Limavady movie maker wins Scottish Bafta

Limavady man, Neil hartop with his BAFTA in Scotland New Talent Award. 2703SJ1
Limavady man, Neil hartop with his BAFTA in Scotland New Talent Award. 2703SJ1

A Limavady film maker is celebrating after winning a Scottish Bafta award.

Neil Hartop, who lives in Edinburgh, picked up the prestigious Best Short Fiction (under 30 minutes) award for his movie, Rabbit Punch, which he directed and wrote, at the glitzy BAFTA in Scotland New Talent Award ceremony last week.

Speaking to the ‘Journal’ on Friday, the thrilled 32-year-old said he had convinced himself he wasn’t going to win.

“When they called out my name I thought they had called out the wrong name,” he said. “We really were the underdogs.”

The short film tells the story of two best friends who join a boxing gym and are pitched against each other in their first fight. It shows how their friendship slowly disintegrates.

Neil said the movie, with a budget of just £5,500, took almost two and a half years to make, including research.

“It’s taken a big chunk of mental willpower,” he said, “but it’s been amazing and challenging. Along the way, people have told me I couldn’t do it. It’s been a tough battle, but I’ve been lucky to have two amazing producers on board.When I was sitting watching the clips of the other movies that were nominated, my heart sank because I thought I can’t compete against this!”

Neil’s interest in movies was sparked by a friend at the North West College in Limavady.

“That really changed everything for me,” he said. “It was a real turning point. Growing in a small farming town, making movies was a fantasy. You only thought people in the outside world made a living from it!”

The Edinburgh Napier BA Photography & Film graduate has worked on several movies. However, Rabbit Punch is his first independent movie.

Neil revealed Rabbit Punch will show at the Toronto Film Festival in September, and is waiting to hear if it will show at festivals in New York and London.

“The Bafta still hasn’t sunk in. It’s quite overwhelming,” he said, “but it doesn’t mean I’m going to Hollywood! If anything it means I have to work twice as hard and be twice as humble.”

Proud mum Carol is thrilled. “He really deserves it because he has worked so hard,” she said. “All his family, dad Harry and brother Glenn, and friends are delighted for him. We’re over the moon!”

Check out the trailer for ‘Rabbit Punch’ at