Helen Barrett Bright Ideas: Jonathan’s film

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Jonathan, 38, from Cardiff is using the HBBI award to support his filmmaking dream

My name is Jonathan Phillips, I’m 38 years old and while I’m originally from Nelson in South Wales, I have been living in Cardiff for the last 10 years with my wife, Laura. I was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis a bit later than most, when I was 17. I suffered with a lot of ill health as a child. Many different illnesses and problems, until my lungs started to deteriorate in my teens. After a few cases of pneumonia, I was finally diagnosed with CF. Since then, I’ve been with the CF clinic at University Hospital Llandough.  

As well as my cystic fibrosis, I’ve also had two cases of lymphoma which has made my CF a lot more difficult to handle over the years. I’m now 10 years cancer free and finally in a pretty good place in my life. At the same time, the disease has had a major effect on my general health and who I am as a person. It has taught me to appreciate my life and those around me. I still go into hospital as an inpatient a couple of times a year and visit the CF unit on an almost weekly basis, working with a physio and a dietitian. The CF team at Llandough have been wonderful to me over the years and are a major part of why I’m still alive. 

Film gives me an opportunity for escapism Jony

One of the things that has really helped me deal with my ill health is my love of film. For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved nothing more than to lose myself in a story, to escape the pain around me and forget about the realities of my existence. 

Through this love I began to write. At first it was little more than a hobby, a form of therapy that kept me sane. Then a few years ago, I started to take it a bit more seriously, and in 2019 my short film, She’s Ok, was produced and broadcast on BBC Two Wales. The film has gone on to do very well on the festival circuit and I’ve been lucky enough to win a couple of awards for it.  

My bright idea 

This has given me a desire to want more, which leads to my Bright Idea. With the help of the wonderful guys over at Now in a Minute Productions, we’ll be producing another short film of mine, The Swan with the Broken Lungs, a story I wrote many years ago that’s loosely based on my own experiences with CF.  

It’s a story I have wanted to tell for quite a while now. So many people still have no idea what CF even is and there are very few films that cover the subject. If this film can have any impact whatsoever on helping to spread the awareness of this awful disease, then I’ll be a very happy man.  Jony's script

Luckily my CF team have always been incredibly supportive of my love of writing. And it was through our social worker, Vivian Edwards, that I learned about the Helen Barrett Bright Idea Awards. I’m hoping that through writing and producing my own short, then more doors will be opened for me in this business. Scriptwriting is very hard to get into, and the success of this project could be a major help in my progress.  

The money I’ve been awarded will go towards production costs, such as paying actors and crew, as well as marketing the film through festivals and a possible premiere. Making a film, even a short, can be a costly business and we will need to make every penny count to produce one we can all be proud of.  

I can now see a future for myself 

Being chosen as a winner of the fund was an incredible feeling and made me very proud of the work we put into our application. As a twist of fate, I was actually in the hospital when I received the call, and it was wonderful to be able to share it with the team there.  

My health has always stopped me from being able to really dream and think about enjoying a future. Scriptwriting has helped me see a light at the end of the tunnel, an opportunity to actually do something with my life, to finally be able to dream. Thanks to Sean James at Now in a Minute Productions and Cystic Fibrosis Trust, that light is starting to get a little brighter.  

Regardless of what happens with this project, I am so incredibly grateful to the Helen Barrett Awards for giving me a chance to do what I love. 

Cystic fibrosis (CF) is a genetic condition which causes sticky mucus to build up in the lungs and digestive system. It affects more than 10,800 people in the UK. One in 25 of us carries the faulty gene that causes it, usually without knowing. 

The Helen Barrett Bright Ideas Awards are available for anyone with CF over the age of 18 to help support your dream career or hobby. Whatever you need to make your lightbulb moment a reality, a Helen Barrett Bright Ideas Award can help you on your way.

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