Thursday, October 10, 2013

The All American High School Film Festival

I spent last weekend in New York City volunteering for the first annual All American High School Film Festival, held in the AMC Theatre in Times Square. This festival gives high school students a chance to showcase their talent by submitting short films, documentaries, music videos, PSAs, etc. It was all started by the filmmaker Andrew Jenks, whose films have been distributed by HBO and ESPN. You also may know his documentary series, 'World of Jenks.' The festival got over 1,000 submissions, and the judges included: Edward Burns, Dylan McDermott, Morgan Spurlock, Diablo Cody, Danny Rose, Kristen Stewart, Carlton Cuse, Andrew Jenks (obviously), and Henry Winkler.

Friday night was opening remarks, a performance by the talented singer, Kait Weston, and the east coast premiere of the new Romeo and Juliet movie, directed by Carlo Carlei and screenplay by Julian Fellowes (creator of Downton Abbey). On Saturday, there were screenings of all the student films that made it into the festival. I had the pleasure of sitting in on some screenings, and wow, were they impressive.

They also had a college fair with representatives from different colleges as well as a panel discussion by many wonderful producers/directors in the industry for the high school students to check out.

The award ceremony was Saturday night, which was very exciting. Ed Burns and Dylan McDermott both spoke words of wisdom and had great advice for everyone trying to make it into the industry. Dylan McDermott was especially inspirational. He complimented every person who submitted something, saying that as humans, we have a need to create. And if you "follow that need to create, you can never go wrong. Then you can never give up. And I hope everyone in this room follows their dream, and never gives up."

On Sunday, they screened all the winning films. The winning film from each category can be found here.

I would highly recommend watching the best overall film, Paradigm by Stephen Boyer:

And the winner of best cinematography, Rokt Lax by Lukas Dong:

The winners received amazing prizes, including scholarships, trips to meet important producers and other industry professionals, editing software, a $300 Fandango gift card, and much more.

The All American High School Film Festival was a wonderful experience, and I'm really excited about what the future holds for this festival. It can only grow and get better. The high school students were very inspirational. It just goes to show that anyone can tell a great story.

Check out their website, Facebook page, or twitter for more information on the festival.

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