Nearly 20 young Cambodians are taking part in a month-long course on how to make movie magic armed with little more than a smartphone and a good idea.
The course – being run by the California-based Project Accessible Hollywood – kicked off on Sunday when the group began making a series of minute-long short films shot at iconic Phnom Penh locations such as Independence Monument and the Central Market.
Leading the group of 18 Cambodian 10- to 16-year-olds and a pair of young Russian-Americans is Cambodian-American fashion designer Remy Hou, who recently won first prize at Phnom Penh’s Chaktomuk Short Film Festival, and Dutch art promoter Janneke Hoogstraaten.
“I think what we’re doing is not just about film but empowering the kids and giving them access to explore the beauty of Cambodia,” Hou said. “They’re loving it, and they have all these ideas. They just need someone there to support them and guide them,” he added.
PAH was founded by Christopher R Coppola – nephew of Oscar-winning filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola and older brother of American actor Nicolas Cage – with the aim of empowering underprivileged youth through filmmaking using everyday technology.
The project has previously been run in Belize and New Mexico, but this is the first time in Cambodia.
Early next month, the group will split into three groups to collaborate over Skype with teams of US teens based in Los Angeles.
The resulting short films will be judged in a competition by Christopher Coppola at the end of the course.
Nine of the children were enrolled by Chibodia, a German NGO that manages children’s homes, health clinics and schools for impoverished communities in and around Phnom Penh.
Chibodia youth manager and English teacher Timon Seibel, who also started a music training program for underprivileged youth called CamProject, said that sending his students to join the creativity-enhancing project was a “no brainer”.
Timon said that when the PAH program was over he planned to buy a GoPro camera so that the children could continue making movies.