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Petaluma teen garners international attention with his filmmaking company

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Movie screening

“Point 453,” a film about human traffiking

When: 7 p.m. Jan.13

Where: 32Ten Studios, 3210 Kerner Blvd., San Rafael.

Tickets: Free, but reservations are needed at point453premiere.eventbrite.com

Information:

take18entertainment.wixsite.com/site

Ethan Paisley called it a surreal moment. The Petaluma teen had received a picture that showed the poster of his first film, “The Art of Escape,” on a building in Singapore.

Somehow, the rookie narrative that Paisley had put together a year ago had been selected to play at a film festival across the globe, marking just one of the milestones the 16-year-old has reached in his incipient career.

Currently, Paisley heads Take18 Entertainment, a teenager-run production company based in Petaluma, and has his second feature film, “Point 453,” debuting Jan. 13. But before discovering the beauty of collaboration and an interest in social work, Paisley pursued his passion alone.

The Petaluma native originally began his career in front of the camera before discovering an interest in the technical side of film. He soon began producing his own YouTube videos, which eventually led to creating narrative bodies of work in the form of both short and feature-length films.

Paisley has also studied cinematography at the Marin School of the Arts for three years. By collaborating with like-minded teenagers from all over the Bay Area, Paisley was able to create Take18 — a nod to the fact that no one at the company is over 18 years old — and put his stories, skills and interests to the test. The company also offers services such as head shots for actors, website design, event filming and producing commercials.

From small beginnings, Take18 has proved itself to be a talented company capable of producing a wide range of narrative films. Highlights include “The Egoic Trinity,” a mind-melting short about the human conscious; “(Dis)connected,” which studies a day in the life of four individuals who have become isolated through the use of social media; and, most recently, “Playing the Game,” a short that focuses on human trafficking in the Bay Area.

From the graffitied buildings to the historic downtown neighborhoods and the rolling hills beyond, the natural beauty and ambiance of the Petaluma area grounds Paisley’s somber narratives in everyday life.

The company’s latest feature film, “Point 453,” follows the story of Darren, a boy trying to come to terms with his mental illness even as he is rejected and isolated by his friends and family. The film continues the company’s pattern of bringing attention to social issues through their narrative work.

“ ‘Point 453’ is about humanity and family, and it sheds light on the challenges that bipolar disorder can present,” Paisley said. “But in that, I think it’s kind of universal in the way it shows how bipolar disorder can affect the household, how it can affect us in families, friendships, relationships, and it’s really about spreading awareness for bipolar disorder. But I also think it’s just a movie about life, to sum it up.”

The film will premiere at a bipolar awareness event in San Rafael, also spearheaded by a Marin School of the Arts creator, Rachael Jones. Jones and Paisley have teamed up for a night that includes presentations from nonprofits and local art students, exploring the medium of art as therapy while reducing the stigma surrounding mental illness.

In spite of the somber nature of Take18’s films, finding actors to portray such roles has never been an issue.

“A lot of our work is serious, but the people we work with, they’re usually flexible with anything,” Paisley said. “I think it’s difficult just for us as a team to work on these subjects and talk about them, and I think that’s what allows us to pursue these endeavors, is just that everyone is so passionate and so willing to delve into that.”

Movie screening

“Point 453,” a film about human traffiking

When: 7 p.m. Jan.13

Where: 32Ten Studios, 3210 Kerner Blvd., San Rafael.

Tickets: Free, but reservations are needed at point453premiere.eventbrite.com

Information:

take18entertainment.wixsite.com/site

The team’s hard work and dedication already seems to be paying off – Paisley announced that a feature-length version of “Playing the Game” has been picked up and is in development as a feature length film.

“(‘Playing the Game’) is a funny example where if you make a short and it’s solid, and the people like it, it could lead to something better,” Paisley said. “And this could be a game changer in our (the team at Take18) careers as filmmakers and actors.”

In the past year, both feature films produced by Take18 have enjoyed some success at film festivals both nationally and internationally. Along with premiering Singapore, “The Art of Escape,” which tackles the perils of adolescence, won silver at the Fame Film Festival in Los Angeles, and “Point 453” has been selected for a Canadian film festival. Paisley notes that the main difference between the two productions was his ability to collaborate with other teenagers.

“ ‘The Art of Escape’ was a movie where I was taking anything I knew about being on set,” Paisley said. “It was also a movie that a lot of us (teens at Take18) first met on. Forming these relationships in ‘The Art of Escape’ and being able to collaborate with these people really carried into ‘Point 453.’ By ‘Point 453,’ knowing how to collaborate, we got to work with an all SAG (Screen Actors Guild) cast. The difference is that now we really know how to collaborate now and make a good movie.”

Kiara Ramirez, a junior at the Marin School of the Arts and cinematographer for “Point 453,” was similarly enthusiastic about collaborating with the company.

“Each and every person I have met through the production company have all been some of the most driven, hardworking and talented group of people,” Ramirez said. “I always feel very respected and cherished when working with them.”

Collaborating with other filmmakers allows productions to draw the best from the creative psyche and rather than being laborious and stressful can lead to a well-developed product. Paisley admits that the most surprising part of the process is watching the company’s hard work pay off.

“I didn’t know that if you really work your butt off at something, you can work with whoever you want. Anything’s possible if you believe in it. It sounds really cliché, but it’s true,” Paisley said. “And I think that’s what Take18 has been doing lately. It’s amazed me really that people are willing to go that extra mile and there are so many kids who are passionate about the same thing, and that anything is possible when you can collaborate and are passionate.”

Visit take18entertainmen.wixsite.com for more information.

(Contact Ella Ban at argus@arguscourier.com)