Love, Life, Death in a Day
Producer/director Sue Bourne
Wellpark Productions for Channel 4
The challenge To take one location, on one day, and tell the story of all the births, deaths and marriages - a film that would become a unique snapshot of contemporary Britain.
The location: we needed a city big enough to give us numbers and variety, where the statistics of birth, death and marriage matched the national average, and which was easily accessible from our base in London. Bristol ticked all the right boxes. So Bristol it was.
The day: Friday 20 June - the longest day of the year was also far enough away to give us the research time we needed.
This would be the fourth film co-producer and director Sam Emmery and I had made together. We spent weeks in Bristol setting everything up in advance, starting with the Bristol Registry Office, which sent out letters on our behalf to the 15 scheduled weddings that day. We were not instantly swamped with responses so we began phoning all the venues, florists and photographers, eventually making contact with all the couples, after which we chose the six weddings to feature in the film.
Birth was the next subject. We chose the most helpful hospital we contacted and enlisted its support. Of the three elective C-sections they had booked in, only one couple was willing to take part. But the film needed more than one birth so the rest would have to be picked up on the day itself.
Death was by far the most difficult to cover. As funerals are only booked a week in advance we knew this part of the story would have to be done at the last minute. People were reluctant to take part until we spoke to Rachel. Not only was she Bristol's only female undertaker but she also had a funeral on the 20th.
Sam and I went to meet Martin's grief-stricken family. Martin was 26 years old when he died and, touchingly, his family thought that having a film crew at his funeral would be something he'd have liked.
A day later we were introduced to Brian, who also agreed to let us film the West Indian funeral he was organising for his uncle. Now, with two very different funerals we had the variety we needed.
We also carefully chose our team of 20 people to work with us on the day. Everything was worked out with military precision and everyone clearly briefed. It was very exciting. And very scary.
The crews worked from midnight to midnight. We all met again in the foyer of our hotel 24 hours later. Knackered, but job done!
Cutting Edge: Love, Life, Death in a Day airs on Channel 4 on 26 February at 9pm