THE FITTING ROOM film project was created by Pegleg Productions in collaboration with the Fitting Room Friends, a group of women amputees from the Prosthetics Rehabilitation Centre (PRU) at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital, Stanmore.
Funded by a Big Lottery Awards For All grant and directed by Nicola Lane, a member of the Fitting Room Friends, the film sees women amputees share their personal experience of prosthetics and was supported by the Centre’s staff and clinicians.
In February 2013 THE FITTING ROOM film project was shortlisted for the Big Lottery 'Communities in Focus' photo competition. The two selected images pictured below represented important aspects of the lives of amputee women explored by Fitting Room Friends during the making of the film.
Here sound recordist Xan Marquez prepares Michelle for her scene saying farewell to the clothes she can no longer wear after her amputation:
In the image below Sandra steps out - "with friends and family always at my side."
THE FITTING ROOM project began filming at the RNOH in May 2012, with Nicola Lane working with OTSO Film cinematographer Joni Juutilainen and Assistant Director Marga Doek. Here is a selection of images documenting THE FITTING ROOM journey:
In the image above, the crew set up in the old orchard on the RNOH site, for 'the girl in the tree' scene: memories of bare legs in the summer, the complex reality of replacing lost limbs.
Joni Juutilainen and Xan Marquez setting up in the Prosthetic Rehabilitation Unit fitting room:
The Fitting Room Friends relax between takes in the fitting room:
Stylishly testing a new prosthesis...
Swimming is an important issue for the Fitting Room Friends and all agreed it had to be represented in our film. It was great to use the location of the Aspire Centre's beautiful and accessible swimming pool for our shoot. https://www.aspireleisurecentre.org.uk/
On July 3rd 2013 the preview of THE FITTING ROOM was screened at the RNOH Herbert Seddon Teaching Centre on the hospital site. The Fitting Room Friends (pictured below) welcomed family, friends, staff and clinicians from the PRU and the RNOH, health professionals from other London hospitals and rehabilitation units, colleagues from Disability Arts organisations, leading charities and many more.
To accompany THE FITTING ROOM screening Fitting Room Friends Jane MacLaren and Sandra Staffiero wrote the following piece:
“... The Fitting Room is not a hospital clinic: it is a highly exclusive club. A club that one would not choose to join but if due to unforeseen circumstances you do become a member you are one for life.
“Fitting Room Friends’ began as a closed, invitation-only Facebook group because we needed a way to keep in contact with the women that we meet in the Ladies Fitting Room. We have a collective bond, an inner understanding where words are not necessary. Through the project we can share experiences, genuine understanding and give collective support.
“The group is steadily growing and through making this film we have been able to express how amputation has changed all parts of our lives. Amputation is not something that we will ever ‘get over’; it is - as many have said - the start of a second, but different life.
“As amputees we all have challenges that non-amputees will never truly be able to comprehend. But the fitting room is not full of doom and gloom, it is full of women who against all odds will fight the challenges before them and in unity inspire each other. The fitting room is full of strength, laughter and hope...”
Nicola Lane writes:
"Here we get ready for the Q&A after the screening...'Show, don't tell' is an important principle of filmmaking. I think our faces after the film finished tells all. The audience laughed, listened, gasped, and applauded long and loud. We had succeeded in communicating something of our personal experience of prosthetics."
A member of the audience from another Prosthetics Rehabilitation Centre wrote:
"Having spent many hours in fitting rooms over the last 26 years I felt a deep connection to the ladies in the film...The role of your prosthetist was touched on, not just as someone who makes your limbs but as an ongoing relationship, getting a good fitting socket is paramount to how you will be able to live your life and how you are able to live your life impacts not just on you but the people around you.
"I felt this particularly with the lady who felt she had to keep her leg on even when she was exhausted as her family preferred to see her as ‘normal’. It is sometimes easy to overlook the impact that an amputation has on close family and friends, that they too have to come to terms with the huge changes amputation can bring, not only body image but what is physically achievable... "
On June 5th 2014 the premiere public screening of THE FITTING ROOM film took place in the Henry Wellcome Auditorium at the Wellcome Collection:
This well attended event included RNOH Rehabilitation Consultant Dr. Imad Sedki in conversation with director Nicola Lane, followed by a lively and informative Q&A. The event was made possible through generous support from the Liebreich Foundation and the Douglas Bader Foundation. https://www.douglasbaderfoundation.com/
On October 15th 2014 the British Society of Rehabilitation Medicine (BSRM) screened THE FITTING ROOM film at their annual meeting in Bristol. Jane MacLaren shared the film's insights with an audience of rehabilitation doctors from all over the UK. To read about the BSRM, click on the link below:
Check out Nicola Lane's piece for the BMJ:
See page 7 of 'Empower Magazine' for an article about screening THE FITTING ROOM at Proactive Prosthetics:
A big thank you to all National Lottery players for making THE FITTING ROOM project possible!
In 2015 THE FITTING ROOM project was nominated for the National Lottery Awards 2015:
"Thank you for the wonderful work your project does to change lives and improve communities, from everyone at the National Lottery."
During the collaborative process of creating THE FITTING ROOM film, a core group became actively engaged in development, screenings, and establishing networks. FRF founder Jane MacLaren, together with participant Sandra Staffiero, established links with a wide range of amputee groups, including organising regular 'Big Meet Up' events.
They went on to establish OPUS, a voluntary user group working alongside the RNOH Trust to provide an effective forum for all RNOH Orthotic and Prosthetic Department users, families and carers.
OPUS aims to establish a network of peer support and a positive working relationship between users, centre clinicians and the Trust, providing opportunities for feedback, voicing concerns and sharing ideas.
Images Courtesy of OPUS
NORTHWICK PARK HOSPITAL, February 27th 2020
In February 2020 THE FITTING ROOM was screened to a fabulous audience of physiotherapists, Consultants and Vascular Teams in the Physiotherapy department at Northwick Park Hospital.
There was great feedback from the audience, and Senior Physiotherapist Jill Stokes, who had requested the screening, commented:
"... being a Physio to 2 of the ladies made me reflect again on my practice, and indeed I am a better therapist for understanding a little more of the inner thoughts of the amputee. It is so easy for us to assess, treat and discharge and move on to the next; I now am much more using the words 'adapt and change' rather than 'getting better and back to normal'...
This photograph of the receptive and enthusiastic audience is very poignant, because soon afterwards COVID-19 and Lockdown put the Hospital and its teams under intense pressure.
We had made plans to screen THE FITTING ROOM at a conference in November 2020, but we are now, in Jill Stokes' words, having to 'adapt and change'. Perhaps a Webinar?
Watch this space.
Nicola Lane / August 2020
For more information about THE FITTING ROOM see: