Pakefield director and writer up for Bafta award

Former Seagull theatre manager and BAFTA nominee John Hales

Former Seagull theatre manager and BAFTA nominee John Hales - Credit: Archant

When a serious health scare forced John Hales to stand down as manager of Pakefield's Seagull theatre last October he was nervous about what his future might hold.

The 44-year-old had been involved with the community venue for 36 years but after two heart attacks he could no longer continue in the demanding role and left to focus on his career as a freelance writer and director.

Less than eight months on, Mr Hales is already making a name for himself in the film industry and is in the running for a prestigious award.

Mr Hales, who lives in Pakefield, has been nominated by BAFTA as a Breakthrough Brit 2014 for his work as director and writer of his first film Passengers.

He has also been chosen to write the screen adaptation of Martina Cole's bestselling crime novel Lady Killers and is working on a number of other projects with his newly-launched production company July 14,

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He said: 'I never thought I would be nominated for anything to do with BAFTA in my whole life.

'It has all happened within a year of leaving the Seagull.

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'It is going way better than I ever thought.

'I didn't know if I was ever going to get another job.'

Psychological thriller Passengers tells the story of a group of boys, who are stalked by a vengeful killer after seriously injuring a young nurse while driving to a music festival.

A cast and crew screening of the film was held at the Electric Cinema in London earlier this year and, unknown to Mr Hales, a representative from BAFTA was also present.

Mr Hales received notification of his nomination a few days later.

A final shortlist of nominations will be published in September before an awards ceremony in November.

The film does not have a release date yet but it is expected to be in cinemas soon.

Mr Hales said: 'I had to write a supporting statement for BAFTA about why I am a breakthrough Brit.

'I said I am not going to be a young tiger. Most of these guy are 20-somethings.

'Instead I wrote about dedication and persistence and not giving up when things get tough.'

Mr Hales' Lowestoft-based production company July 14, named for the day after his first heart attack on July 13, 2012, currently has a number of projects on its books.

They include period drama The High Society, written by Jonathan Goddard, which has signed Richard E Grant to play one of the roles.

Mr Hales has also written his own family adventure film entitled Footeball, which he hopes to produce in the coming months.

The Seagull gave Mr Hales his first taste of acting when he when he joined its youth drama group as a shy and bullied seven year old.

He became manager of the venue in 2009 after it was saved from closure.

During his time with the theatre, Mr Hales acted as a mentor to volunteers, giving them the confidence to go on and find paid employment.

He hopes to continue that by creating a number of apprenticeships at July 14.

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