Features talents of young local actors, including Hollywood’s Emma Lyle
by Chris Harris Commonwealth Journal
Halloween might have been last month, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t still time for a good “Haunting of the Car-negie.”
A short film shot and produced in downtown Somerset at the Carnegie Community Arts Center, “The Haunting of the Carnegie” will debut Saturday, Nov. 16, at 7 p.m., and will star some of the area’s brightest young talent.
The project was written and directed by Emma Rayne Lyle and Ryan Lyle — the children of Nina Lyle, who serves as the film’s producer. Emma is only 10 years old and Ryan is 15, but both have a wealth of experience in the world of enter-tainment already.
“Emma started acting when she was born, it seems like,” said Nina. “She was always pre-tending.”
Emma is a professional SAG (Screen Actors Guild) actress, who won a “Young Artist Award” for actresses ages 10 and under for her role as Emily Reddy in the 2011 Sarah Jessica Parker film, “I Don’t Know How She Does it.” She’s also been in television shows like “The Mentalist” and “Law and Order: SVU” and recently completed her 12th feature film.
Her brother Ryan introduced Emma to the world of acting, starting himself when he was 10. He now focuses more on the writing and storyboarding aspect of filmmaking, and is currently a sophomore at Southwestern High School.
Though the Lyle family has lived in New York and Los Angeles, they moved to Kentucky when Nina’s husband Grady got a job in the area — he’s in manufacturing, while Nine coaches acting for film and television. It wasn’t as difficult a transition as one might think.
“We are accustomed (to) and prefer living in a small town,” said Nina. Still, “we waited until the children made friends to start telling people about her acting career. We wanted to make sure she was able to make friends without acting becoming a part of the conversation.
“(S)he often has to leave the state to film and is out of class for long periods at a time,” added Nina, noting that fifth-grader Emma is able to audition for almost any major role thank to having agents in several major U.S. cities. “The teachers and staff at her school have been very supportive and we appreciate everything they have done for Emma.”
It’s a creative family all the way around — Emma’s sister Savan-nah, who did set design for the “Haunting” film, won the Kentucky “Doodle for Google” contest earlier this year.
Since coming to Somerset, Emma, Ryan and Nina have helped start a Young Actors Studio at the Carnegie Center. The Young Actors Studio provides acting classes and private coaching for children and young adults who have a desire to act on film or the stage.
“Our goals are to share with the children and young teens in Pulaski County the skills needed to speak in public, obtain scholarships for college, book film work, or help them prepare for Broadway,” said Nina. “Acting and film making at the Young Actors Studio is a lot of fun! We want to make more films and get more students enrolled now that people know about the classes —especially teens. We'd love to mentor the next Jennifer Lawrence or Josh Hutcherson — two very popular actors from Kentucky who also star in the Hunger Games film franchise together.”
Out of this effort came the idea for “The Haunting of the Carnegie.” Nina and her kids discussed the idea for the film after the first class was held. The story is about a brother and sister who go trick-or-treating on Halloween with a group of children they don’t know very well — and the Carnegie Center is the site of supernatural goings-on.
“We had previously spoken with the director of the Carnegie, Diane Giddens, who told us that the Carnegie was actually declared haunted by real ghost hunters,” said Nina. “The story was fascinating. ... We combined the ideas of ghosts, the Carnegie and the fact that the end of the class was near Halloween and that’s how the film idea came about.”
Writing the script took only a few hours. It was filmed on a shoestring budget in about 20 hours, with the resulting short film being about a half-hour long. Eight filming hours came from the actual acting classes at the Carnegie.
The cast is comprised of students enrolled at the Young Actor's Studio of Somerset, as well as the actual music teacher at the Carnegie, William McNeil (who plays, well, a music teacher in the film).
The students comprising the cast of the film include Josie Watkins, Lydia Stewart, Jordan Jackson, Allie Casada, Hannah Kegley, Brylee Patit, and Hayden Back.
Cost for Young Actors Studio participation is $10 per class ,or you can apply for the YEARN program to have your child attend for no cost to you. The Carnegie Center's YEARN (Young Emerging Artists Rec-eive Nurturing) Program sponsors children in the area who excel in the visual and performing arts. They offer music classes, art lessons and acting classes. They are a 501c3 non-profit organization. They obtain their funds from private donations because they do not receive any government funding and actively seek local sponsors to help provide free lessons for kids who can’t afford them or have a gift in the arts.
If you have a child that would like to participate in the YEARN program OR if you or your business would like sponsor a child Please contact Diane Giddens at (606) 677-0333. The YEARN program also accepts donations in form of art supplies, musical instruments, film making and sound equipment. Donations are tax deductible.
Applications for the YEARN program are available at the Carnegie. Parents interested should call the Carnegie at (606) 677-0333, go online at www.pulaskiyouthinfilm.com, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.