Anti-bullying film benefits from the Hollywood touch

Sam Johnson

Sam Johnson

First published in News Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter covering Witney and West Oxfordshire. Call me on 01865 425483

WHEN Sam Johnson wanted to make a film about bullying he didn’t have far to turn for expert advice.

The 26-year-old’s uncle is Simon West, who directed Hollywood blockbusters Con Air, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and The Expendables 2.

And Mr West, 53, from Burford, also got Dr Who and Star Trek Into Darkness star and Kidulthood writer Noel Clarke to give Mr Johnson some tips.

Now it is hoped the 15-minute film Billy The Kid will be shown in UK schools during November’s Anti-Bullying Week.

It tells the story of 15-year-old Billy, played by John Bell, who starred as Bain in 2013’s The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.

Oxford Mail:

A still from his film Billy the Kid with actors Jake Wheeldon and John Bell

The youngster lives his life like a cowboy and is bullied at his new school but saves the day and wins his fellow pupils’ respect when escaped convicts seize classes.

Mr Johnson, who went to Abingdon School, said: “We’ve got some quite big action scenes so it was good to have my uncle on the set as a point of reference. For young filmmakers it was really special to have someone of his calibre there.

“It sounds corny but I want to make films that can help make a difference, however small, and I knew I wanted to do something with an anti-bullying theme.

“Like most people I had a few issues with bullying as a kid – nothing serious but it’s something that remained prevalent in my mind.

“I remember being at school and all the anti-bullying films I saw were so dry, and there was very little dialogue about the issue.”

Oxford Mail:

A dramatic scene from the film

Pre-demolition Didcot Power Station was used for the jail scene while filming also took place at Burford School and Abingdon School from July 30 to August 3.

Pupils from St Helen’s & St Katharine’s School, Abingdon and Cokethorpe School, Ducklington, near Witney, also starred.

Mr Johnson’s parents Nigel and Louise even put up about 50 cast and crew at their Clanfield home in tents, barns and sheds as well as providing props and catering.

The £10,000 film was funded by the British Film Institute, Creative England and Burford Garden Company, owned by Mr and Mrs Johnson.

An online appeal will split cash between charity BeatBullying and the production and has so far raised more than £3,800.

Oxford Mail:

Director Simon West

Mr Johnson, who produced an online short for Adidas, hopes to make Billy the Kid into a full-length feature.

Former Burford School pupil Mr West, who helmed 1997’s Con Air with Nicolas Cage, said: “The theme of bullying in Sam’s film is so relevant in schools today that I think it’s vital this film gets shown in schools around the country, maybe even internationally.

“It’s a great short film and from what I saw I definitely think Sam is on his way to Hollywood.”

  • Support the campaign at indiegogo.com/projects/ billy-the-kid

 

  • Do you want alerts delivered straight to your phone via our WhatsApp service? Text NEWS or SPORT or NEWS AND SPORT, depending on which services you want, and your full name to 07767 417704. Save our number into your phone's contacts as Oxford Mail WhatsApp and ensure you have WhatsApp installed.

Send your Letter to the Editor

11:20am Monday 28th July 2014

What do you think? We welcome letters from our readers on a wide variety of subjects and you can send us a letter through the blue headline above.


Our top stories

UPDATE: Man arrested after woman raped in Headington flat

Oxford Mail: Thames Valley Police logo

3:24pm Saturday 20th September 2014

A MAN has been arrested after a woman was followed into a Headington flat and raped yesterday.

Get Oxford Mail news alerts sent direct to your phone via Whatsapp

Oxford Mail: Whats App logo

11:50am Tuesday 3rd June 2014

OXFORD Mail readers can now sign up to get major breaking news alerts sent direct to their mobile phones with a new service using Whatsapp.

Update: Man arrested after teenager raped in city centre

Oxford Mail:

11:57am Saturday 20th September 2014

A MAN was arrested today after a teenager was raped in central Oxford.

Referendum vote gives PM a spring in his step

Oxford Mail:

9:30am Saturday 20th September 2014

WITNEY MP David Cameron has congratulated the people of Burford for organising a mock “referendum” on the issue of Scottish independence – but has admitted he was more relieved to find out the result of the actual poll.

Oxford United Wright issues warning

Oxford Mail:

9:30am Saturday 20th September 2014

Jake Wright believes it will be key for Oxford United to avoid getting dragged into a physical contest if they are to build on a midweek win when Stevenage visit today.

It's off - three-day city festival is cancelled

Oxford Mail:

9:00am Saturday 20th September 2014

A THREE-day festival set to take place on Oxford’s South Park next weekend has been cancelled due to poor ticket sales and rumours that one of its big name stars had pulled out.

Comments

Comments are closed on this article.

Send us your news, pictures and videos

Most read stories

Local Info

Enter your postcode, town or place name

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree