Filmmaker dies pretending to be homeless

Senior Editor
04.09.13 25 Comments

An English film director (and apparently super handsome guy) was found dead in a boarded up hostel last week, just three days after he started a project in which he planned to live like a homeless person for a week to draw attention to the homeless problem. Now, he’s either a martyr for his cause, a cautionary tale, or both. Or maybe Newcastle is just really gritty.

Friends believed that Lee Halpin, 26, who was discovered in a boarded up hostel on Wednesday morning, may have succumbed to hypothermia as temperatures reached as low as -4C overnight in the city.
But yesterday, detectives investigating Mr Halpin’s death arrested a 26-year-old and a 30-year-old on suspicion of being concerned in the supply of controlled drugs.
A Northumbria police spokesman said the men had been bailed pending further inquiries and that a report was being prepared for the coroner.
Mr Halpin, a Newcastle University graduate, had planned to spend a week experiencing life on the streets and on Sunday, the night before he embarked on the project, he made a video in which he said he wanted to “immerse himself” in the lifestyle.
“I am about to go and spend a week being homeless in the West End of Newcastle,” he said.
“I will sleep rough, scrounge for my food, access all the services that other homeless individuals in the West End use. I will interact with as many homeless people as possible and immerse myself in that lifestyle as deeply as I can.”
In the clip, Mr Halpin said he was producing the documentary as part of an application for a position on an Channel 4 investigative journalism programme.
He said: “I hope that you perceive this to be a fearless approach to a story. “It certainly feels brave from where I’m sat right now. [Telegraph via Gawker]

Obviously, it’s a pretty crappy story, and not just because of Lee Halpin’s rugged good looks. Maybe God just didn’t want such a handsome do-gooder down here making all the rest of us look bad. In any case, if there’s a lesson here, and I’m not sure there is, it’s that you should take care not to confuse making a reenactment look real enough for a movie with doing an actual, real reenactment, provided you value your own good health. Bear Grylls sells his survival techniques well by drinking his own pee a lot, but I doubt he’s ever that far from a PA with a space heater and an elephant gun. Stay safe out there, kids.

Other friends have also paid tribute to Mr Halpin, who lived in Newcastle with his family, online.

Dean Sowden said: “Lee was a prominent figure in my life. I remember him as a caring and passionate young man who always had time for me on a personal level, he always had the right suggestions that got me over some dark times.

“I miss him terribly but I will always remember his wit, his smile, his hope that things will get better and, on a lighter note, his dress sense – boy could that lad dress himself accordingly.”

Sure, sure, it was his “dress sense.” I’m just glad I’m not the only one who noticed that he was ridiculously handsome.

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