IT was during a shopping trip in Belfast where Portadown teenager, Chloe Wilson, happened to pick up a booklet about Cinemagic - the Belfast film festival. Interested in getting involved, she signed up for a couple of workshops. Little did she know that nearly three years later that she would be on a film set with some of Hollywood’s biggest players behind the camera.
The 18-year-old, who has recently graduated from Southern Regional College, helped ensure everything ran smoothly on the set of ‘The Mantle’ - a short film shot at various locations across Northern Ireland’s north coast.
The film, part of Cinemagic’s annual international film camp, brought together not only Chloe but 16 other young film enthusiasts from all over the country by giving them the opportunity to work with a number of Hollywood professionals.
Those who helped mentor Chloe and her peers were director Michael Lennox, Face/Off director of photography, Ian Fox, whose credits also include The Amazing Spider-Man and filmmaker Mark Jordon.
The former Portadown College student, who is planning on continuing her education in September at the Belfast Metropolitan College, says it was an “absolutely amazing” experience to work with the professionals.
“On set I suppose I acted as a PA (personal assistant). I had to make sure props were on the set, people were where they should be and that the director had his script. I’m interested in pursuing a career in the film industry but I had always thought until now, that I would have to move to England or Scotland to do it. But to know that we’ve got (schemes) like this on our doorstep is unreal.”
The film shoot, which took place in Ballycastle, Ballymoney, Castleroe and Coleraine, has also shaped her career ambitions. “I’m a member of the Gateway Theatre Group and I always thought that I wanted to be in front of the screen but now I’d definitely consider working behind the scenes,” she said.
The teenager is now anticipating the premiere of ‘The Mantle’, which tells the story of a young man called John and how he copes when his father suffers an accident on the family farm. The movie will not only receive its premiere at the Cinemagic festival in the autumn, but will be screened in Dublin, New York and Los Angeles.
“I loved working with everybody and I think (the professionals) were genuinely impressed by how we all worked. Ian Fox was one of the most down-to-earth guys you’ll ever meet. They were all so happy to answer any questions and they wanted to motivate everyone. It definitely has left an impression. They even signed my film script which was really, really nice of them.
“I’d also like to thank Joan and Shauna from Cinemagic who did an amazing job in putting the whole week together and without their hard work, dedication and commitment. If anyone out there is thinking that they want to become a film maker or get involved in this industry, but they don’t think they would be up to it or that they wouldn’t be any good, just go for it and get involved in the likes of Cinemagic, because from my experiences with them, you definitely will not regret it!”