Don’t Make Your Work Too Real: Filmmaker Froze to Death Trying to Impress TV Bosses

Too much reality: A young filmmaker is believed to have frozen to death while making a documentary about sleeping rough on the streets as he tried to impress television bosses. Young Englishman Lee Halpin planned to spend this week on the streets of Newcastle experiencing and filming what life is like for those who are living rough.

In a video explaining his project, he claimed he was applying for a position on a Channel 4 investigative journalism program. He said that as he had to show the channel he could be “fearless” — a key “value” of the broadcaster — he planned to spend a week “immersed” in the world of homelessness, and wanted to “sleep rough and scrounge for food.”

Doesn’t this tragic story remind on conflict and war photography. How far are you willing to go? Well the 27-year-old’s competition was tough. So he wanted to live among the homeless. “Sleeping on the street” and “begging for food” were parts of his screenplay.

Interestingly the British TV channel was really mainly after stories — says their application abstract:

Please note that we do not expect high production values regarding your clip; quality is not important, we don’t care what camera you use (it can be recorded on your mobile phone), we are only interested in your answers to the two questions (below):

What it takes to become an investigative TV journalist. | TV Channel 4
What it takes to become an investigative TV journalist. | TV Channel 4

In a video application Halpin, spoke of his “fearless approach” that was essential for investigative journalism. As the motivation for his report he saw the rise in homeless numbers and cuts in social spending by the government, as reported by the Daily Mail.

Three days after he started filming, the risky endeavor ended tragically. Halpin was found dead in an abandoned hostel in Newcastle; apparently frozen in a city that experienced a record temperature low for this time of the year at below freezing point.

“He has brought the ultimate sacrifice in order to draw attention to the fate of other people,” said a long-time friend of Halpin’s. Police have arrested two persons in connection with his death. They are suspected to have sold him drugs.

Drugs to make the story more real? Or the freezing bearable? R.I.P. Lee.

Here are his last words. Well he predicted danger on the eve of the assignment where he died, sleeping rough and scrounging for food: