A new Birmingham film is looking to break barriers in the film industry by hiring a lead actor with Down Syndrome. Dusty Do Good tells the story of a young boy with the condition who – inspired by an old cowboy TV show – escapes his troubled home life and roams his inner-city estate as a righteous lawman.
The short film – filmed entirely in Birmingham over a three-year period – is the labour of love of city filmmaker Jack Hughes, who borrowed £1,500 from a friend to complete the film. Director Hughes said he wanted to help provide a ‘platform’ for disabled groups and showcase his ‘love for his hometown.’
The protagonist Dusty is played by Godwin Hodges, starring in his first film role. In the movie, Dusty’s character lays down the law on his inner-city estate, but things take a dark turn when he runs into a local gang.
Explaining his decision to hire an actor with Down Syndrome, director Jack Hughes said ‘different life experiences can shape the best stories and inspire the best performances.’ He said: “The idea for Dusty Do Good came to me for a number of reasons; my lifelong love of Westerns, attempting to provide a platform for a severely underrepresented group of people and my love of my hometown, Birmingham.
“I grew up alongside a close family friend, Lauren, who has Down Syndrome. Throughout my childhood I didn’t question any differences between us – my relationship with Lauren felt no different to that of anyone else.
“Her love of story and the pure joy she found in these fictional worlds inspired me when writing Dusty Do Good. I wanted to write about the uniquely human act of seeking comfort within narrative – specifically in the lives of those entrenched in adversity every day, where escapism is their only reprieve
“It was also important for me to set this film in the Birmingham neighbourhoods where I grew up, specifically the areas which aren’t always shown in the best of lights. I’ve often found the portrayal of under-funded and low-income neighbourhoods to be misrepresented in film.
“Dusty Do Good gives an honest representation of these areas and this meant showing their sometimes hostile nature, but also the incredible amount of warmth and unmitigated generosity that you can find in the people who make up these communities.”
With delays in filming due to COVID restrictions and budgeting issues, Dusty Do Good has taken nearly three years to finish. The film is now complete and is being submitted to various film festivals.
Source : Birmingham Live