'The Murder of Linda Cook' is January 2018's Film of the Month

12 Mar 2018

6 mins
'The Murder of Linda Cook' is January 2018's Film of the Month

We are very pleased to announce that our Film of the Month winner for January 2018 is the docu-drama The Murder of Linda Cook, made by Emily at Wales High School in South Yorkshire.

The Murder of Linda Cook (engaging for those aged 11+) is based on the true story of a British man who was convicted of murder - a decision which was then overturned sixteen years later. This intense police procedural thriller is a clever re-construction which examines the legal process of the case, aided by a booming score.

An incredibly well-researched and constructed, piece with excellent attention to detail and a creative recreation of the time period. Both moving and informative, this film is a persuasive piece about true events in which a miscarriage of justice had devastating effects on those involved.

Film of the Month judge on 'The Murder of Linda Cook'

We got in touch with Emily to find out more about The Murder of Linda Cook.

How does it feel to win the Film of the Month competition?

Amazing. This is the first time I have ever made a film and I definitely didn't expect it to win a competition. I am currently completing an Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) and just wanted to make a short film to accompany my presentation.

What made you decide to tell this story?

Whilst researching the use of DNA testing within the Criminal Justice System, I came across multiple cases of misjustice. It was shocking to read the stories of innocent people who had been wrongly accused of crimes. Linda Cook's murder particularly interested me, as it led to one of the first exoneration cases in the UK and I felt this would complement my project.

The film has a really strong feel for the period it's set in. How did you achieve this?

The murder itself took place in 1986. I wanted to ensure the film portrayed this, as it played a dominant role in the outcome of Shirley's conviction. I chose costumes based on popular styles during the period, and with the guidance of Mr Sanderson [the school's technical tutor for A-Level media/film studies], I filmed at locations that weren't littered with modern features.

What message would you like people to take from The Murder of Linda Cook?

My main goal was to highlight the corruption of the Justice System when it dealt with Michael Shirley. An innocent man spent 16 years in prison for a crime he could not lawfully be convicted of committing. I also wanted to show how easy it is for an innocent person to become affiliated with a crime, regardless of a lack of substantial evidence.

What advice would you give to other young people who want to start making films?

Go for it. Outline what you'd like to cover and make sure your ideas are realistic. If you're not confident about filming it yourself, then don't be afraid to ask for help. I would never have been able to complete this project without the help of Mr. Sanderson who, very kindly gave up his time to support me.

If you could make The Murder of Linda Cook again, what would you do differently, and why?

I think I would introduce Shirley's character before he was arrested, so that the audience get a better sense of the devastation he experienced. I would also cover his time in prison and place more focus on his campaign for innocence.

What are some of your favourite films? Did any of these influence your film?

While they aren't films, the TV series' Broadchurch and Line of Duty influenced the script for my film. I didn't want the interrogation scene to seem forced - I wanted it to be realistic. Both TV shows gave me inspiration on how to portray the characters and their reactions, particularly Shirley's.

The Murder of Linda Cook will now be showcased to over 300,000 film club members online and on the Into Film YouTube channel, and Emily has won a £100 Amazon voucher and a DVD! If you've been inspired by this month's winner, find out more about how you can enter our ongoing Film of the Month competition.

If you liked The Murder of Linda Cook then why not try these related films:

  • The Thin Blue Line (1988, 15, 97mins) Engaging for 14+
    Errol Morris dramatically re-enacts a controversial criminal investigation in this acclaimed documentary which resulted in the case being reviewed and the conviction overturned.
  • 12 Angry Men (1957, U, 92mins) Engaging for 11+
    Sidney Lumet's classic sees a jury of twelve men discuss and debate a murder trial in detail after one man refuses to go along with the "guilty" verdict consensus.
  • Witness for the Prosecution (1957, U, 116mins) Engaging for 11+
    Writer-director Billy Wilder adapts Agatha Christie's stage play for the screen in this electrifying, twist-laden courtroom drama.
  • In a Lonely Place (1950, PG, 89mins) Engaging for 11+
    A terrific film noir in which Humphrey Bogart plays an alcoholic screenwriter who is given an alibi when accused of murder by his trusting neighbour… until she begins to have doubts.

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