It’s showtime for kids’ movie in Chicago Heights
BY CASEY TONER email@example.com August 14, 2013 4:50PM
"Rise Up" cinematographer Neal McGee poses with a framed shot of the title sequence of the film he shot and edited in conjunction with the Bethel Community Facility Performing Arts Camp. | Casey Toner~Sun-Times Media
Updated: September 17, 2013 7:51AM
Coming soon — Thursday in fact — to a big screen near you, if you live in or near Chicago Heights: a full-length, feature film put together by the boys and girls of the Bethel Community Facility Performing Arts Camp.
Their film, “Rise Up,” is set to screen in three theaters at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Marcus Chicago Heights Cinema, 1301 Hilltop Ave. There will be a red-carpet event, complete with “paparazzi” photographers, starting at 6 p.m. and a documentary about the film at 6:30 p.m.
A total of 82 local children ages 6 to 18 worked on all aspects of the film — directing, acting, singing, dancing, lighting, editing, blocking — from mid-June to the beginning of August.
Tonii Harris-Taylor, Bethel Community Facility program director, wrote the screenplay, which addresses teen bullying. The camp adapted the film from a stage play it produced in 2010.
“Bullying is addressed in an entertaining kind of way,” Harris-Taylor said. “After the audience laughs and giggles, they think about issues with our young people in schools.”
The movie, which is 1 hour and 45 minutes long, was filmed in a variety of south suburban locations during the last two weeks of July. Children at the camp spent most of their time learning their lines and prepping for the shoot itself, which features dance and musical numbers to complement the drama.
“I think it does awaken a lot of the hidden talents in our youth,” Harris-Taylor said.
Last year, the camp made the film “A Tale of Two Families,” which contrasted the life of living with a parent who cares vs. the life of living with a parent who does not.
Prior to last year, the camp, which started in 2007, had spent its energies putting on plays.
University Park resident Neal McGee, the film’s cinematographer and a student at the Illinois Institute of Art in Chicago, called the filming of the movie the best time he has ever had outside of the real world.
“I hope a lot of people enjoy this,” McGee said. “I put a lot of time into it but I hope we get the remarks and proper attitudes and feedback we are looking for in the film.”
McGee said he was a “one-man band” when it came to shooting and editing the movie. Shareeta Jo directed the film.
“It’s been a great deal of work to be honest but I’ve enjoyed it for the most part,” McGee said. “I have to say it has been a blast.”