Sunday night saw the entire Shanks family attending the BIFA’s, a glittering awards ceremony celebrating all that is best in the world of British Independent Film Making. It was all very surreal, walking down the red carpet and having dozens of photographers taking pictures and shouting directions to us to look this way and that, and stand here and there, all very confusing!
Party time at the BIFA’s!
It was a fabulous night and we had the best time, we didn’t win Best Documentary but just being nominated and being in the top 5 was accolade enough when you consider how many documentaries were submitted. It was an experience we will never forget and a huge ‘Thank You’ to Netflix for enabling us to be there.
The morning after saw Lucy, Julia, James and I plus 2 babies (Lucy’s and Julia’s) at Broadcasting House for Woman’s Hour! It was my first time on Woman’s Hour and very exciting, I’d been really looking forward to it. It was Jane Garvey, a tough presenter and she had some pretty hard-hitting questions to ask.
‘The Gang’ at Woman’s Hour!
Having covered the back story to the film she mentioned that she had felt uncomfortable at watching parts of the film, as though she was intruding into our lives. She’s the first person to say this, most people feel that whilst the film is very intimate and raw, the way it was filmed meant they didn’t feel as though they were intruding. We wanted the film to be extremely honest and hard-hitting, we wanted to start conversations around the issues raised in the film, and you can’t accomplish that unless people feel strongly in some way when watching it.
She also asked Lucy whether she ever felt as though she was intruding too much.
Lucy answered by telling Jane that she knew not everything would end up in the final cut and as we had total control over the finished film she knew that some of the hardest things may never be broadcast. She also said that she felt it was important that some of the hardest moments be caught on camera as they were important to the essence of the film. We had total faith in Lucy and never had any reason to question her integrity.
Jane then asked me how many times I asked Lucy to put the camera down and ‘push off’?
The answer to that one is NEVER! I knew, as Lucy did, that we had total control over the final cut and felt that everything should be filmed so that we had the choice.
The truth of it is that I never asked Lucy to stop, but there was one occasion when I told her to carry on and she decided herself to put the camera down. That was a huge moment for us, we knew then that we could trust Lucy implicitly, she has become one of our closest friends over the years and we love her dearly.
Jane also asked whether it was right of me to put the children through making the film, and was it too much for them now that it’s out, in view of how much they’ve already been through?
I agonised over this one for the entire 4 years of making the film, but the children kept reassuring me that they wanted to do it, and they knew they would have the opportunity to cut anything out of the final edit if they didn’t feel comfortable with it. They felt safe in Lucy’s very capable and compassionate hands and were always passionate about the whole thing being totally ‘real’.
Do they regret making it now that it’s available to the entire world?
No, if anything they are even happier about the project now that it’s out. We’ve been swamped with messages from all over the planet thanking us for making such an honest film about the realities of the subjects it covers. The people who’ve watched it say they feel reassured that they’re not the only ones experiencing some of the issues raised and they now understand people they are close to much better.
Jane also made the statement that she felt ‘besmirched’ after watching the film. This seemed to be a slightly unusual way of describing her feelings and very personal to her. Besmirched means:-
The interview is here…
Numerous people have also messaged us to tell us that they were contemplating taking their own lives but have now changed their minds because they realise the terrible impact on the people they would leave behind. That is a powerful reason for being so happy that we saw the project through to its conclusion.
And it does cover all kinds of things that we feel uncomfortable with, but knowing that people can relate to it and are potentially being helped makes that pale into insignificance. If a little discomfort for us can change a few things then it’s all worthwhile.
Without controversy and discomfort there is no debate, and there must be conversation around subjects that make us uncomfortable.