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Maria Paula Ayala

Inner City Filmmakers, Class of '05

After emigrating from Argentina, Maria Paula Ayala soaked up everything she could from her film class at Birmingham High School in Los Angeles. But to realize her dream of making movies, the young Latina needed some practical experience, so she turned to Inner City Filmmakers.

The nonprofit organization, sponsored by AMPAS and the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn., has been training economically disadvantaged students like Ayala in various aspects of filmmaking for 17 years via a two-month program that culminates in a silent three- to five-minute student film.

“Thanks to ICF, I had an amazing mentor, producer Jennifer Peterson, who really changed my life,” Ayala says. “She shared her personal experiences and really helped motivate and guide us through our student films.”

ICF grads find work in all disciplines, from cinematography to costume design. In Ayala’s case, the org matched her with a post-production job on “National Treasure 2.” Four years later, the young lady is still benefiting from that experience, working as an apprentice editor on “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” at Jerry Bruckheimer Films.

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