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Crowdfunder opens for Sheffield short film exploring impact of dementia

Two writers raise funds for Mr Wong's Lullaby, a new local film project looking at memory, care and compassion.

How it started

A crowdfunder has opened for a new short film which draws on its writers' personal and professional experiences of care to look at dementia with humour and empathy.

We spoke to Clare Langford and Anni Swinburn to find out what inspired Mr Wong's Lullaby and how they hope to raise money from the creative community to make it a reality.

Tell us about the film.

Anni Swinburn: Mr Wong’s Lullaby is a short film about a stressed social worker who also cares for her elderly father Horace, who has dementia. This is a particularly bad day as Horace is having flashbacks to his time in a Japanese POW camp. Norah has to get off to work where she is the duty social worker, but the day centre ring to say they're closed so she has to leave Horace ‘home alone’.

She is torn with conflicting responsibilities, as is common in the life of a carer, when all the cards are precariously stacked and can fall at a slight change of the wind. Norah’s colleague and her neighbour Mr Wong both come to the rescue in their own ways.

Clare Langford: The film is a day in the life of two people, each with their own personal battles to fight. It's a story of how ordinary people survive quietly, with occasional helping hands from the people around them.

Is the script inspired by your experience as a social worker?

AS: In many ways it is, in particular how emotionally charged and difficult encounters tend to happen on the very day you feel ill-equipped to deal with them.

In social work there's a constant conflict between dealing with your own personal issues and offering a professional service. Sometimes the cracks will show and it's important to know when you can battle through or when you need to get help yourself. We're all only human.

CL: I don’t have any background in social work, but I spent a year as a live-in carer for someone in the late stages of Alzheimer’s. I watched as the family struggled to balance their own lives with caring for their mother.

Whats App Image 2021 01 24 at 12 05 20 PM

Anni Swinburn (top-left) and Clare Langford (top-right), with production manager Jean-Pierre Clapes and production assistant Manuel Rivas Romero.

The thing that struck me was that it was extremely difficult to access the necessary care needed, and that it could be extremely traumatic, both for the mother and the children. It was a case of finding the humour in the darkest moments – if you don’t laugh, you might cry!

How can people support the production?

AS: Funding for arts projects is always an issue, and due to coronavirus obtaining a grant has not been possible. Clare has decided to direct the film, and through contacts in London, where she lives, has found a great cinematographer. He will bring his camera team with him.

We currently have a Production Manager and Assistant from London too, and an Assistant Director and sound team who are based in Sheffield. It's looking like our cast and crew will be almost 50% local. We need to pay all these creatives, so supporting the crowdfunder will help pay the wages of local creatives who are currently without income.

We’re pleased to announce that we’re now partnered with TIDE (Together In Dementia Everyday), a UK network of carers and healthcare professionals who work closely to support carers of those living with dementia. 50% of any money raised over our target will go directly to TIDE to assist their work in the community. We’re also delighted to have Sheffield-based Steve Hawley, Emeritus Professor from Manchester School of Art and award-winning filmmaker, as the new patron for Rookie Films.

What's the plan for making the film once the crowdfunder is complete?

AS: The shoot will be three to four days in a home and garden location in Sheffield with a half day shoot in offices in Dronfield, all kindly donated by friends and supporters who want to see the project succeed. Upon completion we hope Mr Wong’s Lullaby will be shown on the European short film circuit.

CL: Our long term goal is to co-write and produce a feature film, hopefully bringing a lot of our creative team with us. Working on short films can be hugely challenging, but it’s a great way to learn how everyone works together and what your strengths (and weaknesses) are!

Follow Mr Wong's Lullaby on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


Our Cow Molly is sponsoring Rookie Films by offering ice cream tubs to those who donate.

by Sam Gregory (he/him)

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