Kids film fest brings Hollywood to Skokie
Bailey Kapel holds the slate while Kevin Johnson and Darshan Bhatt wait for action while filming “Power of the Youth.”
The Skokie Kids Film Festival:
An Evening with the Stars
Gorilla Tango’s Skokie Theatre, 7924 Lincoln Ave., Skokie
5 p.m. Sept. 22 and 23
Admission is $12
(773) 598-4549 or visit www.gorillatango.com
Updated: October 21, 2012 1:57PM
No one’s going to think they’re too old.
Hollywood worships youth, and the young actors, directors, screenwriters, camera operators and sound specialists of the Skokie Kids Film Festival certainly have that on their side if they decide to head off to Hollywood after their cinematic debut.
Fourteen kids ages 6 to 14 got together for the first (possibly annual) Skokie Kids Film Fest, produced by Gorilla Tango Theatre and directed by Jessica Alldredge of Chicago. Splitting into three groups, they made three original short films. The 10-minute productions will be given the red-carpet treatment at showcase screenings Sept. 22 and 23, with two kids emceeing and everyone dressed to kill.
“They really did great job,” said Alldredge, who led a similar project in a Montessori school in her native Birmingham before pitching the festival to Gorilla Tango as part of the company’s children’s programming. “Everything had to be done quickly because school started smack in the middle of the time we had open for this project. I asked them all to write their scripts in our first three-hour session — and two of the groups finished early.
“It was pretty amazing. Five kids who had never met each other before, getting together at a table to come up with a story they all could agree on and get it down on paper. I suspect most adults couldn’t do that.”
As a result, these three films will be making their world premieres this weekend at Gorilla Tango.
“Power of the Youth”: When some street kids who must steal food to survive are arrested (by a real Skokie police officer), it’s up to their friends to help them escape. Adrian Acosta of Skokie, Steffan Argus of Des Plaines, Darshan Bhatt of Hoffman Estates, Laura Bretan of Skokie and Kevin Johnson of Hoffman Estates co-wrote and co-starred in the drama. Noelle and Kendall Nelson of Roselle directed and assistant-directed.
“The Secret of the Crystal”: A team of robot-assisted spies attempt to return a little girl’s magical crystal from a villainous double-agent. Alexis Frenkel of Orland Park, Ada Grey of Chicago and Elija Kelly of Capron co-wrote and co-starred in the espionage adventure. Laura Bretan directed.
“The Scary Sleepover”: On their way to a sleepover party, six little girls accept a drink from a mysterious old woman (Kids, don’t try this at home!) then find themselves being menaced in magical lands. Kennedi Drew of Oak Lawn, Harmony Elise Jones of Chicago, Bailey Kapel of Chicago, Kendall and Noelle Nelson of Roselle and Daniel Scimeca of Park Ridge co-wrote and co-starred in the fantasy adventure. Alexis Frenkel directed.
After completing their scripts, the groups moved on to rehearsals and then production, some acting, some directing, some running the camera, some working sound, with Alldredge supervising but doing her best to stay in the background.
“It was so much fun to see them in action,” she said, noting that they worked with natural lighting and minimal equipment including a camera, a microphone, a tripod and a slate borrowed from filmmaker friends. “An 11-year-old screams ‘Quiet on set!’ and everyone gets quiet and gets down to business. I was surprised at how much they knew. They were so serious, but they also seemed to be having a great time.”
Indeed they did, according to the acting/writing/directing Nelson sisters of Roselle.
“I liked the acting part because I love to be the center of attention,” laughed 9-year-old Kendall, who co-wrote and co-starred in “Scary Sleepover” and assistant-directed “Power of the Youth.”
“I found it fascinatingly fun,” said 11-year-old commercial actress Noelle, who also co-wrote and co-starred in “The Scary Sleepover” and directed “Power of the Youth.” “I’ve always wanted to direct but usually only adults do that.
“I think we’re all going to be proud of ourselves when we see our movies on the big screen, because we did this ourselves, from scratch.” ~.