EVERYONE has a story.
But for aspiring young director Lleyton Hails, bringing those stories to life through film is more than just a passion.
At just 18 years old, the Year 12 Scone Grammar School student is already making his dreams a reality.
Under the name ‘Lleyton’s Studios’, the talented filmmaker has made a number of locally shot short films and has been a regular entrant at Muswellbrook’s Blue Heeler Film Festival over the past three years, having picked up two people’s choice awards and ‘The Bluey’, or ‘Best Short Film’.
He was a finalist in the 2016 Dungog Film Festival and most recently, nominated for a 2018 Upper Hunter Australia Day Award for his talents and community involvement.
Now, months of hard work on his latest short film project ‘My Black Dog’ have finally come to fruition.
Inspired by local poet Jim MacCallum’s poem ‘My Black Dog’, the film will be shown to the public at a special twilight screening at Scone Rugby Club on Friday March 2.
Lleyton has described it as “a dream come true.”
“It’s been a crazy ride with all the production side – it’s been the biggest short film I’ve made and we had a lot of cast and crew,” he said.
Drawing inspiration from a Where there’s a Will mental health positive education night back when the charity first started, Lleyton came away wanting to make a difference.
“Unfortunately I couldn’t make it but I watched it on a Facebook live video and ever since then I thought what I can do in the community to prevent this mental illness,” he said.
Two days later, Lleyton’s parents told him about Jim MacCallum’s poem.
“I found it and I read it and immediately thought this is the perfect idea and opportunity to show people what mental illness looks like,” Lleyton said.
The storyline centres on depression - with the dog used as a metaphor.
“It’s that connection of what depression is, how it comes and goes and how you can overcome it.”
“The poem and movie connect with each other, which was our goal. We have been working closely with the poet especially with the screenwriting because turning a poem into a short film was a key element.
“We really wanted it to be true sense to the poem and that’s where my screenwriter Noah Folpp came in and we wrote scenes and did story boards.”
But it won’t just be a night of entertainment on the big screen – the day will also feature a colour run, opportunities to meet cast and crew and a discussion panel.
There will be a licensed bar, barbeque, and candy bar with all proceeds raised during the evening to be donated to the Where there’s a Will foundation.
“When I was talking to Where there’s A Will, I told them I wanted to show the film, raise community awareness and make it a fun night out for everyone to talk about mental health and what other training courses the charity offers,” Lleyton said.
“It’s been absolutely phenomenal for me and the experience of a lifetime especially filming with a dog – I had never filmed with animals before.
“ So, I’m very grateful for the MacCallum family and Jim for letting us have their dog and be there during the filming process and Where there’s A Will for making this event happen.”