The lights dim. The room grows quiet. The director yells, “Quiet on the set,” as actors take their positions and the camera operator sets up for a medium shot.

The scene could be straight from a Hollywood sound stage. Except that in this case, the eyes looking through the lens belong to a 9-year-old student.

This production is part of the curriculum offered at Heninger Elementary School and nearby Santa Ana High through the Latino Film Institute’s Youth Cinema Project. Students as young as fourth-graders are eligible to participate.

The Youth Cinema Project was founded in 2014 by actor Edward James Olmos (“Stand and Deliver,” “Miami Vice”). Chapman University supports the Santa Ana program with equipment, sound stage space at Marion Knott Studios and mentorship from faculty and students at Dodge College of Film and Media Arts.

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