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Issue Date: August 2008

Reel World

A local student sees her winning screenplay come to life.

Anne Hartman
Earlaina Kemp stands at Martin Luther King Jr. High School carefully studying the event unfolding before her.

Three students are chatting near the cafeteria when a teacher interrupts to drop an ominous reminder about an upcoming exam. When one of the students unexpectedly utters a curse, the director throws up his hands and yells “Cut!”

“I guess that’s for the PG-13 version,” he laughs to Kemp, who is snickering herself.

Rawson Marshall Thurber, the director ofDodgeball: A True Underdog Story, has come to Cleveland on this June day to film Kemp’s screenplay,MANchild,which will premiere in New York City in December and on cable outlets in the spring.

Written from a male point of view about an 18-year-old juggling responsibilities at home, peer pressure and an uncertain future,MANchild was selected from about 200 local entries to be put on the big screen by Scenarios USA, a New York-based nonprofit that uses filmmaking to advance youth leadership. Kemp’s prize: the chance to team with Thurber to put her words on film.

“What Earlaina wrote, it’s hard to exaggerate how impressive it is,” Thurber says. “You can’t teach somebody about heart and truth. She knows that very well.”

“When I first met [Thurber], I was really nervous,” Kemp says. “But he’s so cool and very relatable.”

The two met in March, and later exchanged phone calls and e-mails, to plan for the upcoming shoot. Kemp calls Thurber her “funny, big brother.”

Thurber says his primary goal was translating the teen’s vision — not his own — to the screen. So don’t expect any of the goofy slapstick frequent inDodgeball. Thurber jokes, “No one will be hit in the groin.”

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