• Kids In The Spotlight

New KITS Film Rite of Passage Explores Themes of Life, Death, and Fate

Updated: 4 days ago

Production Attracts Praise for KITS from High-Profile Staff and Set Volunteers

In late August 2022, Kids In The Spotlight (KITS) produced Rite of Passage, a short film written by and starring transitional age youth enrolled in KITS’ University of Southern California-located Script-to-Screen summer program.

Rite of Passage tells the story of two brothers in the middle of a fight who get trapped in a mysterious elevator that reveals to them blood has nothing to do with family.

Stunt coordination training for Rite of Passage was an important part of the actors’ preparation for filming a fight scene. Watch this training session with stunt master Jahlil Wallace (Doom Patrol, Star Trek: Picard, Rebel Moon) and KITS youth.

The film, shot at Ideal Sets and Kayne Eras Center - Exceptional Children's Foundation (ECF), was directed by Paramount Pictures executive Grant Housley (Senior Manager Mastering, Worldwide Technical Operations).

“What I love most about Kids In The Spotlight is seeing young people at such a vital age take on the challenge of creating and starring in their own films,” Housley said.

Housley has directed six other KITS short films: Treachery in Boyle Heights (2021), Exemplary (2019), Hide & Seek (2018), The Angel of St. Catherine’s Academy (2017), Fade Away (2016), and Moops Muted Life (2015). Housley explained what brings him back to KITS again and again:

“Directing Rite of Passage, it was an amazing experience for me and for my crew to watch these young adults change and become not only the characters, but also change their attitude and understanding of what the world can actually offer them,” Housley said.

“I look forward to seeing their faces when they come to the KITS Film Awards and see their finished work.”

Their finished work will be supported by Housley's Paramount team assisting with color correction, sound mixing, and more!

Emmy Award-winning documentarian (Defending the Homeland), Disney+ staff writer (The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder) and KITS Film Awards event producer Tiffany Thomas Muwwakkil served as a producer on Rite of Passage, as did filmmaker Michele Ly (Jucy, San Gabriel Valley). Dana Kippel (Reflect, Hellhounds) served as the associate producer.

The film’s Director of Photography, Snowfall gaffer Justin Dickson, brought some of his crew from the hit FX show to help out on the set and mentor young people working behind the scenes, including Streetlights-certified P.A. and KITS alumnus Joseph Roa.

Kayla Young, producer on The Kelly Clarkson Show (TKCS), volunteered on the set—and not for the first time. She also worked on the set of Run, another film premiering this November. Kayla served as grip alongside Joseph, thanks to the lighting and grip package provided by MBS Production Services and Radford Studio Center.

Following an in-kind partnership between KITS and the Snap Academy, Snap Inc. scholar Tyler Cooper volunteered on the 2-day shoot.

In a social media post, Cooper wrote, “This weekend I had the privilege of doing some PA and background work for Kids In The Spotlight, Inc., a nonprofit organization that helps foster and inner-city youth write and act in their own short films with the help of seasoned Hollywood veterans. The organization gives youth the hands-on experience they need to enter careers in film.

“Not only that, but they create a kind and loving environment which makes it easier for the youth to follow their direction. I moved from NY to LA three years ago, and for the first time, I felt at home, with KITS.”

She concluded, “I am thankful that I was able to be a part of this film and I can’t wait to do some more work.” Cooper will support social media promotion for the 2022 KITS Film Awards.

Once again, HUGE THANKS to our partners who make this all possible: Radford Studio Center and MBS Equipment Company for providing a grip/lighting package in-kind for this 2-day shoot, Sam Shot It for the camera package, BEN at NBCUniversal and Impeccable Taste Catering for providing meals and craft services and Make-up Designory (MUD) for providing makeup volunteers.

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