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Microbirth is an award-winning documentary about the microbiome, birth and life-long health.
Toni Harman
630 Facebook Friends
United Kingdom
1 Team Member


Microbirth won the top prize, the Grand Prix Award, at the Life Sciences Film Festival in Prague, Czech Republic.


Microbirth premiered with over 350 public screenings in 45 countries (with hundreds more private screenings).

To watch the film, go to http://microbirth.com


For more info, go to:


Thank you so much for your amazing support, contributions, shares, likes, tweets and wonderful messages of support."Microbirth" has now launched and hopefully is on a journey towards huge success! We hope the film helps raise awareness of the importance of the microscopic processes happening during childbirth and that it becomes a catalyst to bring about change all around the world.

We couldn't do this without you. Thanks again from the bottom of our hearts.

Toni & Alex, MicroBirth filmmakers.




Filmmaker Toni Harman has just published an article about Microbirth in the HUFFINGTON POST. If you can please read it, like it, share it and tweet it! It's called:

"Microbirth: Why 'Seeding Baby's Microbiome' Needs To Be On Every Birth Plan."


Filmmakers Toni Harman and Alex Wakeford explain why they are making this film and what you can do to play your part. After all, films don't change the world. But YOU can!


Who Are We?

We are two British filmmakers, Toni Harman and Alex Wakeford.

We trained at the London Film School (which is where we met, but back then it was called the London International Film School). For the past twenty years, we have been producing films - internationally distributed short films, documentaries and a feature film. We are also parents and the co-founders of ONE WORLD BIRTH.

In 2012, we made a documentary called FREEDOM FOR BIRTH. The film premiered with over 1,000 screenings in 50 countries in 17 languages, with a combined audience of 100,000 people seeing the film on just one day. These screenings helped catapult the issue of women's rights in childbirth into the global spotlight.

Our next film, "MICROBIRTH" is on a much bigger scale. The difference it could make is incredible.

We believe our next film "MICROBIRTH" has the potential to be the catalyst that changes birth around the world forever.

What's "MICROBIRTH" About?

"MICROBIRTH" is a feature-length documentary looking at birth in a whole new way, through the lens of a microscope. 

The film explores the latest scientific research into the microscopic events that occur during and immediately after birth.

This compelling, brand new science is starting to indicate that if the natural processes of childbirth are interfered with or bypassed completely, this could have devastating consequences for the long-term health of our children.

Just to be clear, this film is not calling for an end to interventions as many times they are essential and they can be life-saving.

But as this new science is starting to indicate, the use of synthetic oxytocin to induce or speed up labour (Pitocin / Syntocinon), antibiotics, C-section, the routine separation of mother and baby immediately after birth and formula feeding, could significantly raise the risk of our children developing serious disease later in life.

And as the film shows, the medicalisation of childbirth could even be contributing to a potential global human catastrophe predicted to happen by the year 2030.

This catastrophe could have a devastating impact for the future of our species.

The clock is clicking down to an event that we have been describing as "global warming for the species".

But there is hope. "MICROBIRTH" suggests a potential solution. For this new science is presenting us all with a golden opportunity. For if we act now to make change happen, we could improve the life-long health of our children and we could even put the brakes on this impending global disaster.

This is a factual, scientifically rigorous documentary featuring academics from, amongst others, Ivy League universities and leading institutions from the United States, Canada and Europe.

We believe this film is the most important film we will ever make. But we need your help to get the film finished and seen around the world. So that together, with your help, we can make change happen.

We believe this is a moment in history.

The choice of what happens next is a choice that belongs to all of us.

What Does The Film Explore?

Right now, maternity systems around the world tend to view birth as inherently risky. Doctors and medical professionals do all they can to reduce risk - the risk of a birth going "wrong," the risk of a baby dying, the risk of being sued. (Here's a short One World Birth video we made about the increasingly risk-adverse culture of birth).

The consequence of this risk-adverse way of thinking is the medicalisation of childbirth. Consequently, C-section rates have skyrocketed in the past couple of decades.  In the UK, about a quarter of all births are by C-section. In the US, it's about one third. In China, it's just under half (source: WHO report in the Lancet). In some private hospitals in Brazil, the C-section rate is a staggering 93% (source: Brazilian Journal of Medical and Biological Research Sept 2007 Vol 40 (9), No. 9 1211-1120).

(Photo above London, England - Caesarean Surgery, obstetricians at work. Author Salim Fadhley. 17 Dec 2007 - Photo Source Wikipedia - Caesarean Section)

In many developed nations, routine birth practices include use of synthetic oxytocin (Pitocin / Syntocinon) to induce or speed up labour, use of antibiotics (with antibiotic resistance being a serious threat to humanity in itself), C-section, and routine separation of mother and baby after birth preventing immediate skin-to-skin contact. And many mothers choose formula-feeding due to lack of support for breastfeeding.

The film seeks answers to the following questions:

Could this short-term view of birth be potentially risking the long-term health of our children?

What if these medical interventions in and around childbirth are damaging our children's immune systems?

What exactly are the long-term health consequences of these routine birth practices for babies?

And what about the importance of other biosocial factors, particularly endogenous oxytocin, bonding and breastfeeding? (In the UK, a cross-party manifesto called The 1001 Critical Days: The Importance of Conception To Age Two Period recognises the considerable benefit to getting bonding and neuro-development right.)

And what about potential epigenetic change in childbirth?

With the emergence of the latest scientific evidence from the fields of genetics, epigenetics, immuno-toxicology, physiology, and microbiology (scientists now know about the human microbiome, that we're actually 90% bacteria and only 10% human cells), the film asks isn't it time to look again at our current birth practices before it is too late?

(Photo above: Human Microbiota. Cover Art from "Nature Special" Photo Credit: Joana Ricou / Steven H. Lee / Studio Graphiko.)

What's The Global Disaster?

"MICROBIRTH"  is about emerging scientific research that is starting to link our current birthing practices to the increased risk of our children developing non-communicable disease.

Non-communicable diseases include cardiovascular diseases (including heart disease), chronic respiratory diseases (including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma), cancer, diabetes and mental health.

Today, these diseases are the world's number one killer. They are responsible for killing over 60% of the world's population - that's in developed as well as in developing nations. And these diseases are on the rise. (The World Health Organization estimates a 17% increase over the next decade globally). The World Health Organization has identified the risk factors that contribute to these diseases as tobacco use, physical inactivity, the harmful use of alcohol and unhealthy diets. These diseases are driven by forces that include aging, rapid unplanned urbanization, and the globalization of unhealthy lifestyles.

(Above, a graphic that appeared in the June 2, 2012 issue of The Economist, accompanying an article headlined "Squeezing out the doctor: The role of physicians at the centre of health care is under pressure.")

In a recent report, the World Economic Forum / Harvard School of Public Health - Global Economic Burden of Non-Communicable Diseases predicts if we continue the same way with non-communicable diseases spiralling out of control, by the year 2030 non-communicable disease could cost:

"a cumulative output loss of US$ 47 trillion over the next two decades. This loss represents 75% of global GDP in 2010 (US$ 63 trillion). It also represents enough money to eradicate two dollar-a-day poverty among the 2.5 billion people in that state for more than half a century".

Dr Margaret Chan, the Director-General of the World Health Organization concluded a speech in 2011 called "The Worldwide Rise of Chronic Diseases: A Slow Motion Catastrophe" by saying:

“But the warning remains stark. In the absence of urgent action, the rising financial burden of these diseases will reach levels that are beyond the capacity of even the wealthiest countries in the world to cope".

This non-communicable disease epidemic is so serious the United Nations General Assembly recently held a UN High-Level Meeting of global leaders resulting in a UN Political Declaration on the Prevention and Control of Non-communicable Diseases. This was only the second time in the UN General Assembly's history that they have met to discuss a health crisis, the first being HIV/AIDS.

We are facing an unsustainable economic burden that could result in the bankruptcy of our global healthcare systems and potentially, even the bankruptcy of our planet.

This is an impending global disaster and something needs to be done. Not tomorrow. Today.

Prevention is the key. Prevent the risk factors and you help prevent the disease. But the preventions must start in early life because interventions in adults may come too late.

What's All This Got To Do With Birth?

Scientists researching the human microbiome are starting to make startling discoveries. One of these discoveries is the connection being made between the way a baby is born and its future health.

Amongst other scientists from the UK, Canada and the United States, the film features an Ivy League professor, Professor Dietert, who has spent his whole career studying the developing immune system.

He explains that a baby has the best chance of a healthy immune system when it is born by natural vaginal birth, then has immediate skin-to-skin contact and is breastfed. In this way, the baby is properly seeded with the mother's own bacteria and the baby's immune system can reach full "completeness".

Consequently, that baby has significantly less risk of developing a non-communicable disease in its lifetime. That baby will be stronger and healthier.

(Photo above: baby boy two hours after a home birth. Photographer Nils Fretwurs. Dec 2003)

But medical interventions such as use of synthetic oxytocin, antibiotics, C-section and formula feeding interfere with or completely bypass the natural processes of childbirth.

As "MICROBIRTH" shows, the latest science is indicating that these interventions are affecting the development of a baby's immune system.

The result is the immune system may not develop to its full potential.  It is "incomplete", leaving the baby's defense system compromised, weak and open to attack.

If your immune system is not fully developed and is left "incomplete" because of the way you are born, you are at much higher risk of developing a serious non-communicable disease later in life. And not just one disease. If you develop one non-communicable disease, you are at much higher risk of developing multiple other diseases throughout your lifetime.

As Professor Dietert explains, with medical birth intervention rates skyrocketing, this could mean more babies are being born with incomplete immune systems. As they grow up, this could mean more of our children will develop non-communicable diseases in their lifetimes. 

(Still image of Professor Rodney R Dietert taken from "MICROBIRTH" Indiegogo pitch video. Copyright Alto Films Ltd.)

'We are essentially jeopardising the immune integrity across humans and we're wiring children for medical intervention from birth'. Rodney R Dietert, Professor of Immunotoxicology, Cornell University

It's not just the immune system that may be affected by interventions in childbirth. The film features other academics researching the potential long-term effects of synthethic oxytocin in childbirth. These scientists are making startling discoveries, discoveries that may have implications for the future health of our species.

(Still image of Sue Carter taken from "MICROBIRTH" Indiegogo pitch video. Copyright Alto Films Ltd.)

'I think we are in the midst of the largest experiment in human history. We are going to look back on this time period and say, "I can't believe we did that to your children"', Sue Carter, Biologist & Behavioural Neurobiologist

And in the emerging field of epigenetics, academics have formed the EPI-IC (Epigenetic Impact In Childbirth) international research group and are hypothesising that labour and birth might be a critical formative period for the human genome. If their hypothesis is right, use of interventions like synthetic oxytocin, antibiotics and C-section could affect the remodelling processes and subsequent health of the mother and child. And as the film asks, due to the potential transgenerational nature of epigenetic change, could any damage we may be doing now with interventions be inherited by generations still to come?

In the interest of balance, the film will also look to present emerging scientific evidence that counters or challenges these claims. The film will also be asking the top people from the leading Obstetric organisations what they think might be behind the rise of interventions. If there are any circumstances where some interventions might be medically unnecessary? If obstetricians are aware of the potential importance of seeding the baby's microbiome with the mother's own bacteria? And in their view, if they have any concerns regarding the long-term health implications for the increased medicalisation of childbirth?

What Is At Stake?

As well as scientists and academics, "MICROBIRTH"  will feature world-leading economic and Public Health experts (if we can raise enough money from this Indiegogo campaign) from the World Economic Forum, the United Nations and the World Health Organization.

These experts will paint a picture of what our society could look like if the 2030 prediction becomes a reality. In other words, the film will be asking, what is at stake?

Could we be facing the end of human society as we know it? Could we be facing a situation where we'll have millions dying from non-communicable disease? Millions more crippled by a lifetime of disease, unable to work? An unsustainable economic burden? A bankrupt planet?

And crucially, could the potential long-term damage we may be doing with interventions in childbirth be adding to the problem? Could the increased medicalisation of childbirth actually be accelerating us towards the predicted 2030 disaster?

In effect, are we creating our own downfall?
And what can be done right now to stop this from happening?

The film shows we are now at a choice point for humanity. What happens next will decide the future of our species.

But it's not all doom and gloom. There is hope. For as the film suggests, if you look at the latest science from a different perspective, it could be offering us a potential solution, or at the very least, a way to avert this impending global disaster.

As the film suggests, if we can convert to adopt evidence-based maternity practices that support physiological birth where possible, it might be possible to turn this around very quickly. We can help protect our children from a lifetime of disease. We can make a difference to the whole of mankind.

We believe we need to get this film made now to bring worldwide attention to this issue and to the potential solution that is within reach of us all.

Just To Be Clear....

(Photo above: filmmakers Toni Harman and Alex Wakeford at the birth of their daughter 2007)

As we stated earlier on this page, this film is NOT calling for an end of medical interventions in childbirth, as many times they are essential and they can be life-saving.

This film is not about natural birth vs. C-section. Or home birth vs. hospital birth. We believe in and fully support every mother's right to choose however and wherever she gives birth. We fully believe in the skill of medical professionals to save lives.

This film is not about breastfeeding vs. formula feeding. A mother should be supported however she decides to feed her baby.

If a mother chooses to have a physiological birth with interventions only when necessary, with immediate skin-to-skin contact and breastfeeding, we believe this should be accessible to all - not just in a home birth setting, but in all maternity units and hospitals worldwide. And if vaginal birth isn't possible, then immediate skin-to-skin and breastfeeding should be fully supported and encouraged to ensure the baby's microbiome is still seeded with the mother's bacteria. We appreciate that not all mothers will want this, but it should be available to all mothers who want it as a fully supported choice.

What Do We Want This Film To Achieve?

We hope this film achieves three things:

1. We want to raise awareness on a global level of the potential long-term health consequences of medical interventions - among birth health professionals (doctors, midwives, nurses etc), hospital managers, politicians, insurance companies, lawyers, academics and parents. We want to get everyone talking about the issues, to discuss what we can all do to safeguard the health of our children.

2. We hope these discussions are the catalyst for change to maternity policy worldwide. We hope governments and policy-makers are motivated to look again at the routine use of medical interventions in childbirth. We hope all health-care providers will consider the potential long-term risk of all medical interventions so that they do all they can to ensure the baby's microbiome is seeded with the mother's own bacteria.

3. We would love to see much more money going into academic research on the potential long-term consequences of interventions for future health. Up until now, most of the scientific research into childbirth has focused on short-term outcomes. The sooner we have answers to questions regarding the potential long-term health consequences of interventions, the sooner we can make a significant impact for all mankind. 

Just as the early global warming documentaries raised public awareness of the consequences of climate change, we intend this film to raise awareness of this issue for the future of humanity.

Why Do We Need Your Help?

To make this film, we need your help. We've spent all our own money so far and we have exhausted all our funds. The magnitude of this film is so enormous and the need to make it so urgent, that we can't do it on our own.

We are two ordinary filmmakers. What makes us extraordinary is YOU.

Yes, we need cash to complete filming and editing. We've traveled over 20,000 and filmed interviews and the research work of professors from two Ivy League universities plus professors from Europe, Canada and other American universities.

But now we need to complete the documentary by filming economists and experts from the World Economic Forum, the United Nations and the World Health Organization. And scientists from The Human Microbiome Project in New York. And the top people from the leading Obstetric organisations. And then we need to ensure the film is edited and completed to broadcast quality standard.

We also need your time, your skills and your passion to get this film seen worldwide to make the biggest possible impact.

We want this film to be seen in every country, in every community around the world. We want this film seen by politicians and policy-makers. We want this film to make global headlines. We want to create the conditions ripe for a tipping point to make global changes to maternity policies.

But for all this to happen, we need YOU.

We want to use the same model as we used with FREEDOM FOR BIRTH, only this time we want to go even bigger. We want to have thousands of PREMIERE screenings happening all around the world. We want to create a significant simultaneous global event that creates global headlines.

With YOU holding a screening.

It can be a screening you hold on your own, or as part of an organisation. The most important thing is that you're part of this. You're part of making change happen.

This premiere screening model worked for FREEDOM FOR BIRTH. It's now a successful tried and tested "formula" - we've also learned some lessons along the way to make it work even better!

How Much Money?

We are asking for $100,000 for this campaign which is an incredible amount of money - and covers the direct costs of completing filming, editing, getting the film released, and screened around the world for maximum impact.

We also aim to create "broadcast deliverables" so that the completed film is delivered in the correct formats to secure future international TV broadcast sales. Through the power of TV, many more people will then be able to watch the film and be aware of the issues.

Here's our budget for how the $100,000 would be spent on the direct costs of making this film.

$20,000 - flights, accommodation and travel (from UK to US and UK to Switzerland) to film interviews with key members of the World Economic Forum, the United Nations, the World Health Organization, the top people from the leading Obstetric organisations and other scientists working in this field.
$5,000 - for hire of camera, sound and lighting kit to complete filming
$20,000 - post-production costs to edit and complete the film including credits, grade, sound-dub and mastering; then we need the film to be translated into as many languages as possible.
$5,000 - for animation and specially designed graphic sequences to be created for inclusion in the film.
$15,000 - PR and marketing - engaging the services of a global PR marketing company to promote the film and global world screenings for maximum impact.
$2,000 - graphic design costs of creating graphics for marketing including the poster, logo, DVD cover design etc.
$3,000 - website costs - creation of a dedicated website (including making the film available to stream and download from the website) in multiple languages.
$5,000 - authoring DVD & duplication of PREMIERE screening DVDs in PAL and NTSC
$5,000 - shipping costs  for sending out PREMIERE screening DVDs
$5,000 - global campaign manager - to pay for someone to run the global campaigning side of things for six months, including creating and co-ordinating direct actions that people can do now and to help support all those holding a screening.
$15,000 - broadcast deliverables - for creating all the things you need to secure a broadcast sale, including the film available in different formats HD, digibeta, PAL & NTSC, 16x9 and 4x3, text and text-less versions etc.

If We Don't Reach The Target Amount?

If we don't reach the full target amount, be assured that we will still finish and release the film on time. We as filmmakers are 100% committed to getting this film made and released as we believe it is so vitally important.

If we are unable to reach the target amount, then yes we will try other avenues like applying for grants or film funds to make up the difference but we can't count on that funding. When we've tried applying for grants before, this type of project has often been seen as "too niche" or "not mainstream enough" to attract outside funding.

However much we raise, if it's below the target amount, we will still make and release the film. So the film will still happen, but we may have to make compromises but the message will still be there.

If we only raise $80,000 - we won't be able to produce broadcast deliverables. We would have to run another campaign to raise enough money to pay for all the formats to be produced in order for the film to be considered for broadcast.
If we only raise $60,000 - we won't produce broadcast deliverables and we won't be able to afford to hire the services of a PR agency and the global campaign manager. So we will have to do all the PR and marketing ourselves as well as manage the global campaign - we can do it, but we don't believe it will be anywhere near as good or as effective!
If we only raise $40,000 - we will do the remaining filming just in the UK and Europe.
If we only raise $20,000 - we will do all the remaining filming in the UK only and we will keep all other costs to a bare minimum.

If we make more than the $100,000 target, then we will spend the extra money on  additional marketing to make sure this film is seen by the key decision-makers in every community, in every country for maximum impact. We will also produce supplementary share-able free educational materials to further raise awareness.

So What's The Campaign Plan?

Step 1: We create a simultaneous global event of thousands of WORLD PREMIERE screenings of "MICROBIRTH" all around the world - provisional premiere launch date is Saturday 20th September 2014 (to be confirmed). This will make this a newsworthy event, just like we did with FREEDOM FOR BIRTH SCREENINGS - but this time, on an even bigger scale!

And then we start the buzzzzzz.....

We create a dedicated website (translated into multiple languages) with an "action directive". We will identify key politicians and policy-makers in each country for everyone to "SEND A MESSAGE NOW" with just one click of the button. We will also create a global petition with share tools. And we encourage all supporters to do something visual to spread awareness, for example, changing their profile picture on Facebook / Twitter / Google + etc.

Step 2: We email screening kits to everyone holding a WORLD PREMIERE screening - (this is everyone that has "bought" a PREMIERE perk option on the right-hand side of this page - prices start from $60.00 for a PREMIERE) The screening kit has everything you need to organize and promote your screening:

- Sample press release to send to local news organizations
- Printable adaptable poster
- “How To” PDF guide on how to organize and market your screening.
- Sample budgets and schedules to plan your screening
- Printable and share-able screening invitations.
- A list of direct actions for everyone to take now and after the screening.

Step 3: You organise a WORLD PREMIERE SCREENING in your local town / city / country ideally on the same day all around the world! (Provisional date Sat 20th Sept 2014  - to be confirmed)

Once you know the details of the screening, you promote it! You can hold a screening anywhere; a local cinema, cafe, community centre, school hall, hospital, hotel, church or even in your own home. It doesn't matter if there's another screening happening in your area on the same day. The more screenings, the better! And yes, you can sell tickets to cover your costs and also, you can even use it as a fundraiser for yourselves or a local cause.

You will receive the film well before the PREMIERE LAUNCH DATE (provisional date 20th Sept 2014 to be confirmed). This is on a trust basis - you mustn't show it to anyone before the world premiere date as this will destroy the potential power of a global simultaneous launch!!!!

Step 4: By letter, email, phone, Facebook, Twitter or other social media platforms, you invite people to be on a panel or to be a member of the audience at your WORLD PREMIERE event.

Your audience can be local politicians, policy-makers, medical and birth professionals, academics, students, parents, local organisations, friends, family, colleagues and even celebrities - you never know who might say yes! And you could also invite members of the media - local newspapers, radio, TV and bloggers.

Step 5: You hold an amazing well-attended energising WORLD PREMIERE screening, perhaps setting up a panel Q&A to engage the audience in a post-screening discussion.

-You ask for panel / audience suggestions on actions that people can take to help spread awareness. And you take photos that you later post to "flood" social media. And you ask everyone to post social media updates and to tell other people about the film and the issues!

Step 6: After the WORLD PREMIERE screening:

- You follow up with the media, politicians, policy-makers, organisations and activists to make sure awareness spreads thereby creating the ideal conditions for a change tipping point.

Soon after the WORLD PREMIERE screenings, we will make the film available to stream and download instantly at low-cost in as many different languages as possible.

You won't be on your own. Rest assured, you'll have full support from us and hopefully if we can raise the target amount, full support from the appointed global PR/marketing agency and the global campaign manager. Together we can do this.

Other Ways You Can Help?

We appreciate some people simply can’t contribute money, but that doesn’t mean you can’t help right now. The most important thing is that you start telling other people about this campaign:

  • Share this campaign using the Indiegogo share tools with friends, family, colleagues, people you "like" on Facebook, people you "follow" on Twitter, or people who are in your circles in Google+ or that you are connected with via LinkedIn.
  • Tell people in your local or national organization about this campaign and suggest they do a screening!
  • Get on the phone to your friends and family and tell them about it.
  • Find out more for yourself about non-communicable diseases and the threat they pose - the more you know, the more motivated you'll be to make a difference.
  • And you can always contact us with suggestions, thoughts or ideas - through our Facebook page, or on Twitter or drop us an email via the contact form on our ONE WORLD BIRTH website. We would love to hear from you!
  • And THANK YOU!!!! Thank you for getting to the bottom of this campaign page. Thank you for listening. Thank you for caring.

If you want to be a part of this, if you want to help us, please consider contributing now. To contribute, just click on one of the PERKS on the right hand side of this campaign page.

To secure a premiere screening, select one of the MICROBIRTH PREMIERE perk options (from just $60.00)

Thank you again. Together let's make this happen.

Let's safeguard the future health of our children and potentially, the whole of humanity.

Toni Harman & Alex Wakeford, Filmmakers

Find This Campaign On
raised by 1,012 people in 1 month
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$100,000 USD goal
Flexible Funding This campaign has ended and will receive all funds raised.
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This campaign ended on March 30, 2014
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    Estimated delivery: September 2014
  • $1,000USD

    Our sincere thanks, regular updates and.... The right to host the MOVIE PREMIERE of MICROBIRTH!!!! PREMIERE Screening DVD. Screening kit including posters, sample press releases and marketing guide. PREMIERE and Unlimited Public Screening / Educational license. And yes, you can sell tickets at the screenings! Plus prominent screen-time in the end credits for your name / organisation - so your name / organisation is seen on screen on a page of its own for at least 3 seconds!

    12 claimed
    Estimated delivery: September 2014
  • $5,000USD

    The right to host the MOVIE PREMIERE of MICROBIRTH!!!! PREMIERE Screening DVD & screening kit. PREMIERE and Unlimited Public Screening / Educational license. Plus prominent screen-time Credit. We'll come and make a short film about you or your organisation! You'll have to pay extra to cover our travel including flights and accommodation - we'll provide the equipment and post-production, but you'll have Toni & Alex making a bespoke short video just for you!

    2 claimed
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