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It is 1909 in the small Sussex fishing port of Aduring-by-Sea where 13-year-old Tom Jupe is in his last year at school. Tom dreams of being apprenticed to a professional photographer when he leaves school but his strict Primitive Methodist parents strongly disapprove.
But when the South Seas Film Company sets up camp on Aduring Beach, Tom makes friends with them and is soon secretly involved in film-making - under the pseudonym of Daniel Lyons. But how long can he hide his true identity?