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20, June 2017

By: Christy Oldham

“Oh, the places you will go.” -Dr. Seuss

Experiencing new lands and cultures can be inspiring, educational and often produces epiphanies that, if acted upon, may change one’s life, forever. This could very well be the case for eleven Los Angeles based students from disadvantaged areas and backgrounds, who were given the opportunity of a lifetime to travel to Northern Ireland to work on a new feature film called Grace and Goliath, produced by award-winning youth film charity Cinemagic.

DemiGoddess Chronicle has in its spotlight a few of the students: 17 year olds Hana Kraus, Edie Trautwein, Arianna Alpert-Hufft and 18 year old Daria Roland.

These accomplished students are part of the Cinemagic feature film experience who come from Hamilton High School, New Roads and Jordan High School. They are working with nearly 40 other young Irish filmmakers in this unique International co-production initiative aimed at offering students a broader, multi-cultural experience. Each student occupies a film position, e.g., directing, make-up artist, art department or camera operator to get hands-on experience working on an international film set in Northern Ireland.

Photo courtesy Cinemagic PR for DemiGoddessChronicle.com
Hana Kraus-New Roads High School Student. Photo courtesy Cinemagic PR for DemiGoddessChronicle.com

Hana, now in the eleventh grade, has unknowingly prepared for this opportunity since the seventh grade. “I have had lots of experience making films in school and have been taking video production classes since the seventh grade,” she said. “I also have had experience working on the sets of music videos and independent film projects as a production assistant, director’s assistant and director.”

Edie Trautwein-New Roads High School student. Photo courtesy Cinemagic PR for DemiGoddessChronicle.com

Edie is interested in film theory, criticism and analysis and her teachers have taken note of her organic film skills and strong eye for cinematic material. She has experience making comedic short films and says “Going to Ireland to learn more about filmmaking, and learning about Irish culture and to experience Belfast is very exciting.”

Hana adds “The most valuable currency in the world is knowledge. I am only beginning my career as a filmmaker (something I hope to continue for the rest of my life) and any experience I can gain is invaluable. ”

Cinemagic_Arianna (2) (Small)
Arianna Alpert-Hufft. Hamilton High School student. Photo courtesy of Cinemagic PR for DemiGoddessChronicle.com

“My experience with Cinemagic so far has been unforgettable,” says Arianna. “I’ve already done things I never would have done without it such as talking to well known people in the business. I have been inspired.”

Daria Roland- Hamilton High School student. Photo courtesy Cinemagic PR for DemiGoddessChronicle.com

“I truly feel like this will be one of the most memorable experiences of my life,” adds Daria.  “I think it will make me want to continue to pursue this industry, feeling more prepared and knowledgeable.”

For nearly three decades, Cinemagic’s mission has been uninterrupted in its pursuit as a youth charity to inspire, educate and motivate young people through the medium of film and television.

New Roads High School teacher Michelle Bernstein. Photo courtesy of Cinemagic PR for DemiGoddessChronicle.com
New Roads High School teacher Michelle Bernstein. Photo courtesy of Cinemagic PR for DemiGoddessChronicle.com

Grace and Goliath follows the success of Cinemagic’s first feature film, A Christmas Star, made in 2014-15, which gave 40 young filmmakers an invaluable opportunity to learn from top industry professionals and earn their first credit on a feature production. A Christmas Star premiered in Belfast, New York and Los Angeles; it was screened in Ireland on UTV and BBC on Christmas Day and was distributed across numerous territories including platforms such as Netflix USA and Australia and BBC iPlayer. The young people from Los Angeles, aged 15-18, will be given the chance to work alongside film and television professionals led by director Tony Mitchell (The Bible, AD The Bible Continues, Primeval, Supervolcano and Flood). The feature film is being produced by Cinemagic Chief Executive, Joan Burney Keatings MBE and is written by Maire Campbell (Delicate Things, Chancer, A Christmas Star).

Cinemagic engages with 40,000 people on an annual basis and it is supported by a host of film and television professionals, with patrons including Liam Neeson, Pierce Brosnan and Julian Fellowes, who share the charity’s ethos to educate, motivate and inspire by offering creative industries opportunities for young people from ALL backgrounds. Cinemagic was founded in Belfast in 1988, and now operates in the Republic of Ireland and the UK as wells as France, and the US.

DemiGoddess Chronicle had the opportunity to interview Cinemagic’s CEO Joan Burney Keatings MBE, and this is what she had to say:

Cinemagic CEO Joan Burney Keatings. Photo courtesy of Cinemagic Pr for DemiGoddessChronicle.com

DGC: What is the best part about your role as CEO of Cinemagic?

JBK: “Being able to work with an amazing team and constantly come up with creative and fun ideas. With this job I get to implement new ideas and see them come to life. Being able to see and witness the impact Cinemagic has on so many lives, from ages 4 to 25, in very many disciplines is incredible. Our work throughout Northern Ireland, Ireland, U.K., France and USA enables us to engage with over 40,000 young people annually and witness the real impact it is having on their lives, either by engaging in our vast screening, education and outreach programme, practical film making courses and training programmes.”

DGC: Maya Angelo once said “Our legacy is reflected in the lives we have touched.” In what ways has Cinemagic touched young people’s lives?

JBK: “Cinemagic enables young people from very different backgrounds and abilities, come together to learn from each other, unlock their creativity and celebrate what they have in common. Young people are given encouragement to try things and experience things they may have never thought possible. Cinemagic breaks down barriers and makes access into the industry much more accessible. Cinemagic projects teach young people self belief, confidence and provides the opportunity to meet young people from other cultures.”

DGC: What advice do you have for disadvantaged young people who would like to pursue a career in filmmaking?”

JBK: “Never give up on your dream, get as much experience possible, try as many different roles as possible and have a much fun along the way as you can. We have a long-running partnership with the schools in Los Angeles that the young people attend- New Roads School, David Starr Jordan High School and Hamilton High School and this project will enhance our relationship further by offering a unique skills development program for the participating students. With support from the American Ireland Funds, Belfast City Council, British Council and The Irish American Partnership, we will be able to offer special training to the LA students to develop their talents and skills.”

Claire Shaw- Cinemagic's Press & Marketing Officer. Photo courtesy of Cinemagic PR for DemiGoddessChronicle.com
Claire Shaw- Cinemagic’s Press & Marketing Officer. Photo courtesy of Cinemagic PR for DemiGoddessChronicle.com

“It’s brilliant to see ideas and planning come to fruition when young people are actually participating in events and projects and interacting with one another and getting so much out of the experience, whether that is networking with other like-minded young people, watching new films from around the world, making films, learning from industry professionals or getting a platform to showcase their talent,” said Claire Shaw, Cinemagic’s Press & Marketing Officer. “It’s always great after planning something for a long time when it all comes together and you can feel the positive and uplifting atmosphere in the room.”

Stay tuned for the follow up article as Demigoddess Chronicle catches up with the students after their epic sojourn!

“People don’t take trips…trips take people.” – John Steinbeck


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christy oldham
About christy oldham 123 Articles
Christy was educated in Paris at École des hautes études commerciales de Paris (HEC Paris), an international business school in France and studied film and television at LACC (Los Angeles Community College). She is a business owner, published author and a critically acclaimed independent filmmaker. Her 20 year body of cinema work to date includes 2 feature films, 15 short films and one web series. She is a writer, producer, director, cinematographer, actress and editor. Her headlining film credit includes the vigilante feature film "Barracuda" (Released in 2014 by Maverick Entertainment Group) which earned her critical filmmaker acclaim including 3 Best Picture awards at multiple U.S. film festivals. In 2017, she directed 3 episodes of the post-apocalyptic web series "Vape Warz", which she also wrote and produced. It premiered at the 2017 Mediterranean Film festival Cannes in the south of France and received an Honorable Mention for Best Web Series and is now streaming on Amazon. In 2019, she released her first foreign short film "Perdu à France" ("Lost In Provence")- also streaming on Amazon. She lives in Los Angeles.

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