Murky world of grooming young video gamers brought to life in award-winning film from University of Northampton student

News Page 8th April 2019

A short film which delves into the dangers of online grooming has earned a University of Northampton student two festival awards.

Joel Caborn scooped two gongs at Screen Northants’ inaugural Northampton Film Festival for the deeply affecting My Friend Frank, which he both wrote and directed.

The film is narrated by schoolboy Charlie, who lives with an abusive mother and doesn’t have any friends. Charlie seeks solace in Frank, an adult pretending to be a child who he meets via an online video game.

You can watch a trailer of the film and a making of feature, below.


Joel is hoping that by having as many parents and children watching My Friend Frank as possible, potential cases of online grooming via video games could be prevented.

“It’s important young children see the film and take on the messages as they are the ones going to be getting into situations where the receive friend requests from a stranger,” said Joel, who comes from Leicester and is in the second year of his Media Production & Moving Image degree.

“They often accept these requests without understanding what’s going on.

“For parents, the film will help them to recognise what to keep an eye on, who their children are playing with and adjust video game settings to stop unsolicited friend requests coming through.”

Joel added: “Having won these awards at the Northampton Film Festival and a couple of awards elsewhere it is an amazing feeling as it just proves to me that the message of the film is getting out there and making this issue known.

“It shows we’ve done a good job at portraying this message accurately and effectively and hopefully, the film will continue to go to schools all around the UK and reach festivals all over the world, helping as many people as possible.”

My Friend Frank was made as part of the Safer Frontiers project commissioned by Safen3t – an awareness and educational programme aimed at informing people on the risks and dangers of social media, extremism and the internet. It will be used in Prevent-funded workshops throughout 2019 in Luton, Liverpool, Manchester and Leicester.

My Friend Frank was selected as the best film for the Coming of Age and the Best From a 16-25 Year Old Filmmaker categories at the Northampton Film Festival awards evening, held at the Royal Theatre on Wednesday 27 March.

Judges included writer Alan Moore, director Mitch Jenkins and actor Tom Burke.

The festival, which received more than 100 submissions, ran for 16 days in March, with screenings and events held at the Grosvenor Centre, Northampton Filmhouse and the University.

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