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Red carpet treatment for young filmmakers at Rhyl secondary school

Pupils attended the premiere of their own film after working with some of the industry’s biggest names.

Students at Rhyl’s Blessed Edward Jones Catholic High School wrote, filmed and starred in their own short film Fight or Flight with the help of Paul Higginson, Executive Vice President EMEA for Twentieth Century Fox and BAFTA award-winning English television and film scriptwriter, Jimmy McGovern.

The project was part of Denbighshire County Council’s Curriculum Enrichment initiative’s work to support young people and enrich their learning and was produced in partnership with Colwyn Bay-based Tape Community Music and Film.

Fight or Flight, which deals with issues of self-esteem, body image and social media, was filmed in the school, with pupils taking on all roles in the production, with the premiere held at the school on Friday, July 12.

Rhyl actor Spencer Wilding, who played Darth Vader in Rogue One and has appeared in a host of Hollywood blockbusters including Guardians of the Galaxy, Batman Begins and Men in Black: International, also attended the premiere and spoke to pupils.

Interim headteacher Mark Cohen said: “It was fantastic to see the students’ hard work pay off with the premiere of Fight or Flight. Our students relished the opportunity to put themselves outside their comfort zone. Having professionals work with our students has extended their skills and experiences, boosting their confidence and self-belief, opening their minds to future career possibilities in the film industry.”

The filmmaking process started in November 2017, when a scriptwriting masterclass was held for Denbighshire secondary students with Mr McGovern, writer of Brookside, Cracker, Hillsborough, The Street, The Lakes and award-winning films, Priest and Liam.

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In January 2019, Paul Higginson, who has worked on a number of blockbuster films, including 1997’s Titanic, and was responsible for bringing the premiere of the Jim Carrey comedy Me, Myself and Irene to Rhyl in 2000, returned to his former school to launch the project and speak to pupils about the film industry.

Cllr Huw Hilditch-Roberts the Council’s Lead Member for Education, Children’s Services and Public Engagement, said: “I would like to congratulate all the pupils who have taken part in this project and thank all those who have been involved.

“This has provided a great opportunity for Denbighshire pupils to learn from some of the best in the business and use their own creativity. Supporting young people to achieve their potential is a priority for the Council and projects like this help us accomplish that.”

Funding for the filmmaking project was awarded by the Thomas Howell’s Education Fund for North Wales.

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