Emily Hagins: Teen Filmmaker

By Erik Waldman 

After viewing the documentary Zombie Girl: The Movie, I learned so much about the youngest filmmaker to receive a Texas Filmmakers Production Fund Grant. Emily Hagins was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (my hometown) and moved to Austin Texas in 1992.

Since watching one of my all time favorite films The Muppet Movie (you have to love “Rainbow Connection"), Emily had a huge interest in the art of film. In Zombie Girl, her bedroom walls are covered with movie posters. With her wonderfully supportive mother, Emily saw her favorite books The Lord of the Rings on the big screen at least 20 times (according to Emily, 23 times).

Emily wrote a letter to Oscar-winning director of the Rings trilogy Peter Jackson about her giant interest in filmmaking after viewing his films. Jackson replied to Emily and recommended Ain’t It Cool News critic Harry Knowles. She sent her completed short films to Knowles and he gained a lot of interest in her work.

Almost Famous writer/director Cameron Crowe found Emily’s short films “really funny.” Crowe wrote some of the most original and clever films to ever touch the big screen, including Jerry Macguire and Say Anything. If that comment is coming from him, then Emily is gaining some wonderful early experience.

At age 12, Emily made one of the boldest and riskiest moves by any young filmmaker. Emily decided to film her feature length screenplay (90 pages) known as Pathogen. Pathogen is a zombie film, which seemed to be one of her biggest interests after seeing the gruesome bloodbath Undead.

She filmed the movie with a DVC Camcorder and had a lot of helps from her friends and family. Her mother Megan contributed to the film with her art skills by doing makeup and a lot of the technical jobs on set.

Emily could only film the movie on weekends and school holidays. For the final scene, Emily wanted to film at a grocery store, but could only film at night. The store was nice enough to close every night she needed to film inside the store. The scene included at least 30 extras playing zombies of all ages. Emily had a lot of help to finish the film, even though she found editing the most challenging part. Editing a feature length film is always a challenge, even when you’re experienced!

Pathogen premiered to a sold out crowd. Emily was signing autographs to her new fans while people from all over her community arrived to see her first feature length film.

Fade Out

While I was watching Zombie Girl, I could see that Emily clearly enjoyed working on the film. On every film set, there are always issues, and yes, there were a few here and there. The best thing about making a film is that it’s always an experience. Even the professionals learn more and more about the medium while they make it. It’s a very challenging and frustrating profession.

Filmmaking is Emily’s dream and I hope she breaks into Hollywood one day with her experience at such a young age. Move over college filmmakers, teen filmmakers are the next big thing! Emily Hagins should be an influence to all upcoming film buffs or lovers who want to become filmmakers. I cannot wait to see your latest film!

Emily’s made two feature films after Pathogen.

The Retelling


My Sucky Teen Romance (Her latest.)

To learn more about Emily Hagins and her work visit:


Your Comments Please

Send your comments, please: click here

About The Author

Erik Waldman My name is Erik Waldman. I am a Film/Media Arts major at Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Currently, I am a junior studying abroad at Foundation International Education (FIE) in Kensington.

On June 6th, 1991 I was born to Howard and Lisa Waldman in Abington, Pennsylvania. The first film I saw was The Lion King in 1994, and I have loved going to the movies ever since. Even though I was three years old, I remember having a great time watching the movie.

I attended Holland Elementary, Holland Middle School and graduated from Council Rock High School South in 2009. During my senior year at high school I took a filmmaking class and immediately fell in love with making movies. I wrote and directed two short films and I created three short commercials for an assignment. Also during my senior year I participated with the school’s choir in a tour across England and I loved every minute.

When it was time to apply for college, I wanted to go to a college that was close to home, because I love being close to my family. I wanted to major in filmmaking because I wanted to learn more about the process than I learned in one semester in high school. Temple University was my top choice because I am the fourth generation in my family to attend, the school is well known for its film program and it has a study abroad program.

After two and half years attending Temple, I love the school and its film program, because the professors know exactly what they’re talking about and making the movies has been a blast. I’ve loved writing and directing five short films since my freshman year at Temple.

I applied for study abroad in London after my sophomore year ended because I wanted a new experience to cherish for the rest of my life and to return to England. I was happy to learn I was able to apply for an internship during my stay in England.

I applied to Raindance Film Festival, because Raindance has an amazing history of screening famous directors’ films, such as those of my favourite filmmaker, Christopher Nolan, and they have film classes I would love to attend to learn something I have not yet learned at Temple. A film festival is a great place to start meeting people who in the film business and it’s an amazing experience to write about on a resume.

Since January 5th, England has been fantastic. I’ve been exploring London a lot since my arrival and I’m picking up the culture a lot faster than I thought I would. I’ve walked around Hyde Park, Piccadilly Circus, Westminster, Bath, Stonehenge and more. I know there’s a lot more to look forward to, including a football match I’m attending on St. Patrick’s Day, Greenwich, the London Eye, my trip to Dublin, and possibly attending some concerts while I’m here. I feel very happy being in the United Kingdom and I can’t wait to see what else it has to offer. 

If You Liked This, You'll Really Like...

Free Article: From Russia with Film: Best of Russian Cinema
Free Article: Where is David Lynch?
Free Article: 20 Movies That Dance

Subscribe to our free weekly newsletter
Watch independent shorts, features and documentaries on www.raindance.tv
Submission details to Raindance Film Festival
Visit us on Twitter for daily tips and updates 

© 2012 Raindance Ltd.
Reproduction of this article without written permission is strictly forbidden. For information on reprint rights please email info@raindance.co.uk

Emily Hagins: Teen Filmmaker