Julia Fulmer, a 16-year-old cancer survivor, is making her directorial debut by calling the shots on “Rachel’s Pitch,” a new original short film that began shooting in Santa Clarita on Monday.
Fulmer worked on the script with filmmakers Jennifer Fischer and Ramon Hamilton, who founded and ran the Santa Clarita Valley Film Festival for seven years, and now head Val Verde-based Think Ten Media Group.
Shooting the film is a wish come true for Fulmer, a resident of South Carolina who has the support of Make-A-Wish South Carolina.
She was battling lymphoma and struggling to select the perfect “wish” to be granted by the organization when her mother Judy came across Spotlight on Hope, a free film camp for pediatric cancer patients started by Think Ten Media Group and founded by Fischer and Hamilton.
Judy Fulmer picked up the phone and spoke with Fischer. While the two women talked, Fulmer shared her daughter’s passion for filmmaking – the process, the lights, the camera, the action.
The “Rachel’s Pitch” crew in Santa Clarita – top (from left): Julia Fulmer, Cassie Nguyen, Corinne Jayaweera, Ramon Hamilton, Lauren Opatowski, Adam Simpson, Senda Bonnet, Chris Mammarelli and Marcos Burton Jr. Bottom: Jennifer Fischer, Brieana Johnson, Jiya Jaisingh, Peter Hood, Wade Williams and Bobby Baldanza.
Fischer said Julia could absolutely attend the next camp, but dared the teen to wish bigger.
Julia’s wish? To make a short film, complete with a full crew, with her own script – in Los Angeles.
The team at Make-A-Wish South Carolina got on board and granted this unique wish.
Julia worked with Hamilton, an award-winning writer/director, via Skype and email to learn how to turn her original idea into a workable script.
The result is “Rachel’s Pitch,” the script for a comedic short film about a young woman who pitches her movie ideas to a big studio, with a surprise ending.
Beyond mentoring Julia through the entire filmmaking process, Fischer and Hamilton also wanted her to see women working in all aspects of the industry.
“When I first came to Los Angeles many years ago, sets were dominated by men and most still are,” Fischer said. “I’ve worked hard to develop a rich network of talented women working in the industry, and we pulled heavily from that network for this film.”
The “Rachel’s Pitch” crew features women in many key positions and, if everything had gone according to plan, the film would already be in the editing phase by now.
But two days before Julia was set to fly out for the film shoot, everything came to a screeching halt. Though she had been declared cancer-free (she’s in remission), her immune system was highly compromised, and she contracted pneumonia, making it unsafe for her to fly. It was a huge disappointment for everyone involved, but particularly for Julia and her mother.
They called Hamilton in tears, but the team at Think Ten vowed to reschedule the shoot and make it even better.
With more time, Think Ten put out a new casting notice. They scored Grammy nominee and YouTuber Jamie Grace (“The Jamie Grace Show”). Julia is a huge fan of Grace’s. Now the teen not only gets to meet one of her idols, but she also gets to direct her.
“There were a few hiccups,” Hamilton said, “but it’s been fun and rewarding to work with Julia throughout this process, beginning with the story concept all the way through casting and now directing. I’m excited to see her bring her vision to life. As a once-aspiring filmmaker myself, I understand just how valuable and important making your first professional film is and I’m confident she will succeed.”
Julia arrived in Los Angeles on Friday and filming for “Rachel’s Pitch” began yesterday in the SCV. The shoot will take place over three days in and around Valencia and Castaic.
Julia is full of excitement: “I can’t believe I’m finally here,” she said. “It’s going to be an awesome week!”
To follow the film production process as it unfolds, follow the hashtag #RachelsPitch #JuliasWish
About Think Ten Media Group
Think Ten Media Group is an independent production company co-founded by Jennifer Fischer and Ramon Hamilton, the award winning duo behind the feature-length narrative film SMUGGLED, winner of 5 Best Of Awards at Film Festivals. “Smuggled” has screened at more than 50+ university and college campuses (with a screening at Harvard University this Fall) and has been featured by NBCLatino, ABC, Univision and Fusion. Their short film, “The wHOLE” premiered at the ACLU 50th Anniversary Human Rights Conference in New York, was selected for PBS’s National Black Programming Consortium’s 360 Incubator last Fall and will screen at the Global Impact Film Festival in D.C. in August.
Think Ten’s arts education division currently conducts programs with LA’s BEST (the largest after-school provider for LAUSD), the City of Santa Clarita, iLead Santa Clarita and at UC-Riverside and the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television through Spotlight On Hope.
About Spotlight on Hope
Spotlight on Hope came to fruition when UC-Riverside TTMG intern and pediatric brain cancer survivor Cassie Nguyen realized the filmmaking workshops that Think Ten conducted for youth throughout Los Angeles County could be tailored for pediatric cancer patients and their siblings. She raised funds for the first free camp at UCLA in 2013. SOH was recently a finalist in UC-Berkeley’s Big Ideas Contest. This fall, SOH will expand to the USC campus.