By Taylor Miles

From Sacramento Press

Age is nothing but a number. Nine-year-old Claire Elizabeth, “A Place Called Sacramento” film festival script winner, is living proof of that.

The premiere of her film, “The Chozen” will be at 1 p.m. on Oct. 2 at the Crest Theatre, 1013 K St. There will be a $10 fundraising charge for Access Sacramento the night of the premiere only, and after that, all films will be up on the site where people can view them for free.

“In 2000, Access Sacramento, (a nonprofit company) started training folks on how to use digital equipment because most independent small films were using video production instead of film,” said Access Sacramento Executive Director, Ron Cooper. “The idea was to create a local film festival to feature local original work at the Crest Theatre.”

According to Cooper, the judges were unaware of how young Claire was and chose her script purely because it had well-written dialogue and they felt it worked well in 10 minutes. Her script won on merit, she competed with adults and she won fair and square.

This year is unique for “A Place Called Sacramento,” because it has both its youngest, Claire, and oldest, Burt Wilson, 78, script winners yet.

“When I found out I won, I basically called all my friends screaming,” Claire said. “Since I’m the youngest person, people will make jokes like ‘So where were you in ‘85?’ It’s funny.”

Claire not only wrote the script, but she also stars in her 10-minute film, which she said she hopes to eventually turn into a full-length feature and from there possibly have several sequels.

“Basically it’s about a young girl who moves to Sacramento and a clique of girls in her new class, destroying peoples lives and operating as most cliques do. But the heroine has her own secret,” Cooper said. “It’s a good story.”

Some names that will be recognizable in Claire’s film are Jeffery Weissman (from George McFly and Back to the Future Part II and III) and Lucinda Chrisman (from Disaster! and several short films).

“She’s a busy girl, and she’s got drive like you wouldn’t believe,” said Claire’s mother, Rachel. “I don’t know where she gets that kind of drive. But my husband and I definitely encourage it.”

“People say she’s so young, I say she’s so old,” Cooper said. “I’m a big believer in you get what you expect. She doesn’t see herself as a child, she sees herself as highly competent and an opinionated leader, a person with her own ideas and her own ambitions, and she’s willing to work hard to make that happen.”

“The Chozen” started out as being called “The Slumber Party,” which was about four girls having a sleepover, and some boys were going to come over to pull pranks and scare them.

“Then it evolved into something completely different,” Rachel said.

Claire was only 6 when she started acting after seeing a downtown production of “Annie.” Now, four years later, (she will be 10 in November) she has acted in 17 plays and been involved with various companies such as New Star Children’s Theatre, Rocklin Youth Theatre, Sutter Street Theatre and Art and Soul Productions. Claire was also on a TV show called “Kids Corporation,” and now has two agents, one in San Francisco and another in Los Angeles.

“If I make a commitment, I stick with it. The only time I’ve ever broken a commitment was like if I was vomiting because I don’t give up on stuff,” Claire said. “I’ve never in a million years heard my mom try to push me into doing something. I do it because I wanna do it.”

The other nine winners include Patrick Ardell, Danna Wilberg, Gerald Martin Davenport and Rob Tillitz, Burt Wilson, Erica Ruiz and Dwight Taylor, Judith Plank, Nathan Reedy, Joyce Bezazian and Raghni Reddy.

“ ‘A Place Called Sacramento’ is not just about movies and movie-making. If you are new to Sacramento and you are asking questions about what kind of place it is – I would take you and find you a seat in middle of the Crest Theatre and tell you to just watch on Oct. 2,” Cooper said. “Those 10 films will tell so much, and you would see why people like to live in Sacramento.”

Claire is already working on her next projects. In August, she is going to the premiere of “Daddy’s Little Girl,” a 48-hour film she was in that placed in the Las Vegas Film Festival. In Old Sacramento, she is also currently playing the role of Lotta Crabtree who is a 1800s singer/actress.

“I’d like to say for all the kids out there, if you have a dream, I really think that you should follow it because doors open and doors close, but you should go for what you think is right, and if people make fun of you, just keep doing what you wanna do,” Claire said.

Check out these links: Kickstarter for “The Chozen,” Access Sacramento, “The Chozen” website, “The Chozen” Facebook fan page, Claire’s Facebook fan page, Claire’s photographer.