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All the best: Cinemagic Chief Executive Joan Burney-Keatings


By Kerry McKittrick

The 42-year-old is the chief executive of children's film company Cinemagic. She lives in Moira with her husband Jonathan and they have two daughters, Zara (8) and Savanna (6).

My best moment

Obviously, giving birth to two beautiful children. Bringing a baby into the world is a very humbling experience, as their whole life rests in your hands. With Cinemagic the best moment was the premiere of our first feature film, A Christmas Star. We had all 12 screens of the Odyssey cinema with all of the kids who starred in it. We also had a big premiere in the Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, LA. It was so special. We're currently wrapping the shoot for the second film.

My best song

I love music, but Cinemagic has just produced the song for the IFA Women's under-19 football tournament. It's just been released and it's called Days Like These. I think it's an amazing song and will get lots of play over the summer.

My best way to relax

I'm not good at taking time out at all, as I have an over-active mind. But the best way for me would be a night out - a few days on the north coast of Antrim or a few days in Santa Monica in LA, my two favourite places. I love to travel, which I do a lot.

My best job

I've been at Cinemagic for 16 years now and every year and month has been completely different, because we constantly come up with new ideas. I love seeing the impact that we have on young people's lives on a daily basis. I'm continuously blessed to work here.

My best advice

Never do something for the money, always follow your heart. It was given to me by a good friend, Willie Moffat, when I was deciding between two master's degrees. The course I chose lead me to Cinemagic, so it worked.

My best movie

Beaches. I watch it all the time and I cry more every time I see it.

My best achievement

The one that I'm most proud of is Cinemagic LA. I decided, after our first daughter was born, to travel to Los Angeles on my own, where I had 64 meetings, trying to get the studios there involved in the project. It seemed like an impossible task, but now I bring 20 Northern Ireland children to LA every year to work with the studios. The other achievement was discovering I had been awarded an MBE. It felt like recognition for everyone who had been involved with Cinemagic.

My best gift

At Londonderry-born TV producer Roma Downey's birthday party in LA recently, everyone who attended was given a necklace with a word that meant something important engraved on it. You had to really think about the word you wanted engraved on your necklace and it was a real talking point all night. I chose Faith for mine.

My best buy

It always has to be a black dress - any black dress that doesn't need ironed and can be whipped out of the wardrobe is an investment. My most recent ones have been from Couples in Coleraine.

My best book

Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren. It's a challenging book about evaluating what our purpose is in this world. It made me review my life and what I wanted to do. I've bought the book for loads of other people, because it's a really encouraging read for everyone.

Cinemagic is recruiting young people for its summer young critics programme and the annual festival in Belfast returns from October 6-29. For more details, visit

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