Teacher turns filmmaker

Filming of 'Step Back' taking place at St Ignatius College in Turkey Street
Filming of ‘Step Back’ taking place at St Ignatius College in Turkey Street

Anti-knife crime film being shot at St Ignatius College, writes James Cracknell

A film about knife crime in the capital is being made by an Enfield schoolteacher – and features some of his own pupils as extras.

Backed by the Metropolitan Police, St Ignatius College teacher Leo Powell’s short film Step Back addresses gang culture and knife crime among young people and is set to be released early next year.

Leo’s drama/sci-fi, which is partially funded by the Home Office, follows the life of Marcus (played by Top Boy’s Xavien Russell), a 16-year-old boy who becomes entangled in gang culture. After attempting to steal trainers on his birthday, Marcus is confronted by a shop assistant where an altercation breaks out and Marcus stabs the assistant, fleeing and unknowingly leaving him to die.

Marcus is found guilty of murder and is sent to prison, where he himself is stabbed. In the back of an ambulance, dying, Marcus suddenly opens his eyes and realises that he is not dead, but has instead woken up in his bedroom one year earlier as a 15-year-old boy with a second chance at life.

The origins of Step Back derive from Leo’s work with young people, which began in 2010. Leo’s educational work on the so-called ‘county lines’ drugs trade has gained huge traction, and he has now been awarded funding through the Young Londoner’s Fund, set up by the Mayor of London. Leo hopes the film can be used as a resource to educate children about the life-altering consequences of using a knife.

Leo, currently head of year ten at St. Ignatius, said: “I’m hoping this film can be another avenue where seeds of hope can be sown into the hearts of young people.

“[I hope] that it will change the trajectory of their lives and give them a positive hope for the future.”

Detective Chief Superintendent Treena Fleming, commander of Haringey and Enfield boroughs for the Metropolitan Police, said: “This film will be a powerful reminder of the tragic consequences of carrying a knife – both for the victim and perpetrator.

“We want people to watch Step Back and understand that being involved in gangs and arming yourself with a knife quite literally ruins lives.”

Step Back, which will be released early next year, is being produced by Little Drops Production, the company responsible for producing Amani, a short film based on a true story of knife-crime which has amassed over 2.9 million views on YouTube.