A child drug addict who turned his life around by becoming a film producer is hoping his story will inspire others.
Jason Cook, of Stapleton Road, Borehamwood, first tried cocaine when he was just 12-years-old – but by the time he was 15, he was selling drugs from his bedroom.
Now a successful film producer based at Elstree Studios, in Elstree Way, the 38-year-old is holding a competition to find the next generation of filmmakers.
The dad-of-three said: “I will never forget the first time I tried drugs. My best friend was 14-years-old and I looked up to him.
“We were at Organ Hall Hill and he offered me cocaine – I did not even hesitate, I just wanted to see what it was about. I got such a buzz and everything spiralled from there.”
His parents were oblivious to his part-time job as a drug dealer until he was 20-years-old and the police raided his home.
After an initial spell of expected anger, they vowed to support their son to the hilt and he spent three years in jail.
During his time in jail, his now 17-year-old daughter Chelsea was born and he vowed to be the best dad no matter what, so agreed to take part in a one-step drug scheme.
Eighteen years later he is now clean, and has had two more children – Hugh, nine, who lives with him full-time and four-year-old Edward.
Since he has become clean, he has produced films based on his childhood – Drugs, Mugs and Violence, Tunnel Vision and There is No Room for Jugglers in My Circus.
The former Grange Hill star is now holding the Short Film Awards to give film enthusiasts the chance to win a cash prize.
He added: “It is a really great way to allow people to express themselves and to produce a film about the issues affecting society today.
“I hope it will help keep kids off the streets at least and give them a focus – something to do. I do not want anyone to go through what I went through.
“I am really looking forward to judging these entries and seeing what creative ideas the budding filmmakers have come up with.”
The awards, to be held at the Ark Theatre, in Thrift Farm Lane, in April will also raise cash for various charities in Borehamwood.
Film enthusiasts have the chance to write and direct their own movie for the chance to win a cash prize.
People of all ages can enter a five-minute film on any subject to be screened at the event, which is being run by Elstree Studios.
The winner will be awarded a trophy and £50, and two runners up will also be selected. To apply, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mr Cook is also looking for businesses to sponsor the awards and is asking anyone interested to e-mail him.