A TALENTED musician who once couldn’t cross a road because he was so tormented by mental anxiety is the subject of a short film in the running for a top award from the Royal Television Society.

People stopped to stare as Elis Derby, from Y Felinheli, tried to make his way across the road but was frozen to the spot in the grip of an anxiety attack caused by Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).

Elis, 23, said: "I became rigid, I could barely walk as bizarre fears played out in my head. Some people asked if I was OK but others just looked at me as if I was mad. I’ve learned to ignore the odd looks now, I just focus as best as I can on what I’m doing."

The moment was a symptom of his torturous battle with the ‘living nightmare’ of OCD, the condition highlighted in a new short film made by his lifelong friend Tomos Morris-Jones, editor in training at Caernarfon-based Welsh Language TV production company Cwmni Da.

The highly acclaimed piece, titled Elis Derby: Fi ac OCD, has been shortlisted for best factual short film in the student category at the Royal Television Society’s RTS Cymru Awards 2020.

In a double triumph, Cwmni Da has also been nominated in the children’s programmes category for an episode of its hit Deian a Loli series, which is already the winner of a prestigious BAFTA award and was highly commended at the 2019 Broadcast Awards.

Tomos’s film was made when he was a Bangor University student. It unpicks the myths surrounding OCD and lays bare the harrowing emotional and practical struggles faced by Elis with whom he has been friends since schooldays.

Elis is a talented singer songwriter who has played large venues and just released his first album in what is a momentous victory over the OCD he has suffered since his teens.

He describes the condition as nightmarish and in its darkest forms capable of physically crippling him.

Elis said: “At its worst it can literally control my life. It causes physical ticks and involuntary speech inflections. I can’t think straight or even move normally. It stops me eating and sleeping, so much that people have noticed how I’ve lost weight when my OCD has been at its height.”

After years of witnessing his friend battle with the condition, Tomos, 22, was inspired to make the film for his end of year dissertation subject at Bangor University.

He graduated with a First in journalism and media studies, and Tomos says the film was key to him later achieving his editorial job at Cwmni Da.

He said: “At my interview they said after seeing the film they knew immediately they wanted to employ me.”

Tomos wants to raise awareness about the impact of OCD on a person’s daily life, and is now hopeful of producing a more in-depth version of the documentary.

He said: “I was limited by the constraints of my dissertation rules to only 10 minutes but I’d love to make a longer version of the same film, highlighting more about life with OCD.

“If Elis is willing I’d like to follow him around ‘fly on the wall’ style, charting the ups and downs of the traumatic journey he’s been on and the immense progress he’s made.”

Tomos, of Bangor, and Elis, of Y Felinheli, have been friends since their mums met when the boys were in primary school, and the two attended the same high school in Bangor, Ysgol Tryfan.

Tomos said: “I’ve known for a long time about his OCD but I only really saw evidence of it within our circle of friends, not when Elis was at home.

“For the film I interviewed his parents, Llion and Alwen, and realised what a huge impact the condition has on family life and home circumstances.

“It was a massive eye opener learning how Elis’s behaviour and mood can dramatically change the household dynamics depending on his OCD.”

The film aims to dispel the myth that the condition is just about people obsessing about keeping things in order, tidying the house or staying clean.

The RTS Cymru Awards 2020 winners will be revealed at a glittering ceremony to be staged at Cineworld, Cardiff, on Thursday, February 27.