New film highlights child poverty in Leeds

Four years ago, Jason Lumsden put together the beginnings of a film script aimed at shining a light on Leeds' reliance on food books to feed the city's poorest children.

By Tony Gardner
Friday, 27th December 2019, 6:00 am

The project is about to reach our screens at a time when more emergency food parcels than ever are being handed out to people in crisis than ever before.

Jason, a former boxer-turned writer, is putting the finishing touches to his second film Kids At Rock Bottom in time for release in early Spring.

It promises to be a heart-warming tale about three kids struggling to survive in Leeds and trying to support their parents in the midst of poverty.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Jason Lumsden's latest film, Kidz At Rock Bottom, highlights the the issue of child pverty and the use of food banks in Leeds

The story is seen through the eyes of a radical school headteacher who has the notion of putting kids on work experience to grow their own food and educate them through his pupil referral unit.

The film is set entirely in Leeds with many familiar locations across the city providing the backdrop to the production.

Filming began as long ago as 2015 and the script and characters have evolved with the changing social and political landscape.

According to the latest figures by the Trussell Trust, the charity's food bank network provided 823,145 food parcels to people in crisis in the UK between April and March 2019 - a 23 per cent rise on the same period in 2018.

Katie Germaine and Ajay Megson play leading roles in new film Kidz At Rock Bottom.

Some 47,722 were given to people in the Yorkshire and Humber period.

Jason, 48, from Rodley, is a former director of ACHE - Action For Children Who Need Help in Education.

He says his frustration with the way local government departments tackle issues of child poverty and their attitudes the most vulnerable youngsters gave him the inspiration for the storyline.

He said: "I ran the business for ten years and have seen kids literally sleeping on the streets of Leeds.

Cast members on the set of Kidz At Rock Bottom.

"The system had let them down badly.

"Mainly for financial reasons, the kids who are at the bottom suffer the most. They get left out. They get left behind."

The amateur cast is made up of youngsters from Hunslet Club, Red Ladder Theatre Company, Burmantofts Boxing Club and Farsley Film Academy.

The film's head teacher, David Hartill, will be a familiar face to many Leeds United fans, whose day job is an official tour guide at the Elland Road club.

Film is expected to be released next year.

Former Grumbleweeds star Robin Colvill stars as the school gardener and handyman.

Leading roles are played by Katie Germane and Ajay Megson.

Jason said: "We are coming to the end of a very long project but I'm really pleased with how it has turned out.

"Katie Germane and Ajay Megson have been amazing to work with both in front and behind the camera.

"They have held the whole thing together brilliantly

"It's been nice to see the young actors develop over time and great to see so many people in the community get involved and make it work.

Lead actors Katie Germaine and Ajay Megson

"It's been a lot of hard work on a very tight budget but it's amazing what can be achieved when people are determined and dedicated to achieving a goal."

Jason's first film, Boy Called Bremner, was premiered at Vue Cinema earlier this year

The plot follows the life of 17-year-old Bremner in his desperate bid to impress his Leeds-United obsessed father by making a better life for his baby daughter.

The film is available on Amazon Prime.

Jason is currently in discussions with Amazon and Netfilx with a view to the release of Kidz At Rock Bottom in four half-hour episodes in March or April.

"It feels like Garforth FC trying to get into the FA Cup final sometimes.

"The Bremner film made it on to Amazon Prime and it has been viewed in countries all across the world.

"It's nice to see a little bit of Leeds being exported across the globe."