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The Student News Site of Clayton High School.

The Globe

The Student News Site of Clayton High School.

The Globe

CHS Film Festival inspires creativity filmmaking

The second annual CHS Film Festival has a new deadline for submitting entries: April 15.

Veteran directors Ryan Shields and Nate Townsend pioneered the film festival at the school last year with the support of staff educational technologist David Hoffman.

“For the first year, I was really pleased with the number of entries and the variety and quality of the entries,” Hoffman said. “I wish more people had turned out for the event.”

Though the number of people who participated in the festival was relatively small this year, Hoffman said that last year’s festival reflected students’ and sponsors’ interest in making films.

He said that in particular, the Film in American Society class offered at CHS has sparked student interest in the film festival.

Students who participated in the festival created a variety of films that revealed a genuine passion for the art of filmmaking.

Senior Jake Leech, who participated in the festival last year, plans to submit an entry for this year’s festival as well.

“I had a really good time last year and Mr. Hoffman was really encouraging, so I thought I would try it again this year,” Leech said. “My film last year was a music video with a song I’d written myself. It was kind of ambiguous; I messed around with a bunch of different clips that I’d collected over the winter.”

Leech appreciates film for its ability to bring themes to life. One of his main sources of inspiration is Michel Gondry, who directed music videos for Bjork, Flight of the Conchords, and several other artists.

“I like film a lot because it’s art that can grab your attention; it’s not just a picture on the wall but it’s something that you can interpret in different ways,” Leech said. Music videos are like poetry with sound behind them. Film is like a story with more emphasis on motion.”

Festival director Ryan Shields said he enjoyed the variety of films produced by students but wishes more people would participate in the festival this year.

“We got to see a lot of different people and their films, so it wasn’t like everything was action or everything was drama,” Shields said. “The main negative thing was that even though it was our first year, I would have liked to see more people come out with a few more films.”

Shields also wants students to focus on lengthening their movies.

“I like to see longer films because they are really good to watch and you really get into them,” Shields said. “A lot of the films came from the Film in American Society class, so they were about seven minutes long, but if you really get into it and it’s over after seven minutes, you want to see more.”

Shields developed his passion for making movies during his childhood, observing that movies are an ideal vehicle for transmitting stories.

“I got started [with film making] when I was really young because I like to tell stories and I like to watch movies, and they [filmmaking and storytelling] go hand in hand,” Shields said.

Both Shields and Hoffman acknowledge that amateur filmmakers can face several difficulties through the process. However, the proficiency of participants in last year’s festival impressed the judges.

“It’s very difficult to use editing to create a flow in your story,” Hoffman said. “Most editors use too much roll in a scene; they’re reluctant to cut anything they’ve filmed. Many of our participants last year showed real skill in their ability to edit.”

In addition to having technical difficulties, filmmakers also face challenges that might seem minor to students who have never attempted to make movies.

“I think the main [challenge] is getting time of day correct; for this [year’s film] I have actual characters running around and doing things,” Leech said. “Getting the time of day correct and making it work fluently throughout the rest of the film is the hardest part.”

Finding the right people is crucial.

“You have to find the right group of people that can work in the right frame of time,” Shields said. “I was supposed to make a movie this year and it didn’t work out because of scheduling conflicts. Getting people really committed and figuring out when people can work is the most challenging part.”

The films are judged by the Shields, Townsend, and Hoffman, but the festival directors also involve the staff as a whole by encouraging teachers to review the movies. Several criteria are used to evaluate the films.

“[We evaluate] quality of video shoot, quality of video edit, enhancement of video, including titles, graphics, special effects, background music, sound effects, content, creativity and video premise (plot),” Hoffman said.

The directors decide the categories for movies after they view all the submissions.

This allows students to be flexible and experimental with their work, because they are not restricted to a single category as they make their movies.

“I would advice people to be creative, try to be as original as possible, and just have fun with it,” Shields said. “You get to show your creative side and it’s really cool that you can take your ideas and put them onto paper and then put them into a film, so it [filmmaking] is a great art form.”  ⎫

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