Breaking into the business – Magee works on independent film, ‘Breaking Upwards’

Wednesday, April 21, 2010
By Cary Shuman

Jillian Magee is accustomed to being in front of an audience. She was an award-winning actor for the Winthrop High drama team in the Massachusetts High School Drama Festival in each of her four years.

But this semester McGee, a 20-year-old sophomore at Pace University, is gaining experience behind the scenes while working in a college internship project to help promote the film, “Breaking Upwards,” which debuted at the Independent Film Channel Center in New York. The film, which explores a young, real-life New York couple’s relationship, has received very good reviews.

Magee, who is studying Film at Pace, is assisting Breaking Upwards director/actor Daryl Wein and actress Zoe Lister-Jones in publicizing the movie. She is reaching out to media organizations, notably in New York City.

“Working with Daryl and Zoe has been amazing,” said Magee. “They created this film on a budget of $15,000 which in the film world is almost unheard of. The two not only write and direct the film; they even wrote and sang songs for the film. They did it all.”

Magee said the film generated large audiences at its opening “and if the film continues to do well, the film will be shown nationwide and Zoe and Daryl will be able to work on another film worth a lot more money.”

Magee first viewed the film last November. “My professor told me about an opportunity to help Daryl and Zoe promote the film,” said Magee. “Luckily I was able to get the internship and earn college credit for it.”

The daughter of Paula Coughlin and Justin Magee, Jillian participated in drama at Winthrop Middle School and took dance and acting classes at the Winthrop School of Performing Arts. She also joined the Saugus X-Plosion dance team in the eighth grade and traveled to New York and Myrtle Beach.

And then it was decision time as Magee had to choose between focusing on drama or basketball.

“When I reached eighth grade, my father gave me a choice between theater and dance or basketball and I’ll never regret choosing theater and dance classes,” said Magee.

At the high school, Magee was a standout actor, performing in every production staged by the WHS Drama Society leading up to her favorite role as God in the play, “Everyman.” She won a Drama Festival award for her portrayal.

“I can definitely thank [WHS teachers] Karen Calinda and Peyton Pugmire for helping perfect my acting skills,” said Magee. “My interest in theater influenced my decision to go to New York City and study Film at Pace University.”

Her internship in promoting “Breaking Upwards” has been an educational experience.

“This internship has taught me a lot about promotion and has given me a great deal of connections in New York City,” said Magee. “I have met some wonderful people working on this internship and have had a great experience.”

Magee will be returning to Winthrop in May. She’ll be teaching Hip Hop classes for children at Winthrop School of Performing Arts.

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