They also did an interview with Director, Debbie Howard. You can read this here.
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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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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!
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The Still Loved team have just spent a busy and incredibly productive week at the Sheffield International Documentary Festival, one of the world’s best film documentary film festivals – and in our home town.
It was a very busy week for us, having many meetings and promoting Still Loved to programers, exhibitors and distributors around the world.
We had a lot of interest from Distributors and Sales Agents, but are still considering all our options at the moment. There was a great deal of excitment and support for Still Loved and we can’t wait for the film to be completed and get the film out to film festivals as soon as possible.
We saw some fantastic films at the festival this year including our talented friend and Sheffield filmmaker Dan Gordon’s Match 64: The Maracanā along with Relish, a short film about Sheffield’s favourite sauce: Henderson’s Relish. Dark Horse was a firm favouirte, Directed by Louise Osmond and Edited by Still Loved editor Joby Gee. Other highlights were My Beautiful Broken Brain Directed by Lotje Sodderland and Sophie Robinson, A Syrian Love Story by Sean McAllister, The Russian Woodpecker Directed by Chad Gracia, Kim Longinotto’s Dreamcatcher and Kirby Dick’s The Hunting Ground amogst many others. We now have 3 months to watch all the ones we missed on the Videotech.
This week we have almost finished the sound mix on Still Loved. The sound team at Molinare have done a wonderful job. Dialogue Editor Claire Ellis, Sound Effects Editor Tom Foster and Sound Re Recording Mixer Nas Parkash have worked for a couple of weeks getting everything ready for the final mix with George Foulgham who has put everything together over the last few days.
Director, Debbie Howard, worked with George and Nas this week in the mix, working in the beautiful score from Jack Ketch. It’s all coming together to create a fantastic, cinematic mix for Still Loved.
Our team gathered yesterday for a review of the mix, leaving us just one day to tweak and make finishing touches to the music and sound very soon.
As well as our Director and sound team at Molinare, our Producers Colin Pons and Polly Perkins, Editor Joby Gee and Composer Jack Ketch met to review the film which went down incredibly well.
That just left Debbie, Colin and Polly a good trip back on the train with a bottle of fizz to celebrate! We’ll be completing the mix in a few weeks time once we’ve completed our on line.
Post production on Still Loved is progressing well. The score is almost complete now, with Jack Ketch doing a wonderful job. A bit more tweaking and it will be ready.
Tom Foster has been working on our Sound Effects and Claire Ellis has been our dialogue Editor. Des Murray has been preparing the first stage of our on line, and we’ve been getting our credits ready.Nas Parkash is our Sound Re Recording Mixer, who is preparing for the final mix next week with George Foulgham. It’s sounding wonderful so far.
This week we completed our colour grade with our Colourist Chris Rodgers. Director Debbie Howard and Director of Photography, Emma Dalesman worked closely with Chris to get exactly the right look and feel for Still Loved and we’re delighted with the results, it’s looking absolutely gorgeous!
Big thanks to Chris for doing such a wonderful job. It was a pleasure grading in the beautiful grading suite at Molinare with full size cinema screen, instead of on a computer, being able to see the detail really helped us to get the best cinematic look for the film and work on subtle detail. We’re incredibly happy with the results.
Our Composer, Jack Ketch, has just completed the first pass on the score, which is sounding fantastic so far, there’ll be a bit more work to do on this over the next two or three weeks. We’re having a full 5:1 surround sound mix for Still Loved to give it the optimum finish for cinemas.
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We have filmed our final scene of Still Loved, and what a beautiful scene it will be.
We went with Eve to Padley Gorge, in the stunning Peak District to scatter her son, Jordan’s ashes. It was a beautiful moment to share with Eve and wonderful to see that she has turned a real corner and come to a new resolve and a new phase in her life. It was an honour to be part of this day with her.
We were very lucky with the weather, and although a little chilly, it was a dry day with some lovely sunshine, the perfect way to enjoy this beautiful setting. We loved that our two DoP’s turned up in matching blue woolly hats without planning it.
Big thanks to the crew for being part of this wonderful day, and most of all to Eve Mpondi for allowing us to film this very personal moment.