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By Film Threat Staff | July 5, 2001

In cooperation with Healthy Boy Productions, a cast of Hollywood entertainment industry veterans came together in Hollywood to produce, direct and edit the “HOLA Film Project,” five films written by at-risk adolescent boys. The series of shorts will be featured on KCET Channel 26, Los Angeles’ award-winning PBS affiliate, in an hour-long presentation Sunday, July 8th at 7:00pm.
The inner-city youth involved were all participants in Heart of Los Angeles Youth (HOLA), a community center located in LA’s Rampart district, a low-income area known for its high crime and juvenile gang activity. Healthy Boy Productions partnered with Universal Studios, Paramount Pictures, New Line Cinema, Eastman Kodak, Panavision Cameras, and others to “create a roving film studio that seeks out new stories from overlooked communities,” explained Jeff Van Hanken founder of Healthy Boy Productions and producer of the project.
The resulting films caught the attention of Los Angeles television personality Huell Howser, creator of the long-running PBS series California’s Gold. “We receive more than 100 story ideas each week,” said Howser. “This one stood out. The location and the fact that the youth collaborated so effectively with the entertainment industry makes the story worth telling–and the films speak for themselves.”
The films represent collaboration between professional filmmakers Jeff Van Hanken (“Bella! Bella! Bella!”), Robert Peters (“Mutual Love Life”), David Plane (“They Call Us Boat People”), editor Ed Ornelas (“Any Day Now”), crew Jamie Barber (“Gideon’s Crossing”), Dayton Nietert (“Hope Floats,” “Lucas Bielan,” “Tracey Takes On”), Paul Plannette (“The Grinch Who Stole Christmas”) and amateur youth writers and actors.
Mitchel D. Moore, founder and Executive Director of HOLA, was thrilled when Hollywood came knocking. “The HOLA Film project was a perfect opportunity for our kids to tell their stories in their own words while learning about the filmmaking process from real pros.” Moore explains that several of the youth involved have followed up on their experience by auditioning for professional acting jobs.
As for the filmmakers, working with HOLA youth made the project unusually satisfying. “Although the production value matched any Hollywood shoot, and the project was quite challenging technically, working with eager young people who might not otherwise have a chance to do this made the work especially fun and rewarding,” explained editor Ed Ornelas.
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