Best British 2019

Dead Birds

Dead Birds is a black comedy about competitive badminton and competitive mothers and daughters, that poses the question: how far would you go to get what you really want?


Johnny Kenton


Sabina Smitham


Amelia Spencer



UK, 33 mins

Elsa, a failing teenage badminton player, lives life on the subs-bench at her all-girls Catholic boarding school. Caught between the perfect girls of the badminton squad and her former-badminton champion mother, Elsa decides that the only way to improve her lot is to become good at badminton. Not just good… the best. But when she heads to the school chapel for solace, she finds herself face-to-face with a Saint, who makes her an offer she just can’t refuse.

Dead Birds is a dark and twisted supernatural comedy about mother-daughter relationships, losing your religion and learning how far you’ll go to get what you want.

Best British Programme 2 | We Are Family | Cineworld Screen 14 | Fri 11 Oct 3:00pm 

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As a teenager, Johnny started making experimental films and music videos for his friend’s bands, shooting for labels including Columbia, Universal and XL recordings. Johnny then trained as a David Lean Scholar at the NFTS graduating in February 2018. While still a student he won Best Drama at New York Television Festival, the Pia Pressure Award for Emerging Talent and had his debut fiction shorts shown at festivals worldwide including Berlin, New York, Hoboken, Clermont Ferrand, Camerimage, Atlanta, Raindance, LFF, LSFF amongst many others, his shorts attracting talent including Taron Egerton, Lydia Wilson, Synnove Karlsen and Shannon Tarbet. His graduation film Dead Birds was nominated for five student Royal Television Society awards, winning three, and was selected by The Academy as a finalist for the Student Academy Awards. Raised in the highlands by a single mother, who was an A&E nurse and worked in a shelter for victims of domestic violence, Johnny’s work often features female heroes, darkly surreal humour and monsters of both the fantastical and real kind. He has projects in development at House Productions, Sunnymarch, Tiger Aspect as well as sci-fi drama BLACK SCAPE with Screen Star of Tomorrow / Nicholls Award winning writer Melissa Iqbal (Humans/The Nevers) and his first feature being penned by Amelia Spencer and developed with the BFI. Last year Johnny directed the lead episode of Mammoth Screen’s hit show Endeavour and is currently the lead director setting up Netflix’s new YA supernatural thriller The Irregulars. Johnny is a 2018 Screen International Star of Tomorrow and is represented by Roxana Adle at Independent.