Leeds Northern Film School students go global with award-winning short film

A film shot in Leeds by students studying at the Northern Film School has been making waves at international film festivals over the past year.

By Immy Share
Sunday, 11th July 2021, 4:45 am
Co-producer Oliver Duffy in Navigation Walk in Leeds where some of the filming for Shattered took place (photo: Steve Riding)
Co-producer Oliver Duffy in Navigation Walk in Leeds where some of the filming for Shattered took place (photo: Steve Riding)

Set in 1940s Netherlands, fictional period drama Shattered tells the story of an individual person and family during the Holocaust.

It aims to reiterate that in the sheer numbers of people who were killed during the Holocaust, each and every one of them was an individual, a person, part of a family and has a story.

The film was shot using only Leeds-based sets and locations just before the first lockdown hit in 2020, meaning post-production took place when the world went on pause.

The short film has won awards around the world (photo: Steve Riding)

It was then sent around the world, and won awards in festivals in New York, Paris, Istanbul and Leeds - including Best Historical Film, Production and Costume Design and Best Hair and Makeup.

Oliver Duffy, originally from Leicester, was the co-producer of Shattered and one of around 35 cast and crew members in total.

One of his roles was to help find Leeds locations to shoot in that could be pulled off as Netherlands in the 1940s.

He told the YEP: “We needed to not only create a 1940s period, but a 1940s period in England that isn’t actually based in England, but instead the Netherlands.

“We were just some students sitting in Leeds with a limited budget so we began scouting around and set ourselves quite a big radius but it ended up that the script had to be re-written slightly to find some more achievable Leeds locations.

“Then, it happened very quickly and it went from nothing and not knowing what to do to two weeks later having all our locations centrally in Leeds.

“We used some exterior locations, down the canal on the River Aire and then we found a very little pond near a residential area of flats which is really well hidden in a secluded area.

“It has a bridge and railings alongside it and it really does look like something you’d see in the Netherlands, and in the 1940s as well.

“From there it all started falling into place and we have been able to show off what you can do in Leeds - we literally turned Leeds city centre 2020/21 into 1940s Netherlands.”

The Shattered team shot the film from March 4 to 9, 2020 and in May last year sent it out to festivals across the world.

This is for it to be judged, selected and given appropriate awards.

The film has now just this month been released publicly online and on social media for others to enjoy.

Mr Duffy said: “We identified our festival circuit and targets, moved our way through the circuit and at the point when it had had a good run, we released it publicly for everyone to see.

“We didn’t do a grand release but it has gone well and has been more of a case of keeping our followers and contributors up to date with it.

“For me now it’s a case of seeing what the future holds for the film as some people who have reviewed it have mentioned that it has the potential to be put onto the silver screen and fleshed out into a feature and be a bit more of a feature length narrative.

“Maybe at some point it could also act as some inspiration for another film.”

Shattered was written by Brogan Waller-Parkinson, directed by Teresa Moorhead and co-produced by Nicholas Teslich.

According to Mr Duffy, Brogan has had an interest in studying the Holocaust for the past 10 years, and has seen all sorts of films and documentaries and read testimonials about it.

She was keen to make a story embedded into that dark chapter in history and highlight people’s experiences.

Mr Duffy said: “For me as a producer it was about finding the right balance of making the film as authentic as possible.

“The script went through many reiterations - especially with quite a brutal moment when a lot of people on cattle cars were being transported to Auschwitz and then you hear Nazi officers opening fire.

“It’s very difficult to try and steer those conversations through production meetings and hit the right tone of making it authentic and brutal - but not too much.”

Shattered is available to watch now via Vimeo by searching Shattered (2021) Short Period Drama and through the Shattered Productions Facebook page.