15 January 2017
This year’s Pitch film competition winner, 24 year old Harry Lighton from Portsmouth, is our youngest finalist ever.
First time entering the competition, the Oxford University English Literature graduate made such an impression on the judges with his short supernatural social drama film ‘Leash’ (working title), he was unanimously chosen.
Inspired by a series of hates crimes against Poles in the wake of the EU referendum, part-time English teacher and film maker Harry bases his film idea on a story about a Polish teenager and her single-mother who are subject to xenophobic abuse.
'Leash', originally pitched as ‘Go Home’ retells the story of Elisha in the biblical book of Kings where he arrives in Bethel and is taunted by a group of youths insulting him with the words ‘Go up you baldhead’. Baldness, considered a blemish against Israelites, gives the insult a racist bent.
Staying true to the biblical passage the film focuses on the value of inclusiveness. Elisha becomes Alicja and Bethel is swapped for an English seaside location, and the taunt to ‘go up’ becomes a taunt to ‘go home’. The core theme of a stranger facing prejudice due to his perceived foreignness resonates in Britain today.
Speaking about how he feels about winning Harry says: “It’s incredible! I’ve worked so hard for this. It’s a muddling feeling which I can’t quite register at the moment. I’m thinking about what’s ahead of me but I do feel very happy.
Luke Walton Pitch director said, “Harry took an obscure story about Elisha and contemporised it by linking it to post EU Britain. He took plenty of notes then overnight he came back to the boardroom with references, designs and further thoughts. He has written four stories within this competition and has really moved the story on. He understands film language and has responded brilliantly along the way. Harry was unanimously chosen by the judges this year.”
Harry has won a cash production budget of £27.5K with production support on top to deliver 'Leash'. He will also go to Hollywood and meet a host of industry professionals who will give him feedback on his completed film.
Runners up Henry Steedman and Nour Wazzi were strong contenders in a very competitive field will also get help to secure start-up funding or training.