By Sheryl Aronson
“These kids…what I would have given at their age to have someone open my eyes to the opportunity being involved with the film industry. I didn’t start acting until my mid to late twenties, but Cinemagic has given them a good head start.” Glen Keogh, television and film actor. (Scorpion & Once Upon A Time.)
On February 16th, 2017 at the Fairmont Miramar Hotel in Santa Monica, the Annual CineMagic Gala held a spectacular event. First there was a celebrity red carpet run by the Peakeprgroup, followed by a fun filled evening of talent featuring the short film, “Chancer,” and multiple vocal performances from young people covering 18 different schools. The audience held many well- known stars such as Leslie Nicol, Jimmy jean-Louis, Finnola Flannagan, Erin Gavin, Sean Maguire, Glen Keogh and Executives and VIPs. in the Film & Music Industry. International television host, Ross King was the emcee for the evening.
Cinemagic, an award winning festival, embraces the magic of film, television, digital technologies and music, to educate, motivate and inspire young people through film screenings, industry workshops, practical masterclasses, film making projects and outreach activities.
From February 9th to the 20th, Cinemagic had youth from diverse backgrounds, from LA’s Hamilton High School, Jordan School in Watts, and Santa Monica’s New Road School participate with similar communities in Northern Ireland, producing a music video, musical theatre, critique films, participate in industry masterclasses and workshops, participate in bespoke tours to HBO, FOX, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Mattel, Aero Film, United Talent, New York Film Academy, Remote Control Studios, Variety Magazine. The young people from different communities worked together to learn how to perform and most importantly develop personal development and employability skills.
The film “Chancer” written by Marie Campbell was made in Northern Ireland just last autumn, by young filmmakers from Northern Ireland and Los Angeles with support from Creative Skillset and Panavision in Northern Ireland.
The Hollywood 360 covered the red carpet and had the opportunity to interview the Executives of Cinemagic, Joan Burney and Shauna Shivers plus a few actors from the United Kingdom that are having quite a bit of success in the entertainment industry here in Los Angeles.
The Hollywood 360: Why is your organization so critical and important in today’s world?
Joan Burney, Chief Executive of Cinemagic: When there are so many societies divided world-wide, bringing together young people from different countries in a fun environment to share and learn tolerance and acceptance with one other, is so important.
Shauna Shivers, International Executive of Cinemagic: We’re a very unique organization and one of the comments we hear often is that we have heart. Sometimes the movie business can be too commercially focused. Cinemagic goes back to the heart of everything. It’s about love and friendship and passion for film making.
The Hollywood 360: You are working with the youth so this the future generation of filmmakers.
Joan Burney: Absolutely. We work with 40,000 young people world-wide and that is in Dublin, Belfast, London, Paris, New York, and LA. We have a great ambition to grow this in the next few years. We work with young people 4-25.
The Hollywood 360: What will we be seeing this evening?
Joan Burney: You will be seeing a short film we produced called “Chancer” with young people from Ireland and LA. You will see young people perform tonight from the 18 different schools from Ireland to LA.
The Hollywood 360: What has the experience been for the kids?
Shauna Shivers: It’s been very much a driven cultural exchange which included sharing your experiences, and talking about your lifestyle. Because we work with the same schools every year, these kids come to Ireland. They are able to bring that back to their homes. It is quite unique to go to Ireland to make a movie. The Hollywood 360: What do you find the kids in LA think when they meet other kids from Ireland.
Joan Burney: You see their minds expanding. The kids love culture and diversity. They love meeting young people and connecting with them. They have such a thirst for other cultures.
The lead male character Ryan, in the short film “Chancer,” was Diarmuid Noyes. He talked with us about how he got the role and his experience with making the movie.
The Hollywood 360: Tell us about your role in the film Chancer.
Diarmuid Noyes: One of the interns of Cinemagic saw me in a music video and she thought I was right for the short movie, “Chancer.” They cast me as the lead in the movie. His name is Ryan. He just got out of prison in Belfast. He is trying to get his life together for his little girl and his girlfriend. He gets accused of stealing and things go topsy turv, then things work out.
The Hollywood 360: How was it to play this role?
Dairmuid Noyes: It was amazing. To get in with all those guys. Everyone on the set was there for the right reasons… no ego…the whole crew worked together so well…it was fun and creative. To be able to stay in that character with the Belfast accent (since I am from Dublin) and be around all the Belfast guys, was brilliant.
The Hollywood 360: Does Ryan have a realization about his life in the movie.
Dairmuid Noyes: I think Ryan learned to let things go that you don’t need any more in life. He was holding onto youth and it was time to grow up and move forward.
The Hollywood 360: Why are you an actor?
Dairmuid Noyes: I originally got into it because I wanted to go out with one of the Olsen twins…LOL. I asked my Mom to put me in acting school when I was nine and then I went through theater school.
The Hollywood 360: You are coming from a heritage of story tellers.
Dairmuid Noyes: Yes. There’s a huge amount of culture that comes from Ireland, storytelling, singing, we’re all entertainers there. It comes from back in the day where everyone sat around fires and they still do it – Stand there and sing. My Dad included. It’s nice to bring that over to LA, to give a taste of that real Ireland here.
Sean Maguire is an Irish actor who has been at his craft since he was five years old. He was very excited and happy to participate in CineMagic’s event. When a young lady named Gloria, who was one of the school’s performers, expressed to me that she would love to meet Sean Maguire, I made the introduction. Sean immediately set to talking and encouraging Gloria and her group of friends.
The Hollywood 360: What is exciting about being here tonight?
Sean Maguire: It’s exciting to be asked to participate in this nice organization. My family is from Caban and the other part of my family is from northern Ireland… one hour from Belfast. So if I am asked to do anything to promote young people, talent, and home, then I am onboard.
The Hollywod 360: How old were you when you first started acting?
Sean Maguire: I made my first film when I was five –years- old. Luckily I managed to keep working from then until now. It’s been thirty-five years in the business.
The Hollywood 360: What does it take to stay so successful when you start that young and stay relevant?
Sean Maguire: Staying relevant in of itself is difficult because you have to move and grow…there are physical elements that you can’t control. You’re either going to become a leading man or a character actor, then you have to hope someone is going to employ you. Then there is the other side of it, can you stay on that road without falling off and becoming an alcoholic or a drug addict …I just credit having very good parents that were incredible at steering me not just for my mental health, but toward the career choices I made. My Dad pulled me out of school when I was on a tv show at 14, and told me to focus on my exams. He said acting was a fickle career and you don’t know how long it will last. You are going to need an education. That wasn’t appealing to a 14- year old, but he was right. Leaving that show for another show was a good move. Sometimes making the right decisions for a child can inform the decisions for the career.
It’s like anything, if you want to make art…Don’t go for the money. Go for the Art. Keep on the straight and narrow. Get the child’s education right, make sure as a parent, you’re involved in their life, keep an eye on their friends and the talent hopefully can blossom from there.
The Hollywood 360: What is the difference between being an actor in your home country and as opposed to LA?
Sean Maguire: Here’s the big stage. Like a boxer you strap around hoping to get your name big enough. This is the big time. These young people tonight come out here and do the red carpet and be interviewed…it’s a taste of what is hopefully to come for them. Hopefully they can enjoy it and take it in their stride and not have them knock them off the road.
Acting is acting. I’ve loved the crew of everything I’ve ever done. The mechanics are the same with acting. But here there’s so much more money. LOL. In England you’re not going to your trailer when you are not on set, you’re going to the caravan with three other actors. Here you actually get the trailer and have a chair with your name on it. It blows your mind when you are a young actor.
The Hollywood 360: Talk about your role in Once Upon A Time as Robin Hood.
Sean Maguire: It’s been a lovely gift as a role and introduced me to all sorts of people I would have never met. The cast and crew, I adore. There are very clever writers and the concept was a bit of a stroke of genius. Now they are enjoying their sixth season and with this tv landscape, it’s hard to do.
Erin Gavin, Scottish born actress, has been participating in the Annual Cinemagic Gala for many years. Recently she played the role of Marilyn Monroe in two different theater productions, Marilyn- My Secret and Marilyn & Sinatra.
The Hollywood 360: What does it mean to you being here tonight?
Erin Gavin: I just got back from Belfast , that’s where my grandparents are from and that’s where this charity is. It’s an amazing charity. It does a lot for young individuals. It brings a lot of confidence in the Arts by bringing all the people together. Helping others and making it happen. That’s what Cinemagic is all about.
The Hollywood 360: What are you up to now in your career?
Erin Gavin: I got a film in NY. I’m playing a Scottish person and I’m doing another film in London later on in the year.
The Hollywood 360: What do you think are the differences in the acting field between Europe and LA?
Erin Gavin: There are a lot more films and television shows going on and casted out of LA. There is so much opportunity here. I just did a photo shoot with Jessica Simpson’s dad, Joe Simpson. He does Pop Up Art so he shot me as the modern Marilyn, which will soon be out in the art galleries.
I am happy to be here. Joan and Shauna are amazing and the work they are doing for the young kids in the entertainment industry.
Glen Keogh, Irish born actor can now be seen on the television show, Scorpion and Once Upon A Time. His acting career began in Australia when he was in his twenties.
The Hollywood 360: Talk about being here tonight and what it means to you.
Glen Keogh: I’m from the South of Dublin. I have a great respect for what they are doing here. I know Joan, the organizer quite well, she’s doing a brilliant job. I was here last year. What an opportunity for the kids, for the youth to visit each other countries and see how the other half live and open doors to a more expansive understanding.
The Hollywood 360: Talk about your career. Were you a child actor?
Glen Keogh: I wasn’t. I was an accountant before I started acting. I quit that and moved to Australia then started to act. I was working in the corporate world then started to act part time, went to the university, graduated with a degree in film and television. Then I had an eye on the US, so I worked as an actor in Australia tfor sometime then won a green card to work here. I came here about ten years ago and became a US citizen. Started to gradually work, touch waters…I’ve been working.
The Hollywood 360: Now you’re on a few television shows.
Glen Keogh: I’m on Scorpion and I play the father of the lead character Walter O’Brien which is based on a true character. Walter O’Brien was a genius and was clocked as having the fifth highest IQ when he was sixteen years old, So they based the show on his life. I’m on the show a few times each season. It has a terrific viewership, and is a very exciting show.
The Hollywood 360: Do you use your accent on the show?
Glen Keogh: Yes. They wanted someone authentic.
The Hollywood 360: What else have you’ve been acting on?
Glen Keogh: Once Upon a Time. I play the King of Scotland on that show. King Fergus. I just wrapped on NCIS late last year. I play a typical Irish gangster on that. There’s a few projects in the pipeline. I’ve been out for a few pilots this year. Hoping to pick one up. It’s going well for me. I’m enjoying it. I work hard and I’m thrilled to be here. These kids…what I would have given at their age to have someone open my eyes to the opportunity being involved with the film industry. I didn’t start acting until my mid to late twenties, but Cinemagic has given them a good head start.
All the guests were treated to a scrumptious buffet and drinks were provided by Deep Eddy Vodka, Honest Tea, Hint water and Mulberry Love. Soon everyone was ushered into the ball room to view the evening’s festivities. Television host, Ross King began with a monologue that had the audience in stiches with his off- beat humor. A film clip was shown about Cinemagic’s origins and progress, where film stars such as Pierce Brosnan and Liam Nesson shared their involvement in the organization. Musical performances by the kids filled the auditorium with uplifting music and dance. The song “Colors of the Soul” was done with lovely feeling. The short film, “Chancer” provided an inspiring tale of a young man who was able to turn his life around after being imprisoned. The story was captivating which was made all the better by the superb acting.
The 8th Annual Cinemagic Gala succeeded in showing everyone why the organization has given the young people involved a true heads up in the entertainment industry. As one of the teachers who is at the Jordan School in Watts expressed the sentiment so beautifully, “Tonight is so extraordinary because some of these children have never even traveled out of Watts to Santa Monica, let alone get the opportunity to participate in all the great activities in LA during Cinemagic week. This experience is truly inspiring for all involved.”
Photo Credit: Sheryl Aronson/ The Hollywood 360 (unless otherwise noted)