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20 July 2018

Film studio boss opens doors to young people affected by knife crime

The owner of a leading London film studio has thrown its doors open to help young people affected by knife crime.

Frank Khalid, 49, runs West London Studios where Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch filmed The Imitation Game. He has set up free workshops there to give young people an insight into production — complete with tours of the complex, guest speakers from the industry and career advice.

Mr Khalid, who grew up in Newham, employs 85 people and owns three businesses with multi-million-pound turnovers. Blockbusters such as Burnt starring Bradley Cooper and Sienna Miller, and The Mercy starring Colin Firth, were shot in the studios in Hayes.

The businessman, who himself witnessed the impact of crime as a youth, launched the Directing Lives initiative in response to London’s epidemic of knife attacks.

It comes just a week after Katerina Makunova, 17, was stabbed to death in Camberwell. Detectives have opened inquiries into at least 82 killings this year, many involving under-25s.

Mr Khalid said he wanted to help young people who have a “lack of opportunity”, adding: “I witnessed some of my fellow pupils have tough times surrounding violence and I do not recall there being a lot of organisations that were helping to tackle this matter.

“Growing up in an area with a high crime rate, I understand that there can be a lot of pressure from peers, however I strongly believe that by actually speaking to these young people and hearing their stories they will see they can get far with humble beginnings by making the right choices.

“I want to give them an insight into an industry they may not have had the opportunity to experience, and by doing so show it’s never too late to turn your life around.”

Mr Khalid is planning courses with qualifications, and young people would also direct a short film about knife crime and the positive results of going in the right direction.

Source: Evening Standard