Watch Leeds filmmaker's short movie on city as a 'ghost town' in coronavirus lockdown

It looks like a trailer for a spooky sci-fi movie but Leeds filmmaker Jonny White's latest creation is far from fiction.

By Joanna Wardill
Tuesday, 19th May 2020, 5:00 pm
Updated Wednesday, 20th May 2020, 7:12 am

The 26-year-old has created a short film called 'Desolate Leeds: A City in Lockdown' to document the "ghost town" reality of life in Leeds during the current Covid-19 pandemic.

The sombre but poignant three-minute film pans across sites including a padlocked tennis court, a silent Leeds Train Station, a roped-off first direct arena, empty Headingley stadium and the eerily quiet city centre roads.

Jonny, who lives in Headingley, said the idea occurred to him during one of his daily walks with his housemate.

A still from Jonny White's film, 'Desolate Leeds: A City In Lockdown'

"I was thinking how vibrant Leeds usually is and thought it would be a fascinating concept to see that contrast between how Leeds usually is with how it is now - a ghost town, essentially.

"I wanted to show that contrast but also the message of the sacrifice society has made to socially distance from each other. To show that this is the lengths we have gone to, to fight this coronavirus.

"I think this film hopefully will be a great record, in 15-20 years' time, to look back and think 'it was crazy that that happened'.

"It's obviously not just Leeds, it's everywhere. That was the thinking behind it - I wanted to do something I think every single person, whether they're from Leeds or not, can relate to."

Filmmaker Jonny White, who has created a short film on locked down Leeds.

Jonny said he filmed the footage over the course of three days during his daily exercise allowance and said it took a further day to edit.

"I went out one morning, one afternoon and one evening to get a better overall sense of atmosphere of the different times of day. I obviously couldn't shoot for very long each day."

The project aims to collect reflections and stories from as many people as possible across the city - through formats such as videos, blogs, photos, artwork, poems and songs - and place them on public record for future generation.

A still from Jonny White's film, 'Desolate Leeds: A City In Lockdown'

Jonny said: "I think it's a great idea. One of the reasons I did the film was to document it as a record and I think the Covid Diaries is a great resource for that. It's a great educational tool - we are living history right now."

Jonny, who is originally from Guisborough, North Yorkshire, studied film and TV production at York St John University before moving to Leeds last year, where he works as a digital content officer for the Northern School of Contemporary Dance in Chapeltown.

In his spare time, he continues to make short films while he works toward his long-term goal of becoming a feature-length film director.

"The dream is to be a full-time filmmaker, telling stories - either documentaries or fiction. Every film I make at the moment is a short film, obviously for budgetary reasons. I can't afford to do a feature just yet but that's definitely the dream, for sure."

A still from Jonny White's film, 'Desolate Leeds: A City In Lockdown'

To view Jonny's film 'Desolate Leeds: A City in Lockdown", search on YouTube or click here.

Social media users can follow him on Twitter @jonnyvisuals or on Instagram @jxnnywhite.

For more information on the Covid Diaries project visit

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A still from Jonny White's film, 'Desolate Leeds: A City In Lockdown'

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