An up-and-coming filmmaker who had decided to live on the streets for a week to document the plight of the local homeless population was found dead inside a boarded-up hostel just three days after his experiment began.

Though an official cause of death has yet to be released, friends of 26-year-old Lee Halpin believe he froze to death after overnight temperatures in Newcastle (UK) dipped well below zero degrees Celsius (32F).

Halpin, who had an MA in creative writing and was the founder of a magazine on North East culture, intended to use the week-long documentary to apply for a spot in Channel 4's highly competitive Investigative Journalism Program.

"I am about to go and spend a week being homeless in the West End of Newcastle," he said in a video detailing his plans. "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."

Friends of Halpin, who last heard from him on Sunday when he asked to borrow a sleeping bag, were shocked to learn of his fate.

"He made the ultimate sacrifice trying to raise awareness about what was happening to other people," said pal Daniel Lake.

A coroner's report will be released in the coming days, but local police say they don't suspect foul play.

[video via ITV]