VENTNOR – Two women with extensive experience in filmmaking are bringing a little piece of Hollywood to North Beach. Their new business, Little Rock Film and Studios, will fill the need to expand the arts in an area that has made the arts the focus of revitalization.
Dina Engle and Sherry McCracken opened a storefront on Atlantic Avenue near Little Rock Avenue where they will offer classes in acting, photography, writing, voice over and filmmaking, starting Sept. 15.
They are in the perfect location for that type of business. North Beach Ventnor is a hip, a SoHo-esqe neighborhood close to all the activity in Atlantic City. The shop is located near a row of restaurants, a Kosher food store, graphic design business and a yoga studio.
“Filmmaking is a great way to revitalize Atlantic City,” Engle said.
The women have hired professionals to teach writing and music video, but Engle will draw on her years as an accomplished film actor to teach acting and McCracken, who is a graduate of Antonelli’s School of Photography in Philadelphia, will teach photography.
They also plan to offer local businesses the opportunity to create their own web commercials and perhaps offer filmmaking classes for children by next summer.
Engle said Little Rock Films and Studios is currently offering casting and location scouting services for someone who is making a film in the Atlantic City area.
“You don’t need to be in New York or LA to make films these days,” Engle said. “You can use YouTube or post on a website. Everyone has access, but they need to learn how to make movies,” she said.
“We are passionate about what we do,” said McCracken, a professional photographer with experience shooting everything from weddings and portraits to movie marketing stills and film location shoots. She also spent years in the information technology and computer science field, and followed the progression of digital photography, which she will incorporate into her curricula.
“I plan to teach Premier Pro (video editing program) down the road when we get some space and computers,” McCracken said. “But today, you can make a short film using an iPhone.”
Engle said acting classes can build self-esteem in children.
“When I was growing up, I was a little different, but in acting class, I felt the same as anyone else. It gave me the confidence I needed at a time when I needed it most,” she said. “If we can help other people feel the same way, then we are doing good.”
The studio includes a green screen and voice over studio, and they have hired industry professionals to teach some of the classes.
Leonard Dozier, a Broadway and film actor, will be teaching acting and voice over. Novelist Dan Putkowski will be teaching writing for all levels and genres, including screenwriting. Sean Sinderbrand will be teaching filmmaking and editing, and Suzie Neustadter will be teaching music video.
The women are offering a place for residents and summer visitors to explore their creative abilities and grow, Engle said.
“We will be offering quality training at an affordable price,” she said.
Classes range from $299 to $325 for six- or seven-week classes. A master class for experienced actors is offered by invitation only at $135 a month. Headshots are available at $195. Demo acting reels start at $150 and video audition tapes start at $50. Engle also offers private acting lessons at an hourly rate of $55.
Registration is now open for classes that start next week.
“This is a great opportunity for people to try something new. We’re hoping Little Rock can do for filmmaking what Ventnor Coffee has done for music,” Engle said.