In 2015, Kelly was sleeping rough on the streets of London with no support network, her children had been taken into care and she was unsure how long she would survive. In 2017, Kelly's Story won the Recovery Street Film Festival.
"I was at the end of a very long, treacherous road. I was beaten down and I was alone. I had no family around me, I had no friends around me. I was completely isolated, a shell of a person. I couldn’t see a way out of it. I knew there was something that needed to be done but I didn’t know how to get the help and I didn’t know if I could actually do it after 16 years of using drugs. Everything in my life was a question mark."
I asked Kelly about her experience of making the winning film for the 2017 festival, Kelly's Story, a film by Jeremiah Quinn:
"My biggest motivator was to let people know that if I can do it, then so can they. Part of the process of being in recovery is giving back to others in recovery. I was really nervous when I was told I was going to meet this guy at Trafalgar Square so he can film where I used to be and then come back to the service for the main part of the interview. I was nervous about what he was going to ask me and what was expected of me. I met Jeremiah, who was making the film, and he put me at ease completely. I just told my story to him and didn’t think about anyone seeing it. I never thought so many people would see it and come up to me and say “I saw your film, it was amazing”.
The biggest thing I learnt from the experience was that I have the ability to get a message across just by being myself. I’m just telling my story. I’ve lived it, that’s all I’m talking about. When someone gets impacted by that it makes me feel like I’ve accomplished something. Knowing that it can reach someone, knowing that someone can hear my story and it be similar to theirs and they can recognise that change is possible."
I also asked Kelly what it felt like when she found out the film had won and what she would be looking for now that she was a judge for the film festival:
"When I got told I had won, I was going through a difficult time. It was like a silver lining. I thought, how wonderful, someone’s thought that much of the film to give it first place. It made what was happening a little easier.
As a judge for the festival this year I will be looking for authenticity, simple as that. I don’t need to see loads of bells and whistles and clever effects. I just want to see someone telling their story, making it real. When something is simple you get less distracted and can pay attention to the story you’re being told."
So what advice would Kelly give someone who is thinking about making a film for this years festival?
"You’ve got the chance of not only changing your life but someone else’s too. Even if it’s one in a million, it’s worth it. Seeing your video might be that lightbulb moment you need".
You can watch Kelly's Story on our YouTube channel and the submission window for the 2018 Recovery Street Film Festival is now open. Check out our website for more information and to submit your film.