Cool Cooperative gives kids hands-on training in film industry

Cool Cooperative gives kids hands-on training in film industry

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Some area kids are getting the lights and action of the film industry in a unique after-school program. It's called the Cool Cooperative, and a Louisiana businesswoman and philanthropist keeps it rolling.

Felicia Stallard pours her heart, money and time into the effort to make life better for children after tragically losing a child of her own.

"In October of 2011 my oldest son was floundering around without a purpose," Stallard said.

Her son, Whitney, had always suffered from seizures. She decided working with earthquake victims in Haiti would help him to feel better inside and out.

"He said, 'Mom these kids have nothing.' By the time he returned from the trip, it was all he could talk about," she said.

Whitney died the next month of a seizure, but his passion for helping kids in need never left his mom's heart. She decided to shine a light on kids in need here in Louisiana with the Cool Cooperative.

John Swider is the program's executive director.

"We are in economically disadvantaged areas on the west bank and Algiers, and these students are very bright. They need the chance," Swider said.

Kids bounce off a school  bus for a play date with the future. The Event and Film Studios is the site of their next big feature.

"My name is Aalyah, I go to Martin Behrman Charter school, and I'm an eighth-grader. I'm captain of the debate team," said a young girl with a big smile.

The kids are working on a horror film featuring zombies. Lessons on makeup and scary lighting are all included.

"The generation now is the YouTube generation. Everyone wants to make something, but no one is going to a film making class to learn," said instructor Mike 5ive - his DJ name.

The  best and the brightest at four inner-city New Orleans schools get a chance to put the training on their resumes.

"Miss Felicia is such a nice person. She cares about everybody as if they are her own," said 13-year-old Emori Phillip.

He said he wants to give back just like Felicia Stallard when he hits the big time.

"I wanna hear my mom say, Yeah that's my son.' I wanna hear her say that," Emori said.

Copyright 2015 WVUE. All rights reserved.