The Detectives - Murder On The Street - BBC/Minnow Films/Will Morgan

The Detectives director talks to Man Met students about filmmaking and true crime

  • Louise Malkinson has made numerous institution-based documentaries throughout her career, ranging from the police and prisons, to the army and the NHS
  • For The Detectives, the film crew spent nearly a year working alongside murder investigators from Greater Manchester Police

Louise Malkinson, the producer/director of hit crime documentary The Detectivescame to Man Met to talk to criminology students about her work.

Throughout her career, Louise Malkinson has made numerous institution-based documentaries, ranging from the police and prisons, to the army and the NHS. For the talk, Louise explained her filmmaking process.

With The Detectives, the film crew spent nearly a year working with Greater Manchester Police’s major incident team. Before cameras started rolling, the crew spent three months researching alongside police.

Louise said: “Everything just happens instantaneously. People are send off to forensics, they do door to door, they do CCTV, work with family liaison officers. Unless you understand exactly what’s going on, you need to know it beforehand so you know where to send the cameras.”

While the series is filled with intriguing characters and immersive cinematography, it also handles the sensitive issues of drug addiction, family breakdown and homelessness. Operation Romford, an investigation into the brutal murder of Daniel Smith, forms the backbone of the series. Found in a homeless camp under Salford railway arches, the 23-year-old’s body had been badly beaten and then set alight.

Sensitive cases are always difficult, but with the help of the family liaison officers, Louise could put Smith’s family at ease.

“The family stuff is always the hardest because you want to talk to people at the most horrendous time of their life. The first bit of filming with Sarah and Beatrice [Daniel’s mother and grandmother respectively] was the antecedent, where you would talk about Daniel’s life, but I’d seen a lot of them before that. Just so they felt comfortable with us,” she said.

With many audience members wanting to get into the filmmaking industry themselves, Louise gave best her advice.

“Experience is everything, so if you can get some time with a production company on a shoot, carrying tripods, making some tea, whatever it might be, it’s invaluable.”