Spotlight Academy’s 2015 Halloween Camp (Submitted photo)

Academy opens opportunities for youth in film on Vancouver Island

Spotlight is offering two themed camps for youth interested in film and television

If you are trying to get the attention of budding thespians, an appearance in a Disney film is a pretty tasty carrot.

Jacqui Kaese is the owner, artistic director, acting coach, and casting director for Vancouver Island’s Spotlight Academy. She has a wealth of industry experience, and has trained Island youths that have gone on to get roles in film and television.

In her capacity as a casting director, Kaese operates a database of background actors for film and television on the Island. She has worked for four seasons of Chesapeake Shores, and is currently working on a film in Victoria called The Nanny. She is not an agent, and does not take a cut from any of the performers work. With her years of experience, Kaese has become a highly renowned acting coach on the Island with a reputation for producing top tier talent.

“People come to me for talent,” she said. “Producers and directors will come to me if they’re looking for somebody.”

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Kaese pointed to the recent Disney film, Upside Down Magic that filmed in Lake Cowichan. Kaese said that 300 Island teens were on set for the film, a majority of which were Spotlight students.

The Academy is once again offering its Halloween Acting and Film Camp, as well as their Christmas Film Camp for kids.

The camps offer youths a professional acting experience. At the camp, the kids have complete creative control over their projects. They come up with the story, write the script, act, film, and direct their own feature length film. The camps culminate in a red carpet film screening event that mirrors Hollywood film premiers.

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“The sooner we introduce kids and teens to the concept, the more aware they are of the potential careers in film. There’s a shortness of crews, especially on Vancouver Island. Essentially, my job is to not only introduce the kids to the acting side of things, but to introduce them to the potential of being able to work one day as a member of the crew,” Kaese said. “There’s so much opportunity growing within the industry on the Island, and I saw an opportunity for education. It’s not just about having fun in the process, but it’s about realizing potential in an industry that’s growing rapidly here.”

Youth are given the opportunity to learn camera techniques, sound equipment, and editing, alongside acting and writing. Some youth choose to continue with regular classes at Spotlight after attending the camps.

Kaese says she’s often impressed by the quality of talent the youth display at camps and classes.

“I’m delighted. It never ceases to amaze me the wonderful amount of talent that we have here, and the opportunity that they can capitalize on. We are Hollywood North, so there is opportunity here to work in film,” Kaese said.

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Of all the work Kaese does, her favourite part of the camps is seeing the faces of the youths as they discover a passion for film.

“The other favourite part — because there’s more than one — is when we present the movie to family and friends… to see the joy the kids have. They’re so proud to have their mom and dad, or their grandparents, or their friends there,” Kaese said.

The camps are scheduled this fall out of Spotlight’s Nanaimo location. Check the website for details.

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