A budding filmmaker from Co Antrim will see her script transferred from the page to the big screen this summer after her work was selected by the British Film Institute.
Zoe Magee is currently completing her A-levels at Glengormley High School and is already making a name for herself in Northern Ireland’s burgeoning film industry after a screenplay she wrote was selected for a short film.
The 17-year-old Chief Prefect, who is working towards her A-levels in Media Studies, Business Studies and English Literature, will have the opportunity to present her work at a Belfast cinema later this year.
Speaking to Belfast Live, Zoe said: “I was just looking for film courses for university and saw that the British Film Institute (BFI) is offering a film production course so I applied for it – I had to do an interview and I jumped in.
“They asked the people in the group to write a script and whoever they liked the best was chosen, and mine was chosen.
“From there we went to Lorne House in Holywood and filmed it and it will be shown in the Oydessey for a day in May.”
Zoe was one of ten people selected for the course and the only student whose work was selected for a short film.
“The script’s brief for everyone was based on something personal, and the only thing I really knew personally at the time was grief.
“My film is based on grief and trying to accept that someone left, and I think because it fit the brief so well and was emotionally connected that they took it on,” she explained.
Zoe said it was “crazy” to see the words she wrote from her own experience transformed from a script into a screen.
“It feels so strange because I had never written a screenplay before and when we were asked to do it I had to watch youtube videos on how to write one and it was just crazy to see the actors speaking lines that I wrote – it was just crazy, a good crazy,” she laughed.
“There were other people in the class and if they weren’t chosen to do the script they could apply to direct, so I had to go down and get my creative input, and they allowed me to say a lot if the film went my way.
“It was my first time on a film set so it was a really good experience too, so if I want to go down that path of writing and filming. I had so much fun meeting new people and learning new things being on a film set and I feel like I got a lot of new ideas from it as well.
The teenager says the whole experience “doesn’t feel real” and the thrill of having her work selected by such a prestigious institution won’t sink in until she sees the finished product on the big screen.
She added: “I’m really looking forward to all my family coming down and watching it – I’m nervous but I’m also excited to see it and after seeing it being filmed I see how everything is put together.
“I’m going to do a gap year next year and then apply to be a runner for various TV shows or films that are being made here because the film industry is growing so fast in Northern Ireland that there will be lots of opportunities for young filmmakers and people who want to commit to it.
“Hopefully after that maybe I’ll go to Ulster University to study cinematic arts.”
Louise Fox, Senior Teacher at Glengormley High School, shared how proud the entire school community is of Zoe and her achievement.
She said: “We are very proud of Zoe at school. She actually tried to keep things quiet for a while until I got wind of it.
“She’s always had a flair for writing and I’ve been her English teacher for four years and she’s always been a natural – she had such originality with her ideas and was very emotional so it wasn’t a surprise that it came to that her screenplay writing.
“She’s also on the way to great results in her media studies because she’s always had this interest in the area, so we’re very fortunate and privileged to have her at Glengormley High School. She’s always been a big part of that school community too.”