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Lights, Camera, Action For ‘A Christmas Star’ Young Trainee Crew

Posted on 04th November 2014 | Cinemagic News

40 trainee filmmakers begin pre-production this week on a unique Cinemagic educational film project involving hundreds of young people, both in front of and behind the camera. A Christmas Star is a ground-breaking Northern Ireland feature film, the first of its kind, to be made by Cinemagic. 

A host of film and television professionals, including Oscar®, BAFTA and Tony Award winners, will take a break from their own shooting schedules to mentor the trainees. The project marks the beginning of a year of Cinemagic’s 25th Anniversary celebrations and promises to be a truly life-changing opportunity for its young cast and crew.

Cinemagic Chief Executive, Joan Burney Keatings, MBE said: “Our Christmas feature film will bring young people from different cultural backgrounds together, and representatives from the worlds of film, television and music will collaborate to celebrate creativity and highlight the importance of developing young people’s skills and offering them unique film and television related opportunities.

“The industry professionals will mentor the young cast and crew throughout the film production process from script to screen, giving invaluable insights to the world of filmmaking across various film disciplines ranging from directing, acting and production to script editing, film composition, and costume/makeup.

“The young people will finish the project with a wealth of skills, experience, and, most importantly, their first credit on a feature film.”

An intensive training programme leading up to the start of pre-production, where the 40 young filmmakers learned how to do everything from scheduling and budgeting to film financing and distribution, has been made possible through support from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Now they have just two weeks to put their new skills to the test as they scout locations, source props and plan camera shots before filming begins on 15 November.

Among those involved in the production are Cinemagic patron Liam Neeson who will provide the film’s voiceover, Bronagh Waugh (The Fall) and Suranne Jones (Scott & Bailey, The Crimson Field), Oscar winning film producer, Gareth Ellis Unwin (The King’s Speech), director Richard Elson (M.I. High, Shadow Trade, Steffi), award winning film composer, Patrick Doyle, (Brave, Rise of the Planet of the Apes), Music Supervisor, Maggie Rodford, (The King’s Speech, Anna Karenina), camera operator, Ian Fox, (Captain America: The Winter Soldier, The Amazing Spider-Man), producer, Iain Smith, (Children of Men, Mad Max: Fury Road), and production manager, Terry Bamber (The Man from U.N.C.L.E, Skyfall).

Gareth Ellis-Unwin, Oscar-winning producer of The King’s Speech and a Cinemagic mentor said:

"It's a pleasure to be involved with Cinemagic’s first ever feature film, 'A Christmas Star'. Interest in film and television production in Northern Ireland is at an all time high, and I'm very much looking forward to mentoring some of the trainee crew who already display so much passion and talent for film. ‘A Christmas Star’ is a fantastic opportunity for the trainees and will help to kick start the careers of Northern Ireland’s future film crews."

Production Unit trainee Rebecca Kelly, 21, from Warrenpoint said:

“There is no better way to learn this trade than being on set, and being trained by the top industry professionals from the UK, Ireland and from further afield can help us achieve the careers we all are hoping for. The opportunities and training it will offer all of us is invaluable, and we're all very lucky to have this opportunity. I cannot put into words how anxious and excited I am for this project and everything to follow!”

Also on the production team is Philip McGonigle, 21, from Co. Donegal who said:

“Hopefully once I leave this project I will feel confident to apply for production jobs and begin a successful career in the industry here in Northern Ireland or even worldwide. I can't wait to meet the cast and get to know all the crew and hopefully make friends for life and memories that we will never forget.”

Filming of A Christmas Star will take place on location around Belfast and Glenarm and the film will be screened by BBC NI and UTV simultaneously at Christmas time in 2015, further reaching a global audience through Cinemagic in the USA, Great Britain and Ireland.

The project is supported by OFMDFM, Creative Skillset, Tourism Ireland, Aer Lingus, BBC NI, UTV, Department for Social Development, Northern Ireland Tourist Board, George Best Belfast City Airport and Arts & Business Northern Ireland. The remaining finance for A Christmas Star will be sourced through a crowd-funding campaign that will offer perks from signed scripts and crew T-shirts to a walk-on role in the film. Find out more at www.indiegogo.com.

For further details on A Christmas Star  search for the film on facebook and twitter.  


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Press Information

For further information, contact Richard Gaston 07903 085533 or richard@cinemagic.org.uk

Cinemagic Patrons

  • Liam Neeson
  • Pierce Brosnan
  • Dermot O‚ÄôLeary
  • Terry George
  • Brian Cox
  • Lisa Henson
  • Suranne Jones
  • Julian Fellowes
  • Christine Bleakley
  • Seamus McGarvey
  • Ciaran McMenamin
  • Colin Farrell
  • Patrick Bergin
  • Ros Hubbard
  • John Hubbard
  • Gary Knell
  • Rachel Kavanagh
  • Aidan Power
  • Mark Huffam
  • Saoirse Ronan
  • Craig Doyle
  • Robbie Sheehan
  • Bruce Reynolds
  • Marc Mallett
  • Bronagh Waugh