Hollywood movie mogul returns to Rhyl school to launch short film project

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Pupils had a brush with Hollywood when a high-profile former student returned to a Rhyl school.

Denbighshire County Council and Blessed Edward Jones Catholic High School welcomed former student Paul Higginson, who is executive vice President EMEA for Twentieth Century Fox, to talk about how to pursue a career in the movie business.

Mr Higginson also launched a short film project in collaboration with the Denbighshire Curriculum Enrichment initiative and Tape Community Music and Film, after a scriptwriting masterclass in 2017, when film and television writer Jimmy McGovern visited the school and helped students start a script for a short film entitled Flight or Flight.

Mr Higginson has worked on a number of blockbusters, including 1997’s Titanic, and was responsible for bringing the premiere of the Jim Carrey comedy Me, Myself and Irene to the town in 2000.

He said: “Rhyl is where I grew up, I went to this school and I wanted to be involved in this project.

“I was excited about coming back and it was very emotional. I wanted to get across to the students what is possible, there is so much negativity around reaching beyond your environment and what people around you set as your parameters.

“I wanted to tell students they can push beyond the boundaries. I am very proud to support an initiative that can help children feel that way.”

Pupils will now film and produce Fight or Flight, which deals with issues of self-esteem, body image and social media, with a premiere set to be held at the school later this year.

Mathew Smith, a year 11 pupil said Mr Higginson’s talk inspired the students.

He said: “One thing for me is that since he is from the same town as us, it makes it more relatable and makes it seem it is a possible thing to do.”

The project is a collaboration between the Denbighshire Curriculum Enrichment initiative, the school and Tape, with funding also provided from the Thomas Howell’s Education Fund for North Wales.

Dominic Tobin, Headteacher at the school, said: “Our students relish the opportunity to put themselves outside of their comfort zone.  Having an opportunity for professionals to come into school, work with our students and extend their skills and experiences is fantastic.  In addition, this will boost their confidence and self-belief, opening their minds to future career possibilities.”

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