Make A Film helps kids cope with ailments

Tiffany Sopp, 13, from Floral Park, is a Tiffany Sopp, 13, from Floral Park, is a participant in the "Vidz 4 Kidz" film screening at the SVA Theater in Manhattan. (Sept. 8, 2012) Photo Credit: Barbara Alper

advertisement | advertise on newsday

Tiffany Sopp was born with one lung and a single-ventricle heart -- medical problems that make it difficult for her to climb stairs and navigate her way through school.

But those ailments didn't stop the 13-year-old Floral Park resident from chasing a Justin Bieber look-alike across the silver screen Saturday.

Tiffany's caper, a 10-minute short film titled "Tiffany and Justin -- Never Say Never," was among four movies featuring Long Island children that had their Manhattan premiere at the School of Visual Arts Saturday, complete with a red carpet and faux Oscar statuettes.

The children -- all of whom have serious or chronic medical problems -- had been paired with directors in March, and spent a full day plotting their films and recording scenes in Times Square.

For Tiffany, an eighth-grader at Sewanhaka High School, it was an opportunity to set her health concerns aside.

"It was nice not to think about it," she said.

The film production was facilitated by two organizations. The local branch of the Starlight Children's Foundation, which arranges activities and outings for kids with serious or chronic illnesses, recruited the children, 20 of them in total, from the tri-state area. The Los Angeles-based Make A Film Foundation, which pairs sick kids with directors, actors, and writers for making movies, supplied the creative talent.

Tiffany's film features scenes of her chasing a fake Bieber, spliced between interviews with her family about the surgeries she's endured.

Elijah Blades, 9, of Freeport, searched Times Square for a monster called a relic in "Elijah: Monster Hunter."

"The relic is my cancer, and I'm supposed to find it and try to destroy it," he said.

In a lucky twist, Elijah, who has acute lymphoblastic lymphoma, was paired with G. Mac Brown, the executive producer of "Men In Black 3." The original "Men In Black" is Elijah's favorite movie. "They're movie stars today," said Elijah's mother, Karon King-Blades, 43.

Elijah finished chemotherapy in 2011, and while he has a "very high" chance of relapsing, King-Blades said, the project gave him a boost.

"It was fun to look at the cancer in a different way -- like he was the hero, and he was attacking the cancer, and he was winning" she said.

You also may be interested in: