The LA Ghetto Film School (GFS) branch can brag about some notable active supporters, David O. Russell, Chris Tucker, and Max Greenfield all attended a screening and Q&A led by Larry Wilmore Monday night at the Paley Center, but the Hollywood celebrities were not the ones being honored. Instead, the spotlight fell on four remarkable high school students, already set to take the industry by storm.
Writer Gillian Lyons, director Niko Baur, cinematographer Eugene Ko, and production designer Joyous Herron joined Larry Wilmore for a panel discussion following the US premiere of their film, Ghost of a Chance, which Baur, Ko, and Herron shot in London during summer 2016.
The project was born over a year ago as a thesis project through the GFS LA Fellows Program; a two-year program that educates roughly 71 teens aged 13-19 in the art and creation of film production. Lyon’s original short, Ghost of a Chance, was peer-selected out of the 14 scripts pitched and went on to film on location with the help of crew, each position (Director, DP, Script Supervisor/Editor, AD, Gaffer, AC, Sound, and Production Assistant/Production Designer) was also pitched for and filled by students in the program.
“You know, film is a funny thing because you’ve got years sometimes of work behind the scenes, like student plugging away years of planning and training and building, and you’ve got this one moment where everyone gets to see it,” said Stosh Mintek, GFS LA Executive Director, “It’s like the tip of the iceberg popping up.”
And the students’ work popped up with quite a splash. Ghost of a Chance is a slightly paranormal comedy telling the tale of a modern-day director bent on making his fortune through bringing to life a lost work of William Shakespeare; he had the good fortune of accidentally finding. This is to the great dismay of Shakespeare’s spirit who takes it upon himself to haunt the production, thus pulling the current back on some of the more selfish aspects of the industry.
“It’s very nice for it to finally come full circle,” said Director Niko Baur, “It’s been a little under a year that we’ve been editing, I’ve seen it a million times and it’s nice to see it on a huge screen, in front of other people and I’m glad to hear that other people enjoyed it, which is huge.”
It’s hardly a surprise that the film was a success after all the production had an all-star mentor team lending their experience during a table read. The crew met at Brett Ratner’s home and got the opinions and advice of Ratner, David O. Russell, Lee Daniels and Max Greenfield. Many would think that such a high-stakes meeting would be daunting for most 18-year olds, but according to New Girl’s Max Greenfield, Lyons put the “pro” in production.
With the GFS able to brag about over 250 graduates working full-time in the industry, it’s not hard to believe that the panel of teenagers debuting their work Monday night will soon be among the program’s success stories.