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  • Who, what, why?


    Ian Hawkins - director, A Nuclear FamilyIan Hawkins is a documentary filmmaker from Manchester, UK but based in Berlin. He filmed, recorded, interviewed, directed, wrote, edited and produced the film. It was co-produced by Kirstie Adamson.

    Out of nine people in Ian’s family, only four agreed to take part. Even those who did take part were deeply uncomfortable with the project. Re-counting painful memories on camera is daunting. The project was not welcomed by anyone and, at the time of writing, only one family member has watched the film.

    As a viewer of a film, even a documentary, it’s easy to see the people on screen as two dimensional. But all the people in A Nuclear Family are real. At times, painfully real. No matter whether you think one person is more to blame than the other, we all make mistakes. We sincerely hope that viewers will be respectful of the people and stories in A Nuclear Family.


    A Nuclear Family is a feature length documentary. It is the director’s telling of part of his family’s story. It’s not complete and it’s not everyone’s point of view, but it’s an attempt to be fair and represent what happened to an ordinary family.


    Most people would be horrified by the idea of making a film about their own family’s problems. But as Ian says in the film, “Things hadn’t turned out brilliantly, and I thought, making this film was the only positive thing I could make of a bad situation.”

    Every family has a story to tell – a skeleton in the cupboard or an elephant in the room. Ian’s family experienced its fair share of ups and downs, and these had a profound impact on everyone involved. And as family is a universal theme, maybe Ian could make a film a family by pointing the camera at his own.

    So instead of using another person’s story to express himself, Ian decided to look to himself. And in doing so, gave himself the biggest creative challenge of his life. Could he be a subject of the film and objective? Could he be fair? Could he even get enough material together to make a film?


    Making films costs money. A lot of money. The budget for an average documentary will start at around €100,000. A Nuclear Family was made for less than €1000.

    Secondhand equipment, older technology and a bit or drive to do to get something done. That’s all you need to make a film – that and at least 1000 hours of editing and post-production.

    Despite the low-budget, A Nuclear Family is Ian’s most advanced film so far. It isn’t real HD but it’s the first genuinely broadcast quality production.


    The interviews took place throughout 2010, with editing and post-production throughout 2011 and 2012. The film was released as free online movie in early 2013.


    Interviews took place in Cheshire and Devon. Editing and post-production took place in Berlin.



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