Movies star­ring lo­cals pre­miere

Kids’ short films shown at Main Street Movies 5

Newark Post - - FRONT PAGE - By JOSH SHANNON jshan­non@ches­pub.com

While Hol­ly­wood block­busters head­lined by Bradley Cooper, Lady Gaga and Ryan Gosling played in the smaller the­aters at Main Street Movies 5, it was a group of lo­cal kids who were the big­gest stars Sun­day night dur­ing a spe­cial onenight-only show­ing.

The 80 kids had par­tic­i­pated in week­long sum­mer camps held by Ne­wark­based GEM Stu­dios, where they filmed, di­rected and starred in their own short films. Those films de­buted on the big screen Sun­day night and drew a sold-out crowd of fam­ily mem­bers and friends.

“It was cool,” 13-year-old Larissa Heather said, de­scrib­ing the feel­ing of see­ing her­self on a real movie screen. “I never thought I’d see that.”

That’s just the re­ac­tion that GEM Stu­dio owner Lee Irv­ing hoped for.

“It’s phe­nom­e­nal. Hope­fully this is a life­long mem­ory for these kids,” said Irv­ing, a pro­fes­sional ac­tor whose cred­its in­clude parts in “Fri­day Night Lights,” “Walker, Texas Ranger” and “A House Di­vided.”

GEM Stu­dios opened on Main Street in 2008 and moved to its cur­rent lo­ca­tion in Fair­field Shop­ping Cen­ter in 2011. The busi­ness of­fers act­ing classes for kids, teens and adults.

The sum­mer movie camps started in 2011, but this is only the sec­ond year the kids’ work has been shown on the big screen.

On Sun­day, the kids dressed in for­mal at­tire and posed for pho­tos be­fore the movie pre­miere. Af­ter each of the eight movies were screened, Irv­ing called the stars to the front of the the­ater to talk about their ex­pe­ri­ences act­ing in and pro­duc­ing the films.

“It was great as an aspir­ing di­rec­tor to use real equip­ment,” Alex Toth, 13, said. “Ev­ery­body was so wel­com­ing. Lee was great. It was great to talk to him and get his ad­vice.”

Owen Ken­dall, 11, said the camp helped him in his goal of be­com­ing a pro­fes­sional ac­tor.

“It was very fun,” he said. “I like how they let us use the equip­ment. I feel like I got a lot of skills from it.”

Friends Sa­van­nah Gross and Is­abella Doyle agreed.

“It was the high­light of our sum­mer,” Sa­van­nah, 12, said.

“The peo­ple who run the camp are re­ally nice peo­ple,” Is­abella, 13, added.

Grace Wal­ton, 15, is in her sec­ond year par­tic­i­pat­ing in the camp and said that while she en­joyed the ex­pe­ri­ence, it’s awk­ward to see her­self on the big screen.

“I have to cri­tique my­self for the act­ing,” she said, be­fore con­ced­ing, “I don’t think I did too ter­ri­ble this time. I think I im­proved.”

An­gelina Wise, 9, liked see­ing how the movie came to­gether.

“She was re­ally ex­cited for to­day,” her mom, An­gela, said. “She couldn’t wait for it.”

Laura Whip­ple en­joyed watch­ing her kids, 8-year-old Kea­gan Short and 5-year-old Ser­raphim Short, find­ing their iden­tity and com­ing our of their shells through act­ing.

“It was ab­so­lutely amaz­ing,” she said.

Larissa Heather, Sa­van­nah Gross, Is­abella Doyle and Annabelle Irv­ing pose be­fore the pre­miere of their GEM Stu­dios short films at Main Street Movies 5 on Sun­day.

NE­WARK POST PHO­TOS BY JOSH SHANNON

Alex Toth and Grace Wal­ton pose be­fore the pre­miere of their GEM Stu­dios short films at Main Street Movies 5 on Sun­day.

Is­abella Doyle speaks to the crowd dur­ing the pre­miere of her GEM Stu­dios short film at Main Street Movies 5 on Sun­day. She’s hold­ing her “co-star,” a spoon that dou­bled as her char­ac­ter’s imag­i­nary friend.

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