Matt McDowell is leading the Hollywood Spotlight film collective, where participants will learn to write, act and direct a short film in nine months. (Photo submitted)

Lights. Camera. Action

Learn all the aspects of moving making

A new film collective led by Matt McDowell puts aspiring filmmakers in the writer, actor and and cameraman’s chair to make a short film.

Aspiring filmmakers or performers who have always wanted to make a movie can take part in a new and exciting opportunity, starting this month in Vernon.

Award winning writer/director Matt McDowell is leading a unique and creative nine-month experience, where participants 14-and-up can experience filmmaking from behind and in front of the camera. Participants will collaborate to write, act, and produce a short film. The Hollywood Spotlight film collective is a joint production of Center Stage Performing Arts Academy and the Okanagan Screen Arts.

“This filmmaking collective is for anyone who ever dreamed or thought or wished they could make a movie,” said McDowell. “I want to bring the joy and fun of amateur local theatre to filmmaking. We’re even planning on having a special red-carpet screening and reception when we’re done. There’s nothing more magical than seeing your movie up on the big screen.”

Participants will learn the fundamentals of screenwriting, including proper screenwriting format and engage in an actual writer’s room-type creative environment. Collective members will use the fundamentals of cinematic storytelling to write compelling scenes, create dynamic characters, and plan and execute powerful cinematic sequences.

The collective will also learn basic, and not so basic, techniques of filmmaking, including cinematography, lighting, production sound, acting for the screen, directing actors, shot selection, production management, location management, editing, filmmaking theory and film history.

“Maybe you’ve done some local theatre or maybe you tried to make a movie when you were younger, or maybe you’ve always just dreamed about making a movie. The Hollywood Spotlight film collective is the place for you,” said McDowell. “We’re going to start out by writing, acting, and producing a short film. It’s never too late put yourself into a position to be creative and to create magic.”

McDowell is the creator/writer/director of the TV pilot La Fontaine, which won the Best Drama award at the Banff Media Festival Pilot competition and was nominated for Best Writer and Best Drama in the International Television Festival in Los Angeles.

He co-wrote the pilot script, Carver Brothers, a one-hour drama for CBS with Robert De Niro’s Tribeca Films and Spelling Entertainment as producers. His short film, Waiting, was nominated for best screenplay and best short film at the Sacramento International Film Festival. He also wrote Primary Suspect, a feature-length film starring William Baldwin, Brigitte Bako and Lee Majors.

McDowell has an MFA in creative writing from the University of British Columbia and a BFA in Motion Picture/TV from UCLA. While at UCLA, he wrote and co-directed the underground cult feature, Sheila and the Brainstem, which will have an exclusive screening at the Vernon Towne Cinema Monday, Oct. 2 at 7:30 p.m.

Those interested in learning more about the Hollywood Spotlight film collective are encouraged to attend a free open house Wednesday, Sept. 20 at 6:30 p.m. at Center Stage Performing Arts Academy, located at 1935 11th Ave.