West Sussex mother and son win lockdown film awards

Coldwaltham mother and son actors Lena Richardson and Freddie Hill have won two top awards for their lockdown films.  Both were filmed by former Chichester Festival Youth Theatre members Freddie who also appeared in them.
Freddie HillFreddie Hill
Freddie Hill

The Greatest of Expectations, written by Steven Lancefield, sees a lonely cleaner meet a robot version of Charles Dickens in a desolate future where Christmas is barely celebrated. The 11-and-a-half-minute film won the Moscow Online Isolation Videos Festival.

A Final Goodbye (approx seven and a half mins), featuring Freddie and Lena and also written by Steven Lancefield, is the tale of a young man who decides to pay his stand-in auntie a visit for one last time. The film enjoyed success at the Mumbai International Cult Festival.

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“We were shortlisted and we had to do an ‘about me’ video because obviously we could not attend,” Lena said. “They had the event and I found out that I had won best actress in a comedy role. Freddie was up for best actor in a comedy role but didn’t actually win it. We were also up for best film and I was up for best lead actress. We also came third in the best film in lockdown.

“We had been contacted by a friend of mine who is also a writer, Steven Lancefield who is based in Saltdean. He said would we be interested in looking at a two-hander script that we might look at filming during lockdown, just to keep bubbling away and doing something creative… and so he sent us A Final Goodbye that he had written. He said he thought it would suit us very well. Freddie was required to film it was well as required to act in it which really isn’t very easy to do. In fact, it is incredibly difficult. You are stopping and starting to get all the different angles and you are also trying to stay in character. We set up ourselves up in one room and spent the whole day filming it. And Freddie then edited it. Editors are the unsung heroes. It took hours and hours and hours.

“Once we had done it, we sent it to the writer and he hadn’t really said that he would be sending it to festivals, but he did, and we were really pleased.”

Lena believes its success reflects the fact that it offered something slightly different: “And in a strange way it seems to tie in with what is going on now. I don’t want to give too much away, but it is about somebody who feels they didn’t have the chance to say goodbye and goes to an agency and picks someone who looks the most like the person that they have lost and acts out a scenario. In a strange way, it feels like it has made quite a connection with what we are going through now. So I think it was probably quite different to a lot of the other things people had been sending in. Potentially, it was not an obvious thing and was slightly unusual. We were surprised. We didn’t find it comedic at all, but they obviously saw something in it. There are perhaps a couple of moments where you chuckle to yourself.”

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As for mother and son acting together: “I think it is easier in a way because you feel a little bit more comfortable with someone that you know very well. When Freddie was getting frustrated trying to make sure that the shots were right, I could see that and maybe squash it a little bit.

“But I would say that when you are acting with someone you know really well, you really do have to be on your mettle. You really do have to be on your A game.”

They filmed A Final Goodbye during the summer; they filmed The Greatest of Expectations in November.

“In the first film I was obviously playing a caricature of a character that is obviously not me. I didn’t feel self-conscious. I thought I would be. I think Freddie may have felt it a bit more than I did. But we have done a few self-tapes together as mother and son.”