Stratford-Upon-Avon calling Local college students honored at Shakespeare fllm fest in England

Shakespeare once wrote: “All the world’s a stage.'

Shakespeare once wrote: “All the world’s a stage."

North shore filmmakers Caterina Picone and Nick Ramey are taking that to heart and claiming their spotlight on the stage of the independent film industry.

Picone and Ramey, both Loyola University students, recently were awarded honors at the fourth annual Shakespeare Film Festival’s Shakespeare Shorts competition in Stratford-Upon-Avon, England. The annual international competition, this year with the theme "Crossing Borders," selected Picone and Ramey’s short film "Ophelia" from a group of nearly 250 entries from more than 40 countries for “Best Film Inspired by Shakespeare.”

Written, produced and directed by Picone, with co-direction and photography by Ramey, the film explores what happens when “method acting” takes over the actor. The 15-minute short film tackles a fundamental principal found in Shakespeare plays: human emotion.

“Caterina and I created the film with the intention of making a captivating and emotional story,” Ramey said. "The award was not the honor, however. Premiering the film at Shakespeare's residence was."

"Ophelia" made its U.K. debut at the film festival late last month, when it was shown along with a selection of honored films at Shakespeare’s New Place, the site of his historic family home.

Oscar winner Kenneth Branagh hosted the event and presented the awards, which had a profound impact on the young filmmakers.

“I'm incredibly humbled,” Picone said. “I can only describe the experience as purely surreal and magical. I'm still waiting for someone to pinch me and wake me. Not only was our film selected by Sir Kenneth Branagh, but we were given a written critique from him."

The film was introduced by Russell Jackson, emeritus professor of drama at the University of Birmingham, who advises Branagh on his Shakespeare films.

"Beyond that, our film was screened in the garden of Shakespeare's New Place, where Shakespeare's personal home once stood," Picone said. "I can't describe how it felt to watch films inspired by Shakespeare and see people react to my film on Shakespeare's very own property.”

Picone, a senior at Loyola, graduated from St. Scholastica Academy and works as assistant director of the Pontchartrain Film Festival, where she created and spearheads the Student Short Film Showcase. She has been involved in film-making since 2012, and she credits her mentors for much of her success.

“There have been numerous mentors throughout my life," Picone said. "Some are people that magically appeared at a film festival or screening, offering one magical sentence of advice or criticism, or some are the long-lasting ones that continue to lead you in the right direction; but none compare to Sharon Edwards.

"Sharon and I first met when a local film festival lost the film I submitted. I'm not sure if she was the one to locate my submissions, but after viewing my film, she single-handedly convinced them to have the judges watch my film and score it. Little did I know that our brief initial interaction at the festival would lead to not only my first award as a young filmmaker but a life-long friend and colleague.”

This year’s Pontchartrain Film Festival will be held Nov. 3-4 at the Mandeville Trailhead, 675 Lafitte St.

Ramey, a junior at Loyola, was born in New Orleans and raised in Mandeville, attended the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts and has earned honors from National YoungArts, the White House Film Festival and Scholastic Art and Writing Awards.

“I attended Mandeville High School in the mornings and commuted each day to NOCCA for four years. I couldn't be more thankful to Paul Werner, my NOCCA media arts teacher, who recently retired after over 40 years of teaching in the city. He is a remarkable person and taught me most of what I know.”

In addition to his mentors locally, Ramey gains inspiration and guidance through peers across the country with a similar passion.

“I have been honored to be mentored by members of the American Society of Cinematographers. Without their advice and critique, I wouldn't be who I am today as a person, let alone as a cinematographer,” he said.

Despite their early successes, Picone and Ramey are determined to further hone their film-making skills.

“I love every aspect of film,” Picone said. “I've come to see film as this extraordinary synthesis of all the art forms I love. Beyond what's on screen, I love working in film. I've met some of the most wonderful, hardworking and talented people I know on film sets, and nothing makes me happier than seeing them succeed.

"I love working on others films, supporting their vision, and helping them create a world on screen that they've loved so dearly on paper for so long. That arduous process of endless hours on set and sleepless nights really pays off when you realize that someone connects with your film — even just for a second.”

Picone is in post-production on "The Language of Silence," a new short she has both written and directed.

“It's about a musician who has recently lost his hearing and how his negative views of deafness causes a schism in his relationship with his new girlfriend, who was born profoundly deaf. I will be working with an all deaf cast, and the film will have little to no verbal dialogue as we will be working with ASL (American Sign Language).”

Ramey continues his studies both in the classroom and behind the camera.

“Cinema is the culmination of all art forms. It has few creative restrictions, and as a medium, goes far beyond the frame in emotional impact. I enjoy seeing other's reactions to the medium and how the images I create make a difference,” he said. “There is no defined next step for me; I will just continue to create images and learn more about my art form.

"Whether another award comes or not is irrelevant, so long as I get to do what I love.”

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