A short film showcasing the talent of young people from South Bristol has become a huge hit online, after being watched an astonishing two million times.
The film Shiney, which was filmed in Whitchurch and Hartcliffe in the summer of 2019, reached the milestone on the online film platform Omeleto. The mini movie tells the story of two kids and their efforts to buy a packet of cigarettes from a shop, to try to fit in with a bunch of older kids in the park.
It was made by South Bristol-based film company Shunk Films and was written and directed by Hartcliffe filmmaker Paul Holbrook. Despite the tiny budget, he managed to persuade Bruce Jones – aka Les Battersby from Coronation Street – and female boxing legend Jane Couch to take cameo roles in the film.
But the film’s stars were young actors Katie Francis and Caleb Stevens, who were aged just 11 and 12 years old when they answered a call from the filmmakers to attend an open casting session on Saturday in a school in the South Bristol estates where the film was made and set.
Film-maker Paul Holbrook said he’d been told to go to established stage schools to find the young leads in the movie, but he was determined to give young people in South Bristol itself the chance to shine. The film came out in 2020, and had a covid-delayed film festival season in 2021 in which Katie and Caleb went on to win prestigious awards for their acting talents playing a young wannabe rapper and her beat-boxing sidekick during one hot afternoon in Hartcliffe.
The film was then screened on the film-makers’ platform Omeleto, where it has now racked up two million views. “It’s brilliant to know we’ve been able to make a film on a small budget, set on a tiny estate in Bristol, with local kids in the lead roles that has been seen all over the world,” said Paul Holbrook.
“It helps to prove to young people, and the industry, what’s possible with a big chunk of good will, passion, drive and believing in unseen talent,” he added.
“Two million views for Shiney – that’s like more than the whole population of Latvia. All those people watching two amazing kids from Hartcliffe doing their thing,” he added.
Since the film was made, Paul Holbrook has gone on to make two more films in South Bristol – Hollow, a thriller which starred Hollyoaks actor Karl Collins, and Old Windows, which starred EastEnders legend Larry Lamb.
The film-maker is now in pre-production on other projects, including Ordinary Joe, a TV comedy about the legendary Bristol Zoo car park attendant, and a feature-length version of his 2018 horror film Hungry Joe, which was made in South Gloucestershire and South Bristol about a boy who couldn’t stop eating.