Luton director hits back at cyber trolls with award winning film

A Luton born film director will be seeing his first award-winning film on the big screen in the town this week.

By Lynn Hughes
Wednesday, 6th April 2022, 5:42 pm
Updated Thursday, 7th April 2022, 2:14 pm
Paul John Houghton
Paul John Houghton

From Under the Bridge: When Bullies Become Trolls, will be screened at the Bute Street Festival in Luton on Saturday April 9 at 12 noon.

Paul James Houghton, who went to Lealands High School, has been overwhelmed by the response his film has received since making its long-awaited debut in America.

The director, who moved to America in 1992 and now lives and works in California, grew up in Luton and wanted part of his school life included in the film, which is based on the true story of Megan Meier, who took her own life in 2006, three weeks before her 14th birthday after a severe cyberbullying attack.

The 47-year-old began to develop the short film when his other projects were stopped at the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

It has already won 'Best Short Film' at the Dances with Films festival in LA. Other awards include the Grand Jury Award for 'Best Short Film' at the Awareness Film Festival in Los Angeles, the Grand Jury Award for 'Best Short Film' at the London Lift-Off Film Festival which will screen in London this November as a result.

Paul has also won a best director award.

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Paul, who has flown in from America for the screening, said: “I am ecstatic the film has been selected by the Bute Street Film Festival team. I am from Luton, the costume design is based on my Luton high school, and the costume designer is also from Luton and now living in California (Lorraine Ely - who went to Lea Manor).

“Luc Clopton, who plays 'Kyle' in the film, has also won 'Best Actor'”, said Paul. “He's very talented and won a role in our new film, '1992', which is also based on a true story. We will film in and around Luton and we are beginning location scouting now with Ella Greenwood, co-production partner.

“We need a nightclub and warehouse if anyone wants to help! I can't say too much more at the moment, but tomorrow (Thursday) we run our first rehearsals in London at the Old Diorama Art Centre. We conducted all 10 days of the UK based auditions here and they have been incredibly supportive. Tomorrow will be the first time the cast has met.”

Paul plans to go onto direct more films. He added: "The response has been incredible. It is moving everyone who sees it and we are receiving awards, festival selections and outstanding feedback.

"Bullying and cyber bullying continue to rise, while seriously affecting, damaging and destroying lives.

"Bullying has become possible from anywhere in the world, with far more anonymity than ever, while the absence of accountability and responsibility soars.

"We have got the Awareness Film Festival in October, which attends to a range of global social issues, including mental health, youth and violence.

"That is a really important one for me, because that's what it's all about, raising awareness of mental health and the problems that come with bullying.

"It's important to remember that this film is based on a true story, Megan's story.

"Bullying and the impact it has on people, is a really important issue and I hope this film highlights that."