East Anglian filmmakers crowdfund to create film about young refugees

Losing Us pilot still and awards

A still from the pilot of Losing Us, tale about 17-year-old Gezim and his 12-year-old sister Elira - Credit: Losing Us/Teele Photography

Filmmakers from Norfolk and Suffolk are hoping to bring an award-winning script about two illegal child refugees living in the UK to the big screen.

Crowdfunding efforts to raise £20k to start filming Losing Us around Reepham, Booton and Cawston have already attracted a £1k donation from Norfolk-based TV personality Stephen Fry.

“We have such a talented group of professionals of which many are from Norfolk and Suffolk,” said Losing Us producer Lesley van Dijk.

“Every person who believes in this project and every pound counts. We are also looking for someone who would like to become an executive producer for this project, either by bringing some financial contribution or simply the public influence with advocating for refugees, human trafficking victims and an open mind about complexities of immigration.”

So far filmmakers have raised just over £3k on reward-based platform Crowdfunder for the refugee story which charts the hardships endured by 17-year-old Gezim and his 12-year-old sister Elira after their mother goes missing.


You may also want to watch:


Production company Teele Photography — which shot an emotionally-charged pilot scene in June — has been working on the project with others including co-producer and casting director Anton Kamillus for 10 months and is hoping to film the rest in September with financial backing from local supporters and those further afield.

Director Teele Dunkley, who owns Teele Photography, came up with the idea of making a film from a young immigrant perspective two years ago and developed the idea further during lockdown.

Director and photographer Teele Dunkley

Losing Us director Teele Dunkley - Credit: Graham Dunkley

Most Read

“In developing my film story, I talked to professionals who work in social services and a lawyer. But the story really came to life when I connected with author Stephan Drury who wrote the script with guidance from me and producer Lesley van Dijk. Very soon after that Losing Us was born,” she explained.

Script writer and Open University lecturer Stephan Drury

Losing Us script writer Stephan Drury - Credit: Teele Photography

Mr Drury, a script writer and lecturer for the Open University, researched the subject and found that Albanians are the second highest nationality claiming asylum in the UK and wrote an award-winning script.

“It quickly became apparent that this was an important story to tell. Refugee stories are in the news, but no one really knows how the children feel or what happens to them. The script writing happened quickly after our brainstorming talks. I’m so delighted that the script has won awards but most of all I want to see this film made. Seeing the actors becoming the characters and bringing the story to live is an incredible experience as a writer,” he said.

Director of photography (DOP) Paul Cook, who lives in Bury St Edmunds, said: “One thing above all else has hooked me from the very beginning of the project is that it’s a film with an incredibly important and wide-reaching message being made in a local and relatable context. The hardship and anguish the characters suffer on their journey of seeking asylum will be a visceral experience to film, but one which must be represented truthfully in film.

“It will be an honour to bring Stephan’s award-winning script to life on screen and the most enjoyable part of the filmmaking process is always working with a like-minded and talented team.”

Photographer Lesley van Dijk

Losing Us producer Lesley van Dijk - Credit: Teele Dunkley

Ms van Dijk said: “We strongly believe we have a beautiful film in our hands. So far, we’ve had an amazing response to our auditions and high praise from the cast for the story. This makes everyone involved even more determined to make Losing Us.”

To see the pilot scene and support the film, click here 


Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter