29, July 2017
By: Christy Oldham
A few weeks ago, eleven Los Angeles based high school students traveled to Northern Ireland to work on a new feature film called Grace and Goliath, produced by award-winning youth film charity Cinemagic. (Read DGC Article Part 1: HERE)
The 11 teenagers were on location for ten days filming at the famous Europa Hotel in Belfast, Ireland and working with 36 other young filmmakers from Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. These outstanding high school students were given the opportunity of a lifetime by Cinemagic to experience a different culture and gain valuable on-set experience in trainee film positions such as directing, production and positions in the departments of make-up, costume, and camera while working closely with film and television professionals led by director Tony Mitchell (The Bible, AD The Bible Continues, Primeval, Supervolcano and Flood).
DemiGoddess Chronicle caught up with two of the students- Arianna Alpert-Hufft from Hamilton High School and Edie Trautwein from New Roads High School. Here is their exciting interview!
DGC: Tell us about your trip!
ET: “Being involved in Cinemagic was a highlight of my high school career and my life overall! Getting the chance to meet and work with professionals in the industry I aspire to be in was unforgettable. I will always remember the valuable lessons learned, and the wonderful people I met in Belfast.”
AAH: “The Ireland trainees were super sweet and hard working and I definitely had a lot of fun with them.”
DGC: Did the Irish students watch the same TV shows or listen to the same music as you?
ET: “Some of the Irish students were fans of ‘Doctor Who’, a TV show I watch religiously at home. I enjoyed talking with them about it. I have only really watched the newer seasons, but the Irish students exposed me to more of the classic ‘Doctor Who’ episodes. I had fun talking with them about a TV show we both watched and loved, and now I can say that I am a HUGE fan of classic ‘Doctor Who’ thanks to the other students.”
AAH: “I unfortunately didn’t get the time to ask about what music they listen to, but since we were all there for film I think we can safely agree we are all interested in the film industry. I definitely miss my Irish friends and wish I could of stayed longer to experience more with them.”
DGC: What was it like shooting a movie on location in Ireland?
AAH: “Belfast, Ireland was beautiful. I felt the culture in the city and I could see the history in the buildings and landscapes which was a different feel from LA. The set was in a typical Belfast apartment that connected the entire block. The apartment itself was tiny whereas in LA, the apartment they’d use for film would probably be bigger if they were on location. Otherwise they would’ve probably made their own apartment in a studio, so being on set in the tiny room close to all the action was a cool experience.”
ET: “My experience on set was amazing. I had worked on the set of a few music videos before being apart of this, but on those sets there were very limited crew members, and other services. On ‘Grace and Goliath’ I had the opportunity to witness production professionals at work, and they were so open and willing to talk to me about every aspect of their job. The food was great, I was happy to have a hearty meal after working. Other craft services in the U.S. (at least in my experience) have been a large bag of potato chips, a 2 liter bottle of soda, and maybe a sandwich plate, nothing like the meal we received in Belfast.”
DGC: What was your favorite part of your trip?
ET: “My favorite part of the trip was just being on set, and experiencing what it was like to be in the middle of all the fun, and chaos that goes into making a film. I am thankful for all the lessons learned, and connections that I made in Belfast. I think I found what I’m truly passionate about, and I’m happy that this trip let me realize my passion for film and production design.”
AAH: “The best part of the trip was standing in between the director and focus operator while watching them shoot scenes. I got to see the director talk to the actors and I got to focus one of the shots. We were sent to Ireland to experience what it’s like being on set, but we also happen to be on a set in another country which was a huge plus.”
Grace and Goliath is being produced by Cinemagic Chief Executive, Joan Burney Keatings MBE and is written by Maire Campbell (Delicate Things, Chancer, A Christmas Star). Actors include Ciara McMenamin (Paula, Saving The Titanic), Emy Aneke (The Predator and Star Trek: Beyond), Aoibhinn McGinnity (Quarry, Love/Hate) and Northern Ireland television, theatre and film actresses, Olivia Nash, Cheryl Dwyer and Jo Donnelly. The young actors include Isaac Heslip (11 years old) from Banbridge, Maitiu McGibbon (11 years old) from Lurgan and Savanna Burney Keatings (5 years old) from Moira.
Grace and Goliath is a BIG comedy with an even BIGGER heart! Californian, giant of the silver screen, Josh Jenkins (Emy Aneke), arrives in Belfast with a big ambition to make a movie, but soon his world comes crashing down in this strange city. In order to survive his fall from grace, he has no option but to take up hotel cleaner offer, to stay in her modest home, with her dysfunctional, working class family. What appears to be a soul destroying situation turns out to be the opposite, a catalyst for a new ambition, but this time the ambition is bigger than himself! This is the story of how one GOLIATH ego gets brought down by one single blow…of GRACE!
“I can’t thank you enough for the wonderful trip. Such an amazing experience to be in set and to see all the sights in Belfast. We all had such a great time. Can’t wait to see the movie. Thank you for everything.” –Camille Sosa, Jordan High School TEACHER, Watts, South LA.
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.
“Thank you all so much from the bottom of my heart. What a week! We can’t thank each of you enough for your willingness to make this a life changing opportunity for each of us. We were humbled by the people of Belfast and inspired by the kindness and hard work the cast/crew of Grace & Goliath demonstrated. Such great role models for my students to look up to.” –Michelle Bernstein, New Roads High School TEACHER.
About The Europa Hotel
The Europa Hotel is a famous hotel on Great Victoria Street in Belfast, Northern Ireland. It has hosted presidents, prime ministers and celebrities and is known as the “most bombed hotel in Europe” and the “most bombed hotel in the world” after having suffered 36 bomb attacks during the Troubles. The Titanic Quarer is home to Samson and Goliath, the twin shipbuilding gantry cranes situated at Queen’s Island. The cranes, which were named after the Biblical figures Samson and Goliath, dominate the Belfast skyline and are landmark structures of the city. The cranes are situated in the shipyard of Harland & Wolff where the Titanic was built and Titanic Quarter now hosts the world famous Titanic Belfast visitor attraction.
Grace and Goliath is due for release in early 2018. 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 and Pierce Brosnan, who share the charity’s ethos to educate, motivate and inspire by offering creative industries opportunities for young people from ALL backgrounds. Cinemagic Los Angeles has delivered workshops, masterclasses, film studio visits and industry Q&A’s since 2010.
“Thanks for having us, for providing scholarships for the students and taking them about. It was lovely visiting Belfast and seeing everyone in their own environment. My students said their favorite part was being on set and working with the crew. I know they learned a lot and made friendships”. Marlene Zuccaro, Hamilton High School TEACHER, Los Angeles.
To learn more about Cinemagic, click HERE.