Film festival features student submissions

With videos ranging from comedies to dramas, Paly’s sixth annual film and animation festival took place in the Performing Arts Center on Friday, April 11, drawing a large and diverse crowd of students, parents and teachers.

According to junior and filmmaker Max Rosenblum, the festival is an opportunity for student filmmakers to showcase projects they have been working on for months.

“The festival is meant to celebrate the work done by Paly student filmmakers and show it to a large audience of students on the big screen,” junior and filmmaker Max Rosenblum said. “It’s a really fun time because the films are always entertaining, and it’s 100% Paly students behind and in front of the camera. As a filmmaker, it’s great to see how the audience reacts to your work, and as an audience member, it’s a lot of fun to see what your friends and classmates have been working on for so long.”

Paly film classes, such as Video Production and Graphic Design, require students to submit a film to the festival is required; however, submissions are open to all Paly students.

“In my years at Paly, I was enrolled in Video Production, a class that required the students to submit to the film festival as part of the final grade,” alumnus Leo Trejo said. “Outside of that requirement, however, I was compelled to put my work out there for people to see and hopefully enjoy.”

While there are many worthy films submitted, only around 20 are selected to be displayed at the festival due to the time restrictions, according to Rosenblum. Rosenblum has been participating in the festival since he was a freshman and his films have been selected to be screened every year. 

This year, the festival showcased two of Rosenblum’s films — “Blooming Spirit,” his fantasy drama film about inspired by Guillermo del Toro’s movie “Pan’s Labyrinth ” and “A Rose Colored Filter,” a drama romance film about a boy named Elliot who is looking back at his toxic relationship.

“Filmmaking, unlike many other art forms, requires you to work in the real world to make it happen. All of the locations, actors and props need to be real. In order for (the film) to look technically polished, there also need to be some crew members other than myself. Trying to line up the schedules of several unpaid high schoolers for several hours at a time during the school year is incredibly challenging.”

Junior Max Rosenblum

This year, the theater and video production classes teamed to produce the films. Senior Will Statler, who is enrolled in the theater program at Paly, was in two films: Elliot in “A Rose Colored Filter,” directed by Rosenblum and narrating for “Memento Mori,” directed by Ori Nirpaz. 

“I got involved in the film festival through a collaboration between theater class and advanced video,” Statler said. “We had auditions in the MAC, after which I was contacted by directors to participate in their films.”

One of Trejo’s films,  “Rest and Relaxation,” detailed the story of a young girl who discovered a relaxing audio track which subconsciously hypnotizes her to commit horrible crimes in her sleep and had actors like Statler perform in it.

After filming is wrapped up, producers move into post-production, which Trejo said is a long and meticulous process.

“Post-production took quite some time,” Trejo said. “We had spent over 100 hours in the editing room, perfecting the film, with a strong focus on sound mixing.”

While Trejo spent a lot of time after school working on his film, Brett Griffith, Paly’s Video Production teacher, never requires students to spend time polishing their pieces outside of class — instead, Griffith encourages his students to get their editing done in class.

Despite all the hard work the producers put into the festival, a flaw seen year after year is lighting issues. Many films, such as Rosenblum’s and Trejo’s, contained night scenes which viewers had difficulty seeing during the screening.

“My film included a lot of night scenes and at some points during the screening, the screen was pitch black and the audience could not tell what was happening,” Trejo said.

According to Trejo, it is always rewarding to see his work screened in front of a large audience.

“Seeing my film on the big screen was fantastic to view. To view it in a large theatre was surreal, and hopefully the first of many to be screened in theaters. It’s an honor to have been selected for such a privilege.”

Leo Trejo

As for the upcoming years, Rosenblum would love to see the festival increase in popularity.

“I would love it if we got more attendance,” Rosenblum said. “A good amount of people show up, but I love the environment of a packed house that our theater program gets and it would be cool to have that for our films. It also might be because unlike theater, our films are easily viewable online, but trust me when I say that theaters are definitely a much better experience.”

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