Kolton Lee Kolton Lee, award-winning writer-director
Kolton Lee Kolton Lee, award-winning writer-director launches the long awaited Freestyle, an Independent British film about young love and basketball.
Kolton Lee is a former journalist and Editor of The Voice – Britain’s number one black newspaper – who has since gone on to become a filmmaker. After graduating from the National Film and Television School (Europe’s premier film school) in the mid ’90s he worked primarily in British television writing episodes of the popular, long running BBC dramas Eastenders, Byker Grove and the series Brothers and Sisters. He has also directed a number of documentaries and short dramas for television, primarily the BBC.
2007 was something of a bumper year. As well as recently writing and directing his first feature film, Cherps, he also had his debut novel, the crime thriller The Last Card, published by London publishing company, Maia Press.
To go back to the beginning, Kolton’s parents are both from the Caribbean island of Montserrat. They met in London in the mid 50s. After a stormy marriage, however, the couple split and their two children – Kolton and his older brother, Sheridan – were sent to a Surrey based children’s home, Reedham School.
Kolton was seven when he arrived there and remained there until he was 16. Whilst living in Reedham, Kolton discovered a talent for sport, and basketball in particular. He went on to represent his county and his country at levels under-17 and U-19 and became a full, senior international player when he turned 20. He combined his playing with attending Borough Road College, part of London University, to study English Literature.
Unfortunately, a fledgling career as a professional basketball player was cut short after a bad knee injury when Kolton was 21. He had by this time earned his degree and began looking for work as a sports journalist. After a year of freelancing for a variety of sports publications including Atheletics Weekly, Basketbal Monthly, City Limits (now defunct), Kolton started a full time job on the sports desk of Britain’s leading black newspaper, The Voice.
Kolton quickly worked his way up to the position of Editor and remained in the post for two years.
From there he left to join the News on Sunday, the radical, left wing Sunday tabloid. In joining the news team as its News Editor, Kolton became the first black, British person to be made the News Editor of a national newspaper. Sadly, the paper ran out of financing six months after its launch and was bought out by another publisher. From here Kolton joined the BBC as a researcher in documentaries, learned from the inside out about television and the making of programmes, but then decided that he wanted to work in drama. Rather than stay at the BBC Kolton decided to apply for, and was accepted into, The National Film and Television School.
After graduating from the NFTS in the mid 90s and working as a writer and/or director on a number of television programmes (including a stint at Crucial Films, the production company owned by Lenny Henry) Kolton decided to go on the move again.
In 1998 he moved to New York where he lived for four years. While there he made his first independent short drama, American Mod. Not only did the film – about the mod scene in New York – play in over 20 festivals around the world, find itself being picked up by the international short film distributors Hypnotic, and screen nationally on American, Japanese and Canadian television, the film was also noteworthy for having the last ever performance of British actor and raconteur Quintin Crist; sadly, Quintin died three weeks after the film finished shooting.
While living in New York Kolton wrote and had performed his first play, An Evening with Michael Jordan at the National Black Theatre of Harlem.
Kolton arrived back in London in 2002 and promptly founded the Film and Television production company Prophet Pictures. Through Prophet Pictures, Kolton has written, directed and produced his first feature film Cherps, winner of a Screen Nation Independent Spirit Film Award. Cherps went on to become the first independently produced and financed black, British feature film to be bought by the BBC. It was screened as part of the BBC’s British Film Season on BBC 2 during September 2007. CHERPS has also sold to pay-per-view TV in South Africa.
Kolton’s short film Blood, a film that he directed and produced (with Louis Heaton, friend and business partner), has since sold to MTV, North America and is currently being courted by a number of DVD distribution companies. Blood was also selected for ‘Black World’, the British Film Institute’s programme of the best films from filmmakers throughout the African diaspora. This was a programme that toured the UK during June of 2005.
Kolton’s second feature film, Freestyle, a film written by Michael Maynard and produced by Lincia Daniel .
As well as telling stories through his filmmaking Kolton is also interested in other forms of storytelling. And so as well as writing An Evening with Michael Jordan in America, Kolton is currently preparing his second the play, his first in the UK. It is an adaptation of the novel, Brixton Rocks, a book written by Alex Wheatle. The play has been commissioned by the Theatre Royal Stratford East, in east London.
Kolton’s first novel, the contemporary crime thriller The Last Card , received outstanding reviews in the Guardian and the Observer and Kolton is currently preparing a follow up for his publisher. It is planned that The Last Card is the first in a series of contemporary thrillers that features the returning hero of the book, H.
Kolton Lee – Freestyle, an Independent British film about young love and basketball. http://www.freestylemovie.co.uk (Feb 2010)
Watch the Trailer