A young filmmaker from County Durham has secured a prestigious mentorship with a BAFTA and Oscar-winning special effects artist.
Paul Lycett, aged 19, a graduate of the award-winning Beacon Hill Arts’ BFI Film Academy in Newcastle, will be mentored by John Richardson, who has nine James Bond films (including Octopussy and Moonraker) and the full quota of eight Harry Potter films on his 50-year-long CV alongside his work on Aliens, which was what won him the aforementioned BAFTA and Academy awards.
Paul was selected for this prestigious scheme run by BAFTA (the British Academy of Film and Television Arts) after he graduated from the Beacon Hill Art Academy, which supports young people with learning disabilities to develop a range of creative and transferable film-making skills by producing and promoting their own films.
Because of his interest in special effects, Paul was matched with John, who he will meet later this year in London to talk about his career during a tour of the Warner Bros Studios in Leavesden.
Paul said: “Thanks to being part of Beacon Hill Arts’ BFI Film Academy, I have been given this BAFTA mentorship, and have the chance to meet one of the top special effects people in the film industry. I am very excited to be able to discuss my work and plans with John for guidance and inspiration for the future.
“I didn’t realise I was autistic until I was told. I am trying to use that to my advantage for my filmmaking skills. My
autism is not a curse, it is a tool just like the equipment. I want to put what’s in my head on film.”
John added: “It is a great opportunity to meet Paul and help him with his ambition to become a filmmaker. The BFI and BAFTA initiative is a wonderful idea to help and assist young people who want to learn how films are planned and conceived and to study in more depth the Art of Special Effects and movie making. I am very excited to be able to ‘give something back’.”
Although part of a national scheme to support 16-19 year olds discover and develop their filmmaking talents, the Beacon Hill Arts BFI Film Academy is the only one in the UK that specialises in supporting young filmmakers who have a learning disability or autism.
Their films reach a global audience and have won numerous awards. Meanwhile films made by previous Beacon Hill Arts graduates have been shown at more than 35 film festivals across three continents and been praised from figures across the film industry including film critic Mark Kermode.
Michelle Fox, of Beacon Hill Arts, said: “We are thrilled Paul has was chosen for this amazing opportunity. He was such a fantastic student. Working with BAFTA and the BFI to support Paul’s talent is a real privilege.
“Our next BFI Film Academy starts in November and we’re recruiting at the moment, so if any young people are inspired
by Paul’s story and would like to apply, they should get in touch soon.”
Any young filmmakers aged 16-19, who have learning disabilities or autism and are interested in applying for the next film academy intake need to apply by Tuesday, November 4. Young people who want to find out more should call Michelle on 0191 580 7000 or sign up at www.beaconhillarts.org.uk/filmacademy