A CHARITY’S hard-hitting film about homelessness has been shortlisted for an award.

Brighton Housing Trust (BHT) is in the running to scoop the prestigious Charity Film Award for its video, When I Grow Up, but it needs your help.

In the film, primary school pupils – all actors – are asked what they would like to be when they are older. They say things such as a cartographer and a nurse

But when nine-year-old Milly, played by Lola Berry, takes her turn, she says she wants to be homeless.

The video, made in partnership with Hove-based Big Egg Films, was one of 400 videos originally entered in the awards.

Some 65,000 people took part in the initial public vote and When I Grow Up has made it to the final few after the films were whittled down to a shortlist. A second stage of voting is now under way to find a winner.

Andy Winter, chief executive of BHT, said: “We are delighted that BHT’s film has made it to the shortlist, against some very tough competition. Big Egg Films have donated for a number of years our Christmas appeal video which is an incredibly generous gesture.

“The idea was pitched to us and we loved it.

“We were quite nervous because it is pushing the boundaries a bit and we didn’t know how people would react. Fortunately the reaction was fantastic.

“Big Egg Films really tried to understand our ethos and what’s important .

“The reason Lola was cast is that she was the only one who under acted in her audition - and she was deadpan and looked like she had already had the stuffing knocked out of her.

“The idea behind the film is that if you were to ask seven or eight-year -olds ‘what do you want to be when you grow up?’ no one will say ‘I want to be homeless’.

“People who are homeless were once those eight-year-olds with aspirations.

“No one sets out to live on the streets and choose that lifestyle.

“When you think about how society fails them and they end up homeless and rough sleepers when they have grown up – it should shock people.

“This is testament to the creativity and talents of Big Egg Films, who made it for us free of charge and to the amazing performance of Lola Berry in the role of Milly.

“My heartfelt thanks go to them and to everyone who has voted for us so far.”

Adam Sheldon from Big Egg Films said: “After hearing first-hand about the work BHT do every day on our streets in Brighton and Hove, we felt compelled to help them in any way we could.

“We are thrilled that the film has gone this far, and hope it continues to raise awareness for BHT, as well as vital funds.”

The film was originally created to help the Brighton-based charity raise funds for its day centre for rough sleepers in Brighton, First Base. The centre offers a range of services to support people who are sleeping rough or are insecurely housed in the city, including food, showers, clean and dry clothes and support to get off the streets.

BHT also provides support for rough sleepers, homes, specialist support services, legal advice and representation and other specialist services in Brighton and Hove, Hastings, and Eastbourne.

The second round of public voting in the film awards has now opened and this, combined with input from expert judges, will determine the winners. The judges include senior figures from media, business, entertainment and the charity sector.

You can watch and vote for BHT’s video by visiting www.charityfilmawards.com/videos/when-i-grow-up-2. The winners of the Charity Film Awards 2020 will be announced at a gala ceremony in central London in the spring.

A spokesman for the awards said: “This is the fourth year of the Charity Film Awards which has seen over 1,200 charities benefit from the increased viewership and engagement the awards campaign brings. The awards are split into categories by turnover to ensure the charities have a level playing field.

“They represent the incredible diversity of charitable activity through powerful and creative film-making which shatters the common misconceptions of what makes a good charity film.

Simon Burton, co-founder of the awards, said: “The level of public engagement in the awards is spectacular and it is completely free of charge to the charities involved. The awards give the truly creative films UK charities produce a context and shot of adrenaline, resulting in a huge uplift in viewership, conversation and donations.”