Ridley Downs didn’t let her age stop her from making a kids-inspired “Mini Indiana Jones” film. The 3-minute, 42-second production is slated to be shown by College of the Canyons’ Cinema Department on Oct. 5, where the production crew — of which, all members are under age 14 — will get a chance to showcase its work.
Ridley, a 13-year-old from Valencia, had an inspiration on a camping trip to the Sequoias to make an homage to her favorite movie franchise. And in 2017, when her uncle gifted her with “real cameras,” she decided she wanted to use that to make her dream come true.
“My friends and I have been making short films for four years,” she said. “And my mom and dad are both actors, and these things inspired me to make the film.”
Downs’ movie took three months to film last summer. The short trailer-like film features her brother Griffin battling Nazis brought to life by an ancient scroll. Griffin, 9, is decked out in costume similar to Jones himself, and uses a slew of weapons to save his love interest and the town from the evil plans of “Hitler’s cousin.”
Each 3- to 4-second take equated to about 15 minutes of filming, Ridley said.
“People’s attention spans are really short, so we took a long time filming the whole thing because each take took like five times,” she said. “And then it took… a long time to edit because we wanted everything to be perfect.”
The script, featuring dialogue similar to the classic “Indiana Jones” films, was written by Ridley and her father, Jason Downs.
“We’ve watched the Indiana Jones’ movies a million times, so we really picked up the way we talk,” she said.
The film altogether took a year and three months to put together, between filming and editing, she said.
Ridley attends Placerita Junior High and is thinking about other careers when she wants to grow up. However, she said she is thinking about other films she may want to make in the future.
“It was a lot of fun filming,” she said. “We got some really weird looks when we were doing scenes like, reading the spell to summon the dead at Vasquez Rocks, and also when we had to wear armbands with the Nazi symbol for our costumes… but I love acting and directing, and it felt so good when it was finally done.”
After production wrapped up four months ago, Jason Downs surprised Ridley by revealing COC was interested in doing the screening.
The 30-minute event will take place on Oct. 5 at 5 p.m. in the cinema department at COC, followed by a question-and-answer session with a Warner Bros. studio executive.
“All the kids involved are 13 and under and it really turned out well,” Jason Downs said. “I helped them, along with my brother-in-law, who was their DP, and lots of folks from the community chipped in for locations and costumes, and it turned out great.”