FORGET Hollywood, Morpeth is the place to be for movie magic — with local pupils as the stars of the show.
Youngsters at Newminster and Chantry Middle Schools may not be listed among the Oscar nominees next week, but it may just be a matter of time for they already have two films under their belts, and a third is on the way.
The budding stars have taken part in a series of projects with Act 2 Cam film-makers to learn all about the action behind and in front of the camera.
From coming up with the ideas for their short stories in fun-packed workshops, to planning the scenes, acting, filming, directing and recording the sound, the children have seen and done it all.
And when the hard work was complete, there was of course the premiere, with a showing of their film on the big screen at Newcastle’s Tyneside Cinema.
Act 2 Cam Director Stephen Woods said: “We want to give young people the opportunity to work at professional level in film, giving them the skills and experience necessary to take them into their future careers.
“It just occurred to me that there is nothing in the North that allows children, especially of this age, to get their ideas made into some sort of concept art form like a DVD, so that’s why we started doing this.
“The children are so creative, the ideas just bounce off them.
“The film is up to them entirely, based on what they want to do. It is our job to help them craft their ideas and they come up with some amazing stuff.
“It is something the kids benefit from so much, and if they want to become an actor in the future they have something amazing for their show reel.”
The company works with youngsters aged eight to 18 across the North East and North Yorkshire.
Individual film projects from the sessions have been combined in one DVD, Such Is Life, which will be entered into film festivals worldwide, and has already won the approval of reggae star Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, who has signed a copy and allowed his music to be used.
In Morpeth, the children’s first film was about a boy whose wishes came true, but with awful consequences, and the latest piece focused on an evil teacher, Mr Sorenson.
Pupils all opted for the horror genre when coming up with their ideas.
Chantry pupil Anna Rodger, 12, said: “There was an announcement at school saying that this film was going on and it seemed quite cool so I wanted to do it.
“It was huge fun. I did 10 weeks of it, with about hour-long sessions, but it was four hours on filming day. I must have had to look down the driveway 14 times to try to get the take right.
“It was really good going to see it at the Tyneside Cinema because we got to see some of the other productions that other groups had done. I thought ours was going to be rubbish because you think you did things really badly, but when everything was put together it looked good.”
Ten-year-old Rosa Bowden, also from Chantry, said: “I took part in the running away scene and my brother Charlie did some directing. I tried other things, but I liked acting the most.”
And Sophie Mackin, 11, who attends Newminster, said: “I had the same part as Anna, looking down the driveway. Mr Sorenson was really awful and we were going to knock on his door because we had to ask for a football. When we were filming it Anna couldn’t scream so Rosa had to do it for her.”
Chantry pupil Daniel Kramer, 11, added: “I like acting and doing films and stuff. It was quite cool because all my friends think it is really cool.”
Harriot Danshin, 11, of Newminster, said: “I did some acting for the film. There was an assembly at school and when they said they were looking for people to take part it sounded really fun so I wanted to do it. I thought it was quite good and I would do lots more.”
Eleven-year-old Caroline Adams, who attends Chantry, said: “I like acting and I thought this would be fun so that’s why I decided to do it, and it was fun. I would definitely do it again.”
Newminster pupil Alfie Wilson is now a veteran star.
“I’ve done two films now and I’m going to do the third one,” he said. “I did some acting and had to run down the car park, away from the teacher.”
All of those who took part in the film have been put forward to the NE14.TV agency.
Head of School at Chantry Steven Johnson said: “I think it has been an amazing experience for the children. It has normally taken place outside of school so it has been a fantastic enrichment opportunity for them.
“They volunteered for it and there were children from Newminster and Chantry so it has been a good community initiative.
“They have been using our school building and grounds for filming, which is an amazing setting and promotes the local area as well.”
The compilation DVD of films, which runs for 80 minutes, is available to buy from Act 2 Cam for £15.
Anyone wishing to buy a copy, or take part in the next film, should email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0191 280 1345.