Youngsters from Archway’s Elthorne Estate screen their own film starring Ashley Walters at Regent Street Cinema

Shawdon Smith, of Ambitious Academy, outside the community centre in Elthorne Estate. Picture: Lucas

Shawdon Smith, of Ambitious Academy, outside the community centre in Elthorne Estate. Picture: Lucas Cumiskey - Credit: Archant


Not many people can say they’ve made a film that premiered at the UK’s oldest cinema – but youngsters from an Archway estate can.

Don’t Get Drawn Out, created by kids on the Elthorne Estate as part of a mentoring programme, was unveiled at Regent Street Cinema on Thursday.

The short film features rising stars from the estate alongside established actors like Ashley Walters and Percelle Ascott.

Ambitious Academy, a mentoring programme, teamed up with Fully Focused and Arsenal in the Community a year ago and decided to make the project happen.

“At the beginning it was just based off an idea,” said Shawdon Smith, who mentors young people in the area for Ambitious Academy.

“We had seen stuff on television that glamorised crime and demonised our young people in a way where there was no solution. But here is these young people trying to do some good things.”

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Shawdon, 26, who grew up on the estate, added: “We are dealing with young people who don’t go to school or college and they don’t get these opportunities. We wanted to bring that back to our community and show the true lives of these young people.”

He said some kids, who didn’t want to be involved initially, are already messaging him and asking to be in the next project.

Fully Focused is a film production company in Blackstock Road that puts 100 per cent of its profits into training young people to make movies,

It provided 25 production session over a 10 month period and worked closely with the 15 young Elthorne actors to develop the script.

Shawdon said the film is full of harsh realities, which reflect every the day situations faced by youngsters on the estate. The plot came from workshopping sessions.

“In our film there is a young person who goes through a lot of trials but still wants to get out of the situation,” he said. “It shows there is a positive alternative to the negative stuff happening.

“In Islington there is a lot of history about Elthorne and it is mostly negative – we are breaking the cycle.”

The movie was uploaded to Youtube on Friday and has been viewed more than 250,000 times so far.

Shawdon added: “Our film worked wonders with our young people,” he said. “How about we do it in Camden or Haringey or Newham?”