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Last Updated: Thursday, 3 March, 2005, 11:49 GMT
Hollywood director returns home
Sara Sugarman
Sara Sugarman was brought up in Rhyl and returns when she can
A film director has swapped the Hollywood hills to return home to the seaside town of Rhyl.

Sara Sugarman, who recently directed the Disney film Confessions of A Teenage Drama Queen, held free workshops for people hoping to follow in her footsteps.

More than 40 adults and children attended the five-day writing event.

Sugarman, a former pupil at Rhyl High School said she wanted to give something back to her home town.

Her most recent film was the second most popular in the US when it opened, taking more than $9m at the box office in its first week.

In California, in Hollywood, they won't even look at your script unless it's got this format
Sara Sugarman

She returned home to Denbighshire to teach workshops in community centres.

"We've had kids' workshops which were great and the adults have created some really good stuff," she said.

"[The workshops] give me something to do when I'm back in Rhyl. My brother's got a shop and my dad did have a shop but has retired so this gives me something to talk about," she added.

Would-be screenwriters were taught how to format their scripts and make them interesting for viewers.

"In California, in Hollywood, they won't even look at your script unless it's got this format," she said.

Sugarman, 38, was a young actress in the BBC children's drama Grange Hill before moving to the other side of the camera.

Jonathan Bennett and Rachel Jones
More than 40 people attended the free workshops

She won the DM Davies award at the Welsh Film Festival in 1995 for her film Up The Valley and has followed up with full-length features Mad Cows and Very Annie Mary.

Writers attending the workshops found her tips helpful.

"I live in Luton but I came here especially for this," said 24-year-old Rachel Jones, originally from Rhyl

"I find it difficult to put together a full length story with a beginning middle and end and this has really helped."

Jonathan Bennett, 36, who lives in Rhyl, said he had written a book about genetically modified mice and he hoped to make it into a film.

"It's great that someone's taken the time out to do something for us, there've been a lot of bad things said about the town," Mr Bennett said.

Sugarman flies back to Los Angeles on Friday and having watched the Oscars from Rhyl, she has a lot to catch up on.

"My friend Andrea Arnold won an Oscar for best short film so that was really great. I was really pleased for her," she said.

"A friend from RADA, Sophie Okonedo was up for best supporting actress and then the best man at my wedding was Clive Owen who was also nominated," she added.



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