Looking at London-based Films of Record’s body of work, many of the docs that come out of this prodco tell the stories of communities and families in extraordinary circumstances. The company behind Kim Longinotto’s Hold Me Tight, Let Me Go recently released Revenge of the Bin Men, Teen Mum High and will be debuting The Millionaire and the Murder Mansion and Health & Safety: May Contain Nuts (w/t) this month. Realscreen spoke with Nick Poyntz and Eve Kay about Films of Record’s upcoming projects.
Films of Record’s new doc The Millionaire and the Murder Mansion for Channel 4 tells the story of a millionaire, Christopher Foster, whose house went up in flames on the August bank holiday in England in 2008. The story gripped the UK as details came back that CCTV footage had caught Foster shooting his wife and daughter before setting his house on fire and killing himself, and details of his financial problems came to light.
It’s due to Films of Record’s experience with these types of stories that they were able to obtain access to the West Mercia Police investigators and the family of the Fosters in order to make the film. Director Nick Poyntz says when Films of Record approached the police in hopes of gaining access to the details behind the investigation, two other production companies were looking for the same access. ‘We have quite a lot of experience working sensitively with families but also with police forces,’ says Poyntz. ‘But I think one of the reasons we won the bid is because we didn’t put any expectations on the police in terms of delivering the family.’ They went after the family themselves and after a number of meetings and discussions, Christopher Foster’s mother and brother agreed to participate, as did Foster’s sister-in-law, a number of their closest friends and their housekeeper.
The film follows the housekeeper’s daily journey to the house as she describes what she found that day, and uses the forensic team, the CCTV footage, family pictures and the Fosters’ wedding video to take the viewer inside the family’s lives. ‘ It’s an epic tale but within one family so you can identify with them; they were normal at that point,’ says Poyntz.
On a lighter note, Films of Record have another project in the works for BBC about the frustrating, and sometimes hilarious, antics of the health and safety board in the UK. Executive producer Eve Kay’s doc, tentatively titled Health & Safety: May Contain Nuts, follows the projects of health and safety officials that have them policing common sense. One of those projects in ‘topple testing’ of grave stones, spurred on when a little boy was killed by a falling stone. This initiative had councils testing thousands of grave stones to see if they wobbled.
‘If you go to a graveyard and one of your relatives is buried there and you find one of the graves is staked or even worse, it’s been toppled, they actually pushed it flat onto the ground. It’s like a desecration basically, it’s like ‘official vandalism,” says Kay. ‘And it’s all because someone might get squashed by a toppled grave.’
The film contrasts things like topple testing with the original spirit of health and safety, which was to protect people at their workplace. According to Kay’s research, six people per month die on building sites and yet health and safety are not making more visits to workplaces to test their safety. ‘[In] the area where we could actually be helping people, the money isn’t being put there,’ says Kay. ‘This meddling is driving common sense from our shores; it doesn’t really teach the younger generation about risk when you just wrap something in cotton wool.’
Health & Safety: May Contain Nuts(w/t) will air on BBC One’s ‘Panorama’ slot Monday, April 20 and The Millionaire and the Murder Mansion will air tonight (Thursday April 9) on C4.