Young Filmmakers Call 'Action' on Second Cinemagic Feature

With scenes shot at Windsor Park and on the North Coast, Grace and Goliath follows the success of 2015's festive production A Christmas Star

Work has started in Belfast on the second feature-length production from Cinemagic, Northern Ireland's film organisation for young people. Grace and Goliath will give 37 trainee filmmakers aged 18-25 the chance to earn their first feature credit and learn from industry professionals including director Tony Mitchell (The Bible, Primeval, and Flood) and actors Ciarán McMenamin (Paula, Saving The Titanic), Emy Aneke (The Predator and Star Trek: Beyond) and Aoibhinn McGinnity (Quarry, Love/Hate).

Joining the cast are young actors Isaac Heslip (11) from Banbridge, Maitiu McGibbon (11) from Lurgan and Savanna Burney Keatings (5) from Moira, along with Northern Ireland television, theatre and film actresses, Olivia Nash, Cheryl O’Dwyer and Jo Donnelly.

Described as 'a big comedy with an even bigger heart', the film is produced by Cinemagic Chief Executive, Joan Burney Keatings MBE and written by Maire Campbell (Delicate Things, Chancer, A Christmas Star).

As with Cinemagic's first feature, A Christmas Star (2015), which was also the first children's Christmas film produced anywhere in Ireland, Grace and Goliath will give young filmmakers the opportunity to develop their talents and skills across disciplines such as directing, production, costume and make-up, sound, lighting and music composition.

Previous trainees have used their experience with Cinemagic to secure work with various film and television companies in the last two years including BBC, HBO, Disney, Sky Atlantic, RTE, and Bedlam Productions.

Those involved with Grace and Goliath will be joined by 10 young students from Los Angeles, from Cinemagic partner schools based there who have participated in Cinemagic LA Festival activity over the last eight years. Filming is taking place throughout June in Belfast and on the North Coast, including scenes at Odyssey Pavilion and the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park.

Joan Burney Keatings MBE, Cinemagic Chief Executive, said: 'We are delighted to be embarking on Cinemagic’s second feature film, and with support from Department for Communities, Creative Skillset, Panavision, Yellowmoon, Tourism Ireland, Belfast City Council and George Best Belfast City Airport we are able to offer hands-on training to develop young people’s talents and skills in filmmaking. The project will unite young people from diverse cultural backgrounds and allow them to work on a common goal. We have a brilliant crew on board including a past Cinemagic Festival participant, Aidan Gault, our director of photography on the film, and it’s fantastic to see so many creative people working together to inspire young people.'

Lisa Howe, Film Manager, Creative Skillset, added: 'Supporting the growth of the film industry by encouraging aspiring young filmmakers from across the UK into a range of disciplines is a key aim for Creative Skillset. As such, we are delighted to support Cinemagic’s Belfast-based production with an embedded training initiative, led by industry professionals.'

Councillor Mairead O’Donnell, newly appointed Chairperson of Belfast City Council’s City Growth and Regeneration Committee, said: 'The creative industries are vital to the future economic success and competitiveness of Belfast on the international stage. The city’s reputation for its creativity is growing rapidly, as evidenced by the success of the likes of Game of Thrones. The Council is fully committed to nurturing and growing our creative economy, and therefore is delighted to support this initiative, which in turn will help to develop the new talent needed to drive this growth.'

Actor Ciarán McMenamin meanwhile recently spoke to Culture NI ahead of his appearance at the Belfast Book Festival, revealing his thoughts on debut novel Skintown being adapted for screen by Dublin’s Blinder Films.

'I didn’t have any idea the book could be a film,' he said. 'I think I kind of had a barrier up about that in case people thought that was what I’d intended. It will be amazing though. I think it’s a wonderfully Northern Irish thing. I’m really proud of that and am intrigued to find the young people to play those roles and to try and get that comic sense in it.' Read the full feature here.