Donations help Sheffield director tackle traumatic subject

stillbirthEB''Still shot from Peekaboo film made by Debbie Howard
stillbirthEB''Still shot from Peekaboo film made by Debbie Howard
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FOUR years ago independent Sheffield film-maker Debbie Howard wrote a movie about the ‘taboo’ and traumatic subject of stillbirth.

Now, on Saturday, her short production will finally have its preview screening in the city’s Showroom Cinema.

However, what the viewers cannot see on the big screen is the long journey behind the scenes to create the film, a challenge which only ended last week.

For Peekaboo - starring Lesley Sharp and Barnsley actor Shaun Dooley – has come to fruition in a very unusual way.

From £5 to £3,000, it is donations, some from people affected by stillbirth, that have paid for the majority of the project as creative funding had dried up.

Award-winning mum Debbie, who runs production company Big Buddha Films and lives in Nether Edge, said: “I spent pretty much a full year fundraising.

“We got all kinds of donations, from £5 to £3,000 until we raised £10,000 so the film could be shot.

“It’s all been done in bits and pieces.

“It wasn’t even a case of been able to say ‘I want this edited in a month’.

“The outcome of it is just as good, but it just took longer to get together.”

In total, £22,000 was collected with only one grant from a London charity. Everyone who donated to the cause has been rewarded, from a credit to preview invites.

It shows the breadth of support for Peekaboo, which follows grieving couple Emily and Andy as they struggle to maintain their relationship in the aftermath of stillbirth.

Charity SANDS has also backed the production, filmed in Sheffield, for raising awareness of the subject.

Debbie - whose daughter Jasmine has a small part in the film - said: “I just thought the subject was something that really needed to be looked at.

“Stillbirth is still a bit of a taboo subject.

“People don’t really know how to react to it. Losing a baby is traumatic enough and people can feel even more isolated when people don’t know what to say.

“It was something I felt very passionate about. It’s not a personal story, thankfully, but I did know quite a few people who had been through miscarriage and stillbirth, so I think that is what inspired me.”

The premiere on Saturday is full but there are plans to show Peekaboo in Sheffield in future, once it has been to various film festivals.

Debbie, 46, said: “I am excited about putting it in front of an audience now and seeing what the response is.”