Swings and Roundabouts by theatre makers turned film makers

Swings and Roundabouts 
A short film by Frances Loy 
Starring Melissa Woodbridge and John Heffernan, a film about grief after miscarriage 
Copa Shorts Film Fest 2020: 7 – 10 November 
Further screenings TBA Trailer: https://vimeo.com/396241390 

Charting the grief of a couple who have lost a child, Swings and Roundabouts is a new short film addressing the heart-breaking realities behind the statistic that one in four pregnancies end in miscarriage. Prompted by a mother’s distress in a playground, Sarah (Melissa Woodbridge) is sent into a spiral of grief and panic. Her husband Paul (John Heffernan) tries to provide the emotional and practical support she needs, but as he struggles with his own grief the chasm between them widens. John Heffernan is most recently known for his role as Jonathan Harker in Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat’s Dracula on Netflix. 

Swings and Roundabouts is the debut film from writer and director Frances Loy and producer Libby Brodie, theatre makers turned filmmakers who have created this film as women and mothers who know that miscarriage is a subject that is ignored in vast areas of arts and media. The film is sponsored by Kodak and shot entirely on 16mm film. 

Producer Libby Brodie said, “One in four pregnancies end in miscarriage or stillbirth but this is rarely reflected in mainstream media which can leave those experiencing it feeling isolated, ignored, confused or misguidedly guilty. Creatively led by brilliant, international, female filmmakers, we hope this film fosters conversation on the issue for both men and women and sheds light on this common tragedy.” 

Writer and director Frances Loy said, “Miscarriage happens through no fault of the mother, the father, the fates. This scientific fact and common statistic doesn’t make it any less painful, doesn’t stop parents grieving the loss of a child they’d hoped for, doesn’t stop them blaming themselves and doesn’t stop them keeping this sad secret in the hope of not upsetting people outside of this experience. 

“In researching the story I realised I had many female friends I’d spoken to about their miscarriages in the past, so I made more of an effort to talk to male friends who had gone through the same. So often this is seen as a women’s issue because of course the physical process happens to the mother – but it’s a human issue. Among the things I heard from men were “I am not entitled to grieve”, “it’s my job to support her”, “I don’t know any other dads who have been through this”. It was important to me to show the emotional repercussions of miscarriage on the father, without diminishing the experience of the mother. This is a story of the shared and individual grief one couple goes through when they experience miscarriage.” 

Frances Loy is a theatre director whose work has traversed from traditional spaces to immersive experiences to virtual reality, from London to New York and Los Angeles. She co-founded and was Artistic Director of alternative space company Theatre Delicatessen in London from 2007-2012. Since moving to Los Angeles in 2013 she has built immersive experiences for brands and commercials, directed work in traditional spaces and dabbled with 360 VR filmmaking; she also directs audiobooks for Penguin Random House, recently collaborating with Jeff Goldblum on Norman Einstein’s The Last Palace. Frances has recently shadowed on shows such The Orville (Fox), Tales of the City (Netflix) and Grace and Frankie (Netflix). 

Swings and Roundabouts stars John Heffernen and Melissa Woodbridge. John Heffernen’s television credits include playing Jonathan Harker in Netflix’s Dracula, and include lead or featured guest parts in BrexitCollateralDickensianThe CrownLuther Season IVRipper Street and Jonathan Strange and Mister Norrell. Melissa Woodbridge recently starred as Elvira opposite Angela Landsbury in Blithe Spirit. She features in the new series of David Mitchell and Robert Webb’s TV comedy Back, and plays the lead in Dawn King’s new feature film My One and Only due for release in 2021. 

John Heffernan said, “I thought the script for Swings and Roundabouts was really fascinating. It takes a real skill to write a short film and this script painted such a beautiful portrait of Paul and Sarah. The subject matter is also important. Baby loss is something which isn’t often addressed, and it needs to be. It happens so often but that’s not mirrored in the television and film that I’ve seen.” 

Running Time: 11 mins | Suitable for ages 12+, contains themes some viewers may find upsetting 

Company information 

Writer and director Frances Loy 

Producer Libby Brodie 

Editor Jay Tanner                                 Production designer Kat Heath 

Director of photography David Bird      Production manager Natalie Gothelf 

Executive producer Rachel Gold 


Sarah: Melissa Woodbridge       Paul: John Heffernan 

Jen: Olivia Squier 

Listings information 

7 – 10 November (further dates TBA) 

Copa Shorts Film Fest 2020