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18 April 2011

Parramatta students feel like a billion dollars after Arthur red carpet event, by Eva Rinaldi - 16th April 2011

It's been said that many times education should incorporate aspects of fun and creativity to help facilitate real learning.

This concept is something I have wholeheartedly embraced in my teachings of wellbeing, life and communication skills at Parramatta College.

My students are not what you would call run of the mill. They have been labelled as "disadvantaged", as far as employment and business prospects go.

Our once a week class comprises of adult aged students who have to put it mildly, had a really rough go of it in life. We go around the room and learn of the stories of family breakdown, job retrenchment, depression, weight and diet issues, sexual abuse, homelessness and we need not elaborate any further. But, we are hear to look forward, not look back.

Just in case you blinked and missed it, last week saw Eskimo the miniature pony visit our class where he was treated to being painted and pampered from head to hoof. Eskimo and the students really enjoyed themselves. The end result was a pony turned into a zebra, and a whole lot of fun, creativity, and we filmed some footage which will eventually be turned into a documentary.

Many of the students were hesitant to be interviewed as they want to achieve more first before getting too much attention in the media.

Lately we have been ramping up the media, communications and interview skills component of the course.

It's been long known that a lot of the general public have a fascination about celebrities, showbiz and media. Truth is, it can be a lot of fun, quite rewarding, but also a lot of hard work. I don't have to tell you about how competitive it is. You may even ask yourself why I would actually introduce my students to such a business. Well, because it can be a lot of fun as well as some employment prospects still exist in the field, and in the early stages of my course I discovered that some of our students showed some aptitude for photography. Some people are best suited for jobs that express creativity or jobs that are "in the field", rather than being desk or office bound.

Last week my good friend Greg Tingle, a seasoned communications analyst, dropped in to brief my students on some interviewing techniques. Some potential work experience opportunities had arisen including photography and interviewing at some film premiers and other public events. Before the conclusion of the class all the students had questions ready for the likes of Russell Brand (Arthur), Chris Hemsworth (Thor) and Russell Crowe (Gladiator). Arthur and Mr Brand were the entities that were most discussed.

A few days ago I got the green light from the good folks at Roadshow Films that my class and I could attend the Arthur red carpet event. You can imagine how ecstatic we were upon hearing the news.

I can honestly say that for many reasons the night was one of the most memorable experiences I had enjoyed for a long time. It wasn't because it was a red carpet - I've done plenty of them before. It was because I was able to share the experience with many of my students who have also become my friends. The new experience expanded their minds and they were beaming with excitement - especially when Russell Brand approached us. It's hard to explain but for that evening all of our troubles seemed to disappear. My student Ella actually achieved some outstanding results as far as media and communications standards go. She got the attention of a communications officer for Mr Brand, and before long, she was speaking with Russell, got his autograph, and even took the most amazing close up photo of his expression full face. What also impressed me with Ella was her determination to do a good job and she even held her ground to a couple of other photographers who were being quite aggressive towards others. Mr Brand may have been the advertised star of the evening, but I feel my students were stars.

As I was just finishing off this piece I got a phone call. I had suspected before even day one of the course that there would be significant media and entertainment industry interest in what we are doing. I can't disclose too much at this time, but what I can tell you is that the production company has strong ties to a number of government departments including the Department of Education and Training. In addition, there's been some follow up from contacts of mine at Network Seven, Nine and Ten. Channel Seven and Nine actually shot some footage of us from both last night, and also at the Arthur press conference on Thursday, and a few clips of us have also appeared via Fairfax Media. I don't know what exactly the end result will be as far as the documentary goes, but as always we are reaching for the stars.

Here's some information on the film too.

Author is remake of the 1981 classic starring Dudley Moore. Brand is perfect in his role as a lovable but pretty hopeless billionaire who is set to lose all of his inheritance if he doesn't enter into an arranged but loveless marriage. The film has hit written all over it for Australian audiences, and no, I'm not being too rich with the accolades. If an actors heart could ever be measured financially, Brand's is that of a Billionaire ranking. Russ, a public thank you to your team and good self for enriching our lives with your special gift. From taking a look at your own journey since you were a wee lad growing up to the status you enjoy today, it further cements my belief that I have instilled in my students - that the impossible can become possible. Work ethic, passion, fun, love and commitment; all keys for success, be it in an alternative education environment or in showbiz. The film opens in Australia on April 21.