Saturday, January 3, 2004

Lakota East student has Hollywood goals

By Sara Thomas
Enquirer contributor

[IMAGE] David Zennie, 15, of West Chester Township, composes a shot during a video production at the Tutoring Club in West Chester.
(Michael Snyder photo)
WEST CHESTER TWP. - David Zennie radiates professionalism, confident but modest as he reviews recent achievements.

He has produced a national television commercial, is working on his second independent film, and has his own production company, Mirror Image Pictures.

And he's only 15.

"It's my talent; I love doing it," said Zennie. "I've been doing it for so long now that it's just like a second nature to me."

Zennie, a Lakota East High School sophomore, said he first picked up a camera in fourth grade. After successes with television commercials, he is filming High on Life, an independent film about issues teenagers deal with such as negative consequences of drug and alcohol use. He hopes to complete it within two months, entering it in film festivals while also offering it to local theaters.

David's father, Anthony Zennie, said David's teachers began to notice his creativity as early as first grade, and recalls seeing David's talent with filming emerge as soon as he picked up a camera. His father has supported him by buying equipment and providing business and legal advice, as well as constructive feedback.

"He's very receptive and open," said Anthony Zennie. "He's always interested in knowing how to improve his work."

David's biggest success so far is winning a competition to have a Winterfresh gum commercial broadcast nationally on channels such as MTV and Comedy Central. With the help of Sean Sinerius, a former student at Lakota East, David produced a commercial featuring Sinerius break dancing. The two have been receiving checks for the commercial's showings. David didn't want to detail just how much his producing business is earning, but said it's not just money that attracts him.

"It's enjoyable. I want to get up for work and just be like, 'Hey, this is what I'm going to do.' I don't feel like doing something I don't enjoy," David said. "I could be flipping burgers, but why not use my talent and use what I know how to do?"

David's goal is to build his reputation and overcome any skepticism about his youth.

Mirror Image Pictures slowed down at the beginning of the school year, but David has recently launched new projects. He is finishing a third commercial, his second for SIX50 Muscle and Fitness training centers, set to begin airing over Time Warner cable early this year. Jeff Fossett, general manager of SIX50 Muscle and Fitness, said once he saw the Winterfresh commercial, he realized David's talent was "well beyond his years."

"I looked at some of the work he had done and it really amazed me for his age," said Fossett. "He does great work."

The first televised commercial David created for SIX50 Muscle and Fitness ran for about three months.

"David's really focused on his career," Fossett said. "He's far ahead of his age in responsibility and maturity. He's 15 or 16 and, to me, he seems 28 or 30."

That is exactly the persona that David tries to create. He mimics the actions of other business people he comes in contact with to enhance his own professionalism. Eventually, David looks forward to the day when he can pack up for California.

"I just want to make it to Hollywood, get a lot of experience, and make some money," he said.

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