With an established career in film and media, writer and producer Duncan Paveling started a family, discovered Raising Films and during the production of his debut feature MY FERAL HEART provided care for a member of his extended family. We’re delighted, in the lead-up to the launch of our WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT CARING survey, to be able to share Duncan’s story…
Since our teenage years, both my wife and I have worked in media, myself primarily in film, whilst my wife in TV and now (print) advertising. Whilst we had known of each other in our teenage years, we met in 2003 (on a train – just like Jesse and Celine) and whilst not quite Vienna (actually the Bakerloo Line in London), it was no less romantic for us than that of the ‘Before’ trilogy.
Now in our tenth year of marriage, we had always wanted to have a family and very early on, discussed how we would love to share and support one another in both parenting and work. Though when it came to having a family, sadly it was not as straight forward as we had hoped, with numerous complications and the loss of a baby in 2016, we began IVF treatment in the hope of having the family we had always wished for. Fortunately, with the amazing support of family, friends and the wonderful Guys & St Thomas Hospital, we welcomed our little miracle Indiana Nancy Paveling in November 2017 (pictured) and as you can see, she’s pretty damn perfect.
The years we spent trying for a family, were full of challenges on a personal level, yet professionally we experienced so many wonderful times, which we have often cited as one of the things that not only gave us solace, but an escape from the difficulty of loss and the uncertainty of becoming a family. It was during this time that MY FERAL HEART was written, produced and released, to an incredibly warm and humbling response, it took us to festivals all around the world and finally to a record-breaking independent theatrical release via Ourscreen, numerous awards, three BIFA nominations and incredible support from the likes of Mark Kermode, Wendy Ide, Sally Phillips, Jo Whiley, Lee Mead and many more; for which we’ll always be eternally grateful.
Raising Films came to my attention after I saw co-founder Hope Dickson Leach discuss the initiative with Mark Kermode and for so many reasons I was intrigued. I’m aware that initially Raising Films was established to create valuable discussion and change around the (lack of) support in enabling women to have and to raise a family whilst continuing or returning to work in the film industry. Something that has undoubtedly contributed to the imbalance of women compared to men in film; coupled with the general archaic attitudes toward woman in film.
As a male working in this industry I have been appalled by the revelations of recent times (and beyond), and dearly hope that we are now building the foundation of significant change, which will allow talent to be recognised, respected and nurtured without prejudice.
Whilst I feel passionately about equality, I know that the findings of Raising Films led to a wider issue, one that perhaps on a personal level I am able to relate to a little more closely; that of enabling one to care for a loved one in need, but be supported adequately enough to continue to work in one’s chosen profession.
Alongside my work in film, I have, since teenage years, been fortunate to work (both voluntary and in later life as a qualified therapist) with families in the care system, whether that’s providing therapy to individuals and families, or supporting families to gain respite care for both self and their loved ones. Through these experiences I witnessed the challenges so many went through to gain access to and provide care to those in need, so many that were unable to work due to the lack of support available to them, regardless of profession.
The findings of Raising Films highlighted the distinct lack of support to not only parents and their children, but to those caring for their loved ones in ill-health, or well-being, something I have witnessed first hand. Interestingly, during the production of MY FERAL HEART, our lead Steven Brandon (and parents) were in fact experiencing a long term battle to secure the funding and support, to enable Steven to move into supported living accommodation. Alongside this and production, I myself was supporting and caring for a dear relative (and Godfather) with Parkinson’s disease, something that was without question and that I would do again in a heartbeat; knowing that it provided the dignity that he deserved at that time of his life, as does everyone. Though I know this is not always the case and can appreciate how difficult it can be, to provide a sufficient level of care, whilst working, a level of care that, even then never felt enough.
It is these experiences that highlight the importance of the work Raising Films do. As a new parent myself, it has always been a desire to be a present father, one that is able to share responsibility and support my wife, to allow us both to continue working in the jobs we love, whilst also savouring every waking moment of parenthood, especially having gone through so much to be a family; neither of us wish to miss anymore than necessary. Though with this in mind, I know that my current position is a fortunate one, having recently secured the backing of dear friends and now partners in Dull Boy Pictures, Gavin Thain and Gareth Stanley, I am able to focus on the development of future projects, with the security of finance and the understanding of working with a family, in a creative industry.
It is with this in mind, I know that any future production from Dull Boy Pictures, will ensure that we provide the opportunity for parents to be able to access appropriate childcare and resources to enable them to continue working, whilst spending time with their family. At the time of production on MY FERAL HEART I was not aware of Raising Films, though were fortunate to be able to shoot in an area (South East Essex) that many of us grew up in, or in fact still live. This enabled a large majority of cast/crew to be near their family, even go home to their own beds at night.
The subject of family relationships has always featured strongly in my ideas and writing and is intrinsically important on a personal level. MY FERAL HEART was no different, focusing on the similarities people share, as opposed the differences, the idea of caring for others without question of their circumstances or abilities. I dearly hope the work of Raising Films will continue to be one of many voices and forces behind a change in the industry and that in our lifetime words and phrases such a sexism, racism, dissolve and everyone can be treated equally, ensuring respect and opportunity to all, with the only ‘ism’ on our lips being that of ‘Humanism’.
Duncan Paveling is an award-winning, BIFA long-listed Screenwriter, Founder of Dull Boy Pictures and Movie Clinic columnist for Film Stories Magazine. Duncan has had an eclectic life in film, which began as a Music Assistant to the award-winning Composer Barrington Pheloung, working on projects such as the BAFTA winning INSPECTOR MORSE and the Academy Award nominated HILARY & JACKIE (1998).
He went onto the work as a Freelance Camera Assistant on a variety of projects, which included documentaries for Tiger Aspect and the BBC. Then after a couple of years freelancing, Duncan joined Magnet Films, established by the late Sir David Frost, were he began to learn his craft as a writer.
More recently Duncan has written and developed a number of screenplays, including the critically acclaimed and BIFA nominated MY FERAL HEART (2016), his debut feature as Writer and Producer.
Dull Boy Pictures is currently in development of a number of feature film projects, including THE OTHER SIDE, which will reunite Duncan with the award-winning MY FERAL HEART Director Jane Gull.
WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT CARING – our major research into carers launches in March 2019.
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