Lights, Camera, Action!Girls write, direct and star in their own film

Published 1:00 am Saturday, April 21, 2012

Little girls dream of being in the movies. Few grow up to do it — fewer still as writer, director and actress.

Vicksburg’s Cameron Kitchens, 12, and her cousin Kirsten Kitchens, 16, a Clinton native, have done just that.

The girls’ 35-minute film, “Fire It up,” made in their grandparents’ backyard in Flora and edited with Apple’s iMovie software, was screened April 13 at Mississippi’s Crossroads Film Festival.

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“It’s about two young warriors taken from their life of security, their normal lives, and taken on an adventure,” said Kirsten, reached by phone in Charlotte, N.C., where she is in the pre-professional ballet program at the North Carolina Dance Theater.

“Fire It Up” was one of 18 films shown in the “Shorts: Films 4 Kids” division at the Malco Grandview Theater in Madison during the festival.

“My dream since I was in the first grade has been to become an actress,” said Cameron, who has been in school plays and Vicksburg Theater Guild Fairy Tale Theater productions. “Seeing myself on the big screen — it was like heaven.”

Cameron, the daughter of Andrea and Chris Kitchens, is a seventh grader at Warren Central Junior High and previously attended Bowmar Avenue Elementary School. Cameron’s sister Ragan Hunter, 20, is a student at Hinds Community College.

Kirsten, who is home-schooled, is the daughter of Mark and Cathy Kitchens. The family moved in June to Charlotte for Kirsten’s ballet studies.

The girls started turning stories into scripts about four or five years ago, said Andrea Kitchens.

“They started off with puppets behind the couch,” playing around with a couple of “Hippity” Beanie Babies, she said. “From there they graduated to using video cameras and writing scripts.”

The girls created music videos and taped interviews before making “Fire It Up.”

The movie features grandparents Larry and Mellany Kitchens — and their Flora home and lake-side yard — and other relatives including Cameron’s dad.

Cameron said they were at their grandparents’ house when she “had a big idea” to attempt a professional-looking film with a big story line and special effects.

“She came up with the basic plot of the two necklaces (that the two warriors were trying to recover),” Cameron said. Each of the girls created their own characters and names. Some of the dialogue was written, some ad libbed.

“Every time they get together at Nana and Papa’s they are working on this kind of stuff,” Andrea Kitchens said.

After seeing a trailer of “Fire It Up” on YouTube, a friend of Mellany Kitchens who works with Crossroads told them to submit it for consideration.

“It was an honor just being accepted,” Andrea Kitchens said. “But it’s also such a great way to let them know that stuff like Crossroads is out there, for them to even know something like this is possible. The kids that we saw there were having a blast. You could just see it in their faces.”

Acting and making movies is “a passion,” Cameron said, but more important is doing it with her cousin.

“We’re like best friends,” she said. “I love her to death. I couldn’t do any of this without her.”

Mississippi’s Crossroads Film Society “celebrates the art of filmmaking in all of its diversity and depth,” its website states. The festival presents films related to Mississippi and the South and also seeks to provide workshops and other educational opportunities and “facilitate general discussions for film lovers and aspiring film makers.”