How working with children and animals paid off for these Sheffield film-makers

Hugh Mann Adamson (left) directing the Let There Be Light team.
Hugh Mann Adamson (left) directing the Let There Be Light team.
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Never work with children and animals, film-makers in Hollywood are warned.

But in Sheffield, ignoring the age-old advice worked out brilliantly for an emerging new talent in the commercial film and animation industry.

Filming with a child novice actor for a Humberside Fire and Rescue Service awareness campaign video.

Filming with a child novice actor for a Humberside Fire and Rescue Service awareness campaign video.

Let There Be Light Productions (LTBL) has boosted its output four-fold since moving into the heart of the Cultural Industries Quarter - and company bosses say two of it’s most successful projects turned four canines and one nine-year-old boy into stars of the screen.

LTBL director Hugh Mann Adamson said: “We made a video for Sheffield-based Support Dogs, a charity which trains dogs to transform the lives of people living with disabilities, epilepsy and autism.

“Our film highlighted all the amazing things the dogs are taught to do - everything from loading the washing machine to helping their owner to get dressed. It took two days to produce a four-minute film which they took to Crufts.

“We worked with four dogs and they were absolute stars. They were not at all temperamental stars, but they did need to take regular screen breaks. After an hour they needed a rest.”

Filming with Sheffield's Support Dogs charity.

Filming with Sheffield's Support Dogs charity.

A few months later, Hugh and his six-strong team found themselves producing an awareness campaign for Humberside Fire and Rescue Service’s juvenile fire prevention scheme.

“It was our first commercial production using a child - with no acting experience whatsoever. I was apprehensive, especially as the film was to have no dialogue.

“Conveying the narrative meant asking a boy of nine to visually express a range of emotions - from sadness and happiness. He had to cry on screen and he was brilliant. It’s about to go out across schools and children’s homes across Humberside and Lincolnshire.”

Taking on the most challenging projects doesn’t daunt Hugh, aged 30.

He said: “Don’t do it; I have heard that phrase so often in my life. It started when my dad told me I shouldn’t drop out of my computing degree to become a film-maker. As part of my studies I had made a ten-second film - and those ten seconds were enough to make me realise I was on the wrong road.”

“I didn’t listen - and I’ve been ignoring countless other people since.”

He quit university and found his way into the industry by winning two awards in Bradford UNESCO City Of Film’s 48 hour film-making challenge.

But Hugh attributes much of the company’s success to the positive vibe in Sheffield’s Creative Quarter.

He set up office on Arundel Street after running the company in his native town Scunthorpe for four years and other work this year has included a video training guide for The National Beer Academy and a promotional film shot in the Peak District for the Move More Campaign, aiming to make Sheffielders more active.

Said Hugh: “I aimed for Sheffield because it has a national reputation for producing the best British fictional films. Warp Films, makers of Four Lions and This Is England, are based in the Electric Works.

“The South Yorkshire Film-makers’ Network has a very strong reputation and is great for networking. There’s stacks of support from Creative Sheffield. There’s a very strong collection of creative companies based here now. It is a feather in the city’s cap.”