22 August 2018

A film which Loughborough staff and students helped to bring to the big screen has become a multiple international award winner.

The crime drama A Date With Shillelagh, set against the backdrop of the music business, has already won five awards and is being screened at no fewer than nine film festivals worldwide from Los Angeles, Palm Springs and Seattle in the US to Berlin, Germany, Aosta, Italy and Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Loughborough College engineering technician and award-winning writer Keith Large penned and produced the film, which features performing arts students and a lecturer from the College and stars Eleanor Burke, who appeared in the Oscar-nominated Kon Tiki, and Lauren Cornelius, who has had major roles in several BBC Radio 4 dramas. It was directed by Jeff Stewart – formerly Reg Hollis in The Bill.

Awards already lining up for A Date With Shellelagh include Best Producer for Keith as well as Best Actress for Eleanor from the CKF International Film Festival. Eleanor and Lauren received an honourable mention for Best Acting Duo at Los Angeles’ Independent Shorts Awards – which had entries from 41 different countries – and the film took the Best Social Justice Film title at Italy’s Oniros Film Awards. It was a triple at New Mexico’s Mindfield Film Festival when Eleanor once again won Best Actress with a Platinum Award, Patryk Czekalski scooped the Silver Award for editing and the film took the overall Platinum Award for Best Foreign Short title.

Filming took place mostly in Loughborough. “It’s set in the ‘seventies and there’s a great scene where the star is coming out of a venue stage door to get into her Rolls Royce with crowds of screaming fans eager to see her. The College’s performing arts students were part of the mob, waving album covers we’d had made up with Eleanor’s face on them. Our motor vehicle lecturer Darren Wallis even appeared as the bodyguard,” said Keith.

“The Shillelagh of the title refers to a weapon, which we actually had made up in rubber for the film. It is a tribute to my late Mum, who used to have the real thing behind the bar at a pub she ran, which could get a little lively at times.

Keith, who also produced past End of the Pier International Film Festival Best Horror Short Film Award winner The Raven, said “I am looking forward to saying thank you in person for the best producer award at the forthcoming CKF film festival. I was surprised to win – but the film was very much a team effort and I dedicate the award to all the students and staff at Loughborough College who came out on a cold February night, which I truly appreciated.

“I am always pleased to see cast and crew receive awards in any of our productions, as I know it is career advancing recognition for them. It was great to see Patryk get recognised for his editing on the film. In the time he’s been with us, he’s landed a range of television work, including a forthcoming Channel Four movie about Brexit starring Benedict Cumberbatch. Eleanor, who I’ve worked with on several occasions, was already an award-winning actress before she joined us on this film. She is somebody I totally believe in so it’s always special to see her win.

“Seeing the film receive so much success and attention helps attract support for our next film – already numerous people want to be part of it.

“Meanwhile, I will be working with some of the cast from ‘A Date With Shillelagh’ again as they will be appearing in a stage production of new writing in Shardlow, Derbyshire in October to help raise funds for the Shardlow Village Hall restoration fund.”

Keith’s play The Carrot Nappers, which received rave reviews and is set for a London transfer, will be performed at the event.

Watch the CKF winners showreel, with a clip from A Date With Shillelagh 4 mins 33 secs in here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IiKrFErxPkU

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