8 June 2020
Filmmaker Harry Downing’s movies could be coming to a cinema near you.
The Bradford College graduate’s script and film have won four awards at a US film festival.
The 23-year-old former Film BA Hons Degree student has won four awards at the Los Angeles Motion Picture Festival for two of his projects, a script entitled Stay Indoors and a short film Thinking Back.
And Harry has just discovered that Thinking Back has been accepted into the Dumbo Film Festival in New York.
He said: “It’s been a real labour of love.”
Setting his sights
Harry is currently working from his home in Worksop as a customer service adviser, but has his sights set on a filmmaking career.
His interest in film began when he was 14 and saw a documentary about the Battle of Midway, a naval battle in the Pacific during the Second World War. “I thought, wouldn’t this be amazing if this was a film?” Harry recalled.
Studying at the City of Film
He began to keep a list of ideas for films, adding to it over time. Having studied media and film at A level, his careers adviser said he should go to Bradford. The City of Film, Bradford is also the setting of films such as Billy Liar and The Selfish Giant.
Harry said: “Bradford College had a creative film course. I went for an interview there with Leanne Burnley, Head of School for Art. I stuck out like a sore thumb as I was wearing a smart suit and shoes and everybody else was in their casual clothes! But afterwards Leanne said: ‘I really hope I see you in September.’ It made me feel more welcome. The moment I got my A-level results I was over the moon to go to Bradford College.”
He began studying at the College’s School of Art in 2015. He said: “I enjoyed meeting people like myself, who were also filmmakers as interested in film as I was. I enjoyed learning about the different aspects of filmmaking.”
As part of the course he went to the Berlin Film Festival and on film making trips to Spain as well as Malham in North Yorkshire. This was where parts of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows were filmed. As well as working behind the scenes, Harry had the opportunity to produce and direct his own films. Harry said: “While it was work, it was good work.
“I miss being there and I would love to do it all over again.”
Having graduated in 2018, Harry returned to Worksop, where he continued to write scripts.
Love in the time of Coronavirus
The Covid-19 restrictions provided a surprising backdrop for Stay Indoors, one of the films for which Harry has won his recent awards. The story is about two people who have had a one-night stand and are forced to remain indoors together when lockdown restrictions are announced the morning after. After Harry submitted the script, written over two days, Los Angeles Motion Picture Festival representatives asked to see more of his work.
Weeks later they revealed he had won their Bronze Award for Best Screenwriting and the Red Platinum Award for Best Screenplay.
The other film Harry submitted, Thinking Back, is about a letter from a woman, which she gave to her former boyfriend before she died of cancer. The letter details their relationship from her point of view while also highlighting the other main character Edward’s memories of their time together.
The film won the Silver Award for Best Low Budget Film and the Platinum Red Award for Short Film Drama. Harry said: “It was such a pleasure to hear I had won.”
Continuing the romantic theme, Harry is currently working on a feature-length love story. He said: “This film is set around a bunch of lads who go to Zante and one of them falls for a girl from Ireland who’s there on a girl’s holiday. They decide to keep the romance going after they return home, but then reality kicks in.
“I’m inspired by stories and experiences from my own life as well as other films. Like Crazy, a 2011 film with Felicity Jones, is among them.
“Another recent inspiration is the BBC series Normal People. I loved the realism of the relationship between Connell and Marianne, the love they have for each other despite everything that happens.”
What’s next for Harry?
Harry has sent his projects to film festivals in cities including York, Leeds, London, Milan, as well as the Blue Danube Film Festival in Austria and Hungary.
“When lockdown is over, my intention is to make Stay Indoors into a film. I have a number of people who want to be involved and help with the making of it.”
You can find out more about Harry’s success and the winners from other categories on the Los Angeles Motion Picture Festival website.
Film and media courses at Bradford College
Bradford College offers a range of degrees for people who hope to go into the film industry. You can find out more about our film and media courses in the website.