A TEENAGER from Swindon has won professional training worth thousands of pounds after entering a national film competition.

Members of the public voted for Tom Hughes’s animated short film about mental health to be one of the runners up in the competition and awarded him £130 of kit and £4,000 of training

The 18-year-old said: “I was ecstatic when I heard, I had no idea the viewers would connect with the film in the way that they have.

“The video, called The Story of Happiness, is quite personal.

“The brief of the competition was ‘Change our Minds’, so, for this film, I thought about someone who was unhappy, a man who was doing the same thing every day of his life until one day he caught himself in the mirror, he looked at himself properly and decided to make changes.

“I chose the mental health theme because it’s such a widespread problem amongst young people.

“It’s an issue that’s increasingly common but we don’t talk about it enough.”

The film competition he entered was run by ScreenSpace, a BA (Hons) in Content, Media & Film Production run in partnership with the MetFilm School and the University of West London.

It attracted hundreds of entries, as films were shortlisted and then put out via social media for a public vote.

As part of Tom’s prize, he won £4,000 of vouchers to be used with MetFim School based at Ealing studios.

Tom added:“I’ve just finished studying two courses at Cirencester College and now I’m starting off as a freelance filmmaker.

“I’m currently working on a few projects including a music video for a friend.

“I decided to enter the competition because I wanted to let people see the film and to get professional feedback.

“The only way to connect with people is to share what you’re doing.

“Now I’m signing up for a professional course on cinematography because I want to improve my shots and learn how to get more motion into my work.

“In the long-term I want to work on large-scale productions and maybe direct.”

Dr Lisette Johnston, Head of School at ScreenSpace, said: “I think that mental health throughout the competition was a big subject, and not just for those thinking about going to university.

“It doesn’t surprise me that most of the films that got high votes touched on these topics as they resonate with a lot of young people today.”