Page last updated at 11:13 GMT, Friday, 27 March 2009

Offenders' film gets its premiere

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AKA explores young offender Karl's past and his how the probation service helped him stay clean

A tale of drugs, violence and life spiralling into crime receives a special premiere on Friday, as part of a project to help offenders.

The film AKA, or 'Also Known As', is the centrepiece of an awards ceremony being held in Newtown organised by the Dyfed Powys Probation Trust.

The drama was made by five offenders trying to put their own lives back together on a skills course.

It is hoped the film will now be used by probation services to help others.

"The project has been absolutely fantastic for the offenders involved," said Newtown Probation Service Officer Tracy Sandford.

AKA film character 'Karl' drinking
For the film's main character 'Karl', the downward spiral started with booze

"These are some of the people most hard to reach and they are turning up every day and have kept their commitment."

The film project has taken three months to complete, with the five offenders involved working alongside a writer Clive Hopwood, from the Writers in Prison Network.

"It's an upbeat and positive movie although the story is quite dark in places," said the writer.

"The main character becomes involved in alcohol and drugs and ends up in prison. He eventually works with the probation service and other services to help put his life back on track."

One of the main actors, Stephanie, 23, said the project has been "really good" and brought the group closer together.

"We have had a few laughs and jokes along the way," she admitted.

'Hope'

She said that writing the script helped them because most of them had lived through similar experiences.

"We can see how the character has got over all his hardships in life and turned it around and got what he wanted and where he wanted," she added.

'Offenders' fleeing robbery in the film
After becoming a drug addict 'Karl' takes part in a shop robbery

"It makes us more determined to do it ourselves. It is important to have hope, it gets you through everything at the end of the day, and ambition does too."

The project has certainly rubbed off on Stephanie - she is now in college studying towards becoming a probation officer.

Another actor, 25-year-old Tony, said the filming had helped build up his own self-esteem and confidence.

"I would recommend the film to anybody coming out of prison. It's a good story," he said.

Bob Walters, the Powys development officer for Community Justice Interventions Wales, added: "The idea is to give these people a structured lifestyle where they meet regularly and gain qualifications for their CVs.

"It's probably one of the most challenging jobs I have ever done in my life but it is certainly rewarding."



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