Paul Moorehead has returned from the White House with new links and fresh inspiration for future films.
The former Lurgan Junior High School teacher spent five days in Washington DC after being specially invited to attend the President’s Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge conference - a testament to the impact his films have had on an international scale.
The Creative Director of LJHSTV was asked to showcase his film, ‘Ticking the Box?’, at the conference and it was warmly received by an eclectic mix of viewers.
“It was really interesting,” Paul explained. “I was one of a group of 27 people from right across the world. There were people from Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, the Philippines, Indonesia, South Africa, France - and more.”
Among the vast collection of global influencers, Paul even got a glimpse of the US President as Obama addressed the conference via video link.
The purpose of the conference was to bring together faith and education leaders from across the globe, and Paul seized the opportunity to exchange ideas and ambitions with his international counterparts.
“There was a German professor there who absolutely loved the film,” Paul said, “and he waxed lyrical about it! It went down really well.
“I’ve already had several emails from a man from Kosovo who used to be an actor in television and film. He wants us (LJHSTV) over to Kosovo to film - focusing on inter-faith issues. If we can get funding, we’d really like to get over.”
This would not be the first time Paul has established connections in distant lands. Several friends travelled down from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, to attend the film screening at the conference and sat on a panel to answer questions and spark a debate after the film was shown.
“We had a panel down from Harrisburg, including Dr Sybil Knight - Superintendent of Harrisburg School District - and local pastor, Wayne Baxter,” shared Paul. “They all appeared in the film, and we had some good discussions after the screening. My friend in the US said the film was ‘like drinking water from a fire hydrant!
“There seems to be an absence of the types of film we make in America.”
Paul and his small team - consisting of Thomas Glass, his fellow company director, and Paul’s wife, Marina - have been singled out again and again for being creators of a unique style of filmmaking. Their approach is one fuelled by curiosity: always questioning and approaching issues from an alternative perspective.
“We make films that ask questions about things and provoke debates,” Paul explained. “They’ve all made some sort of impact. One film is being studied in various universities across America, as well as in Germany - and other universities have requested copies.”
LJHSTV are no strangers to making waves on both sides of the Atlantic, with their first film having a big impact on home soil - setting out to question the absence of The Troubles in children’s education here.
“The first film we made, ‘Before My Time’, acted as a catalyst to thinking about changes in the history curriculum,” Paul said. “It started when my wife took students to Harrisburg for Martin Luther King Day. When they returned, they decided to make a film - not about racism, but about sectarianism. It was championed by one of the history inspectors, and was shown to history teachers across the country.”
Building his projects around the areas of education and community engagement, Paul is a great believer in the capabilities and talents of young people - shaped by his time as teacher at Lurgan Junior High School.
“Young people have a great curiosity and the ability to question things that others might not,” explained Paul. “I’ve worked with lots of really talented young people - we need to bring out the talents they have and give them the opportunity to develop those skills.”
Paul’s wife, Marina, works as a music and special needs teacher in Lurgan, and usually conducts interviews on the films he and Thomas make.
“It’s usually the three of us working on films,” Paul said, “but we bring others in. Our crew range from 16 to 65 years of age - we mix older, younger, teachers, pupils. It’s great - there’s no difference among us: we’re all one crew.”
To see a list of the films made by LJHSTV and to learn more about the company, visit www.ljhstv.com