Guest post written by Debbie Howard for our theme week on Infertility, Miscarriage, and Infant Loss for Bitch Flicks.
Google “stillbirth in film,” and you will see next to nothing come up about this subject matter. What does come up is very current, as people are starting to look at this a little more just now. I know of two or three films happening worldwide about this subject matter at the moment. At long last. There is a feature film called Return to Zero being made in the USA, and there was a documentary called Capturing a Short Life made in 2008 in Canada. I also saw a documentary a few years ago called Limbo Babies, very late at night on TV, and have never been able to find anything else about this since. There is little else other than my work
I completed my short drama Peekaboo nearly two years ago, but I started writing it about three years before that. I had two friends who had experienced baby loss, one to miscarriage and one who had given her baby up for adoption. I had a dream one night that merged these two stories together; this was the beginning of Peekaboo, which is about a couple who has lost three babies to stillbirth. I wrote a first draft of the script then started researching in great detail as I developed the script. I was shocked to discover that hardly anything had been made about this subject before.
Not being one who’s put off easily, this fueled me to want to look at the subject matter again, and I felt a documentary would be more powerful. There is no one better equipped to tell stories of baby loss than the parents themselves. Due to the fantastic contacts I’d already made on Peekaboo, I had a pool of parents all very keen to take part in the film, and I started selecting the right characters and stories for Still Born, Still Loved.
For more information, and to support the film or buy a copy of Peekaboo (all proceeds to Still Loved), please contact me at email@example.com or see our website at
I’m really proud of the work we’re doing around stillbirth and baby loss, and I’m very grateful to all those who are supporting us. Together we will break the silence.
In our film, we also use parents’ own photographs and video footage of their time spent with their babies when they were stillborn. This, of course, is both very powerful and greatly upsetting, but I feel it is important for people to really see this firsthand. It certainly makes a huge impact and shows that these babies were a real-life son or daughter to these parents who love them dearly and always will.
An interesting question for me, when someone loses their first child, is “Can you call yourself a parent if you don’t have any children?” This is one of the questions we attempt to answer. If you ask someone what a parent is, they think of someone with one or more children, bringing up a child, caring for their needs, organising their birthday party, and tucking them into bed at night. But when you have carried a baby, spent months planning and imagining their future, gone through labour and childbirth, held your son or daughter in your arms, felt overwhelming love for your child and miss them every single day, you are definitely a parent, too. You find creative and interesting ways to spend time with your child, celebrate, and remember them.
Mel Scott with her son Finley
Still Loved Synopsis:
How do you survive when the baby you’ve been expecting for months dies before you have the chance to ever really know them? When on the day you were supposed to be bringing your baby home, you have to carry a tiny coffin and see them buried in the cold, hard ground? What happens to all the love you feel for your child? How do you move forward with your life with a heavy heart and empty arms?
This documentary goes right to the heart of the human suffering caused by the loss of a tiny life. There is no greater suffering for any parent to bear than the death of their child.
Our film is special because each of the stories within it has a powerful, life-affirming message, as the parents involved work through their suffering to accomplish something really spectacular in memory of their baby. The outcome will be uplifting and inspiring and will highlight how even the most vulnerable people can triumph in the face of adversity.
Still Born, Still Loved is a feature-length documentary, and I want it to get seen by a wide audience in cinemas and on television. I went back to our main sponsors on Peekaboo and asked if they wanted to help us get started. Through the great generosity of three women, all of whom have suffered stillbirth firsthand, and some more crowdfunding, we raised the money needed to film a very powerful pilot, which we have now completed. You can watch it here: https://vimeo.com/61217978.
Because I had no funding to make Peekaboo, I had to crowdfund, asking for donations to help me raise the money I needed for the film. This was a blessing in disguise, because as well as raising the money, I met a great number of parents via social media who had lost babies, and I got to know some of them well. With their help, I was able to complete the film to a high standard and use two of the UK’s finest actors in the lead roles.
“A wonderfully tender and compassionate articulation of love and loss. Peekaboo unwraps the layers of grief and emotional reconciliation with heartbreaking precision and sensitivity.” –Caroline Cooper Charles, Creative England
You can watch the Peekaboo trailer here: https://vimeo.com/42260999.
Finley Scott in his coffin
Debbie Howard is a writer/director. She set up Big Buddha Films eight years ago and specialises in making films with a strong female voice that tackle human dilemmas and show the vulnerabilities of human existence. She is a single mum and lives in Sheffield with her two teenage children