Theatre Director Helena Middleton steps up for her Film Directing debut with Kin

Kin tells a story of the relationship between two young brothers raised in the children’s care system, and the turning point they face when told their application for a kinship care arrangement has been denied.

Ahead of it’s screening at PFF, Director Helena Middleton tells us about her experience developing and shooting this powerful family drama,

“Based in part on personal experience, Kin highlights the chasm between growing up with a family and growing up institutionalised, framing this distinction through the intimate, powerful, and universally relatable bond between two brothers. It is a human story which shines a light on lesser seen lives.”

Helena is based in Bristol, and has a strong background in theatre directing – with involvement in projects across leading South West theatre venues including Bristol Old Vic, The Bike Shed and touring shows to Theatre Royal Plymouth. Kin is her first step into directing for film, and she explained how this was the most significant obstacle for her,

“My biggest challenge was the learning curve that came with doing the job for the first time. Everything was a first and I’m used to 100% knowing what I’m doing, so I had to learn to relax and know that if I surrounded myself with the right team, everything would be ok.”

Drawing from influences such as Andrea Arnold, Clio Barnard and Lynne Ramsey, who use cinematography to combine the gritty elements of social realism with a softer, dreamlike quality, Helena used the production to begin developing her own filmmaking style.

Picking a theme that is both relatable in it’s relationship between the siblings, but also inherently uncomfortable when dealing with the consequences of a care system suffering from limited resources and free-falling adoption rates is no small task. Tackled with sensitivity and vulnerability, Helena and the production team have created a thought-provoking short about the importance of family and sacrifice.

Image Credit: Tim Hall

“I would say our biggest success was the team that we pulled together – the film stars some brilliant actors, including BBC Casualty’s Sunetra Sarker and BBC Dickensian’s Joseph Quinn, and our whole team was just brilliant. I’m also particularly proud of the film’s score, composed by David Ridley and Aaron May. It’s fantastic and really elevates the film.”

Helena worked alongside Writer Samuel Bailey and Producer Tim O’Brien for Kin, and the team are hoping to continue working together on films in the near future. In the meantime Helena’s next film will focus on her Mum and the Drag King scene, which we hope we’ll be seeing at future PFF events!

To enjoy watching Kin at Plymouth Film Festival, book your ticket to the Family Affairs screening here.