Harborough actor's low-budget gangster movie wins top award at glittering film ceremony
Her drama Lucas and Albert won the coveted Best Feature Film at the National Film Awards
A Harborough actor's has been catapulted on to centre stage after her big new movie has carried off a top award at a glittering film ceremony.
Cassandra French, 45, said she is “thrilled to bits” after gangster drama Lucas and Albert won the coveted Best Feature Film at the National Film Awards.
And the low-budget movie picked up the prestigious accolade against all the odds after beating off fierce competition from such blockbusters as Bafta-winning Great War epic 1917 and director Ken Loach’s Sorry we Missed You.
Ecstatic Cassandra told the Harborough Mail: “We are all thrilled to bits – I’m still getting my breath back.
“We didn’t expect to get nominated in the first place, never mind win this award!
“It’s just amazing.
“We are still pinching ourselves, we can’t believe that it’s real and that we’ve done this,” laughed Cassandra, who still lives in Market Harborough.
“This is pure Cinderella. We made Lucas and Albert for about £60,000, it was an absolute snip backed by independent investors.
“So many movies these days cost millions to shoot.
“Our top-notch director Darren Cook is from Kettering just up the road – so this really is a fantastic local effort.”
She said the cast and production staff all pitched up at the showstopping ceremony at the grand Porchester Hall in Bayswater, west London, last Thursday (July 1).
Sitting alongside fellow stars such as James Osborne, AG Longhurst and John Altman, aka Nasty Nick from EastEnders, Cassandra said: “It was just mad.
“There we were just so pleased to be all back together again.
“The strap broke on one of my shoes as we walked in and I had to have an emergency repair carried out on the spot.
“Talk about drama.
“We were tucking in to the fabulous food and having a drink or two, we didn’t even discuss winning,” said Cassandra, who attended Welland Park and Robert Smyth schools in Market Harborough.
“We were just so excited to be back out of the house and enjoying such a glamorous occasion, catching up and chatting to each other non stop.
“I nipped off to the toilet.
“And when I got back everyone was up on the stage – and one of the gang was showing off a big gold award!
“I thought ‘what the heck’s going on here’.
“So I ran straight up to join them on the stage and lap up all the applause and adulation,” said Cassandra.
“It was bonkers.
“We were all in tears, we were just in shock.
“We were up against hugely-acclaimed global movies like 1917 and Sorry We Missed You for heaven’s sake.
“So to win the Best Feature Film award is just insane – we’re all still buzzing, we’re still on top of the world.”
Lucas and Albert tells the story of two ageing hitmen sent to clean up a bank robbery gone wrong 20 years earlier.
As the director, Darren edited the entire film - shot over several months - and led on some of the camera work.
“He lives in Kettering and he came over for lunch with me today.
“He’s a brilliant guy and we had such a laugh together,” said Cassandra, who plays a femme fatale called Lizzie in the film.
“I’ve got a pivotal role in Lucas and Albert – and it’s been great to get it on Amazon Prime.
“This is right up there as one of the highlights of my career so far – and one of the best moments of my life.
“I’ve just done a film with Vinnie Jones and another with Superman star Dean Cain.
“And following on from the great success of Lucas and Albert we’re going to shoot The Babysitters with many of the same characters,” said Cassandra.
“I’ve got another stand-out role in that and it’s going to be brilliant.
“We all work so hard together, we all do our absolute best and we have so many laughs.
“The chemistry is just phenomenal.
“I’ve wanted to act since I was a schoolgirl.
“And after breaking through so amazingly in the last three years I really am living the dream,” said Cassandra.