Northampton student Leo wows judges with ‘seriously impressive’ award-winning film

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Teenager's scoops national prize for tear-jerker about pet dog going missing

Aspiring filmmaker Leo Kelly has won a national award for a festive film labelled “seriously impressive” by judges.

The 17-year-old Northampton College student, was named the winner of the Best Cinematography category of Media Magazine’s ‘Making Lockdown Creative’ Production Competition for his emotional Christmas tearjerker ‘Lost Without You’.

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His poignant video, heavily inspired by previous John Lewis adverts, tells the tale of his family dog going missing, with a long and anguished search proving fruitless until the mischievous pooch, Poppy, emerges at the front door just in time for Christmas, to the delight of Leo’s little brother, Ben, aged 11.

Award-winning film-maker Leo Kelly with his 'star' PoppyAward-winning film-maker Leo Kelly with his 'star' Poppy
Award-winning film-maker Leo Kelly with his 'star' Poppy

Seasoned industry experts hailed the piece as a ‘masterpiece’ while one senior judge said it was a “really compelling and emotional story that had me hooked”.

Leo's video was shot across eight locations around Northamptonshire, including Althorp, Hardingstone and Gayton and took six days to film over three weekends.

Poppy, an eight-year-old Bichon Frise and cavalier King Charles spaniel crossbreed, plays a starring role in the film.

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Leo said: “She was amazing. Considering she’s totally untrained we were able to get her to play the part brilliantly.

Singer Freya Ridings' track Lost Without You' provided the soundtrackSinger Freya Ridings' track Lost Without You' provided the soundtrack
Singer Freya Ridings' track Lost Without You' provided the soundtrack

"My family helped a lot and we made sure we had plenty of treats to hand to get her to focus.”

As with all John Lewis adverts, the soundtrack to Leo’s piece was all-important and he was able to call on a family friend for further inspiration.

Chart-topping performer Freya Ridings once sung at a relation’s wedding and her standout song ‘Lost Without You’ proved the perfect accompaniment to the heart-wrenching film.

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The video attracted thousands of views on Leo’s YouTube channel and the college even used it as part of its official digital Christmas greeting.

Leo said: “Coming to Northampton College has opened my eyes to the variety of job roles that exist in the film industry. Previously, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do but having heard from people with years of experience in their field, I now have a clear pathway in mind.

“Having teachers with that relevant experience is a massive help, they really know their stuff and we also have access to the very latest equipment which is a big help when it comes to filming content for our course.

“I’d recommend Northampton College to anyone. It’s been a great experience for me and I know that I’m ready to make my way into the industry as soon as I complete my course.”