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“Didn’t See It Coming”: First Annual TvF Film Festival

DSC_0167On Friday, March 6th, a crowd of students, faculty, community and family members filled the auditorium at the Academy for Careers in Television and Film High School; also known as TvF, in Long Island City.   The first annual film festival showcased a multitude of short films by ninth, tenth and eleventh grade artists.  The layout of the film festival was twofold.  One portion of the program featured the “Best Of’s,” or what, at TvF, are considered the best film projects in the school. The second part of the program consisted of the competition.  The theme of competition was called “Didn’t See It Coming”.  With this, the production staff gave the students guidelines and a designated amount of time to complete their projects. Several films were shown from this category and prizes were awarded to the winners.

The film festival was an idea generated by the current executive board of the Parent Teacher Association and on this cold Friday evening this dream became a reality.  At the beginning of this school year, in collaboration with faculty and administrators, the PTA co-presidents; Rachel Beadle and Lenore Skenazy began planning this event.  Rachel said “Since TvF focuses on film production; it seemed natural to show student’s work at a film festival.  I brought the idea up at a PTA meeting last spring, and it took off from there”.  Alan Metzger, Director of Production, said that “these projects represented the work of over 200 of our students; 35 freshmen, 47 sophomores, and 120 juniors (not counting the student-actors).” This initiative came with a challenge for the students to compete for a first place prize of $100 dollars and two fifty dollar prizes for the second runner-ups.

Ticket sales were high and there was barely an empty seat in the house.  The audience gasped, laughed, clapped, and were mesmerized by the myriad of films shown.  The first 10 films were documentaries created by 9th graders.  These stories included mini historical records on boxing, on being an X-Ray Technician, and one was on the horse drawn carriage debate in NYC.  The next 10 films called “Found Sound” consisted of an integration of sight, movement, and sound with titles such as “The Drummer Boy”, “Maladaptive” and “Musical Math Class”.  The next 6 films were made by 11th graders and were called the “Best of Hitchcock”. These films recreated the style of the master himself. These projects included elaborate set designs and sophisticated lighting.

Finally, there were 7 films premiered in the “Didn’t See it Coming” competition.  The audience watched 4 films which received Honorable Mention, followed by 2 runner-ups and then the 1st place film.  The winner of the PTA Challenge was awarded to Gio Sacchi; an 11th grade exchange student from Italy.  The second runner ups were 10 graders David Anthony Baez and Isaiah Lee.

The competition was judged by professionals in the industry of television and film.  They were Andrea Baynes, Sam Blackwell and Debbie Barlok.  Ms. Baynes is an executive producer at Lorimar.  She has worked for years in the industry and is an independent producer for featured-length films and made for TV movies.  Mr. Blackwell is a screen writer and producer who worked in Hollywood for over 20 years.  Ms. Barlok has worked as a producer and an assistant director.  She is the current Vice President of the New York Production Alliance.  When asked what she thought about the student’s work, Ms. Barlok said commented that “All of the entries were incredible”.

Deb Dillingham, the Queens Representative on the Panel for Educational Policy, was also in the audience and said that she enjoyed the festival very much.  Deb also had a chance to visit the school during an open house several years ago.  She said that what impressed her most about TvF was when one administrator said, “There would never be a time when a parent would call or come in that his staff would not know a child’s name or exactly what that student was doing in class.”

Since its first graduation class in June 2012, the graduation rate has been 94.8% or higher.  Next Step Production is TvF’s own film production company produces film and other media for a variety of clients.  Known for its ability to teach techniques of what goes on “behind-the-scenes”; students have the chance to write, produce, direct and edit their own films.

Currently, the school has 504 students in attendance. TvF provides students with academic support and extensive mentoring.  Its students learn by working with professionals within the industry and by learning how to use state-of-the-art equipment.  On this evening, everyone walked away having a glimpse of the vast amount of talent that is being shaped and harnessed at the Academy for Careers in Television and Film in Long Island City.

About the Author

School Psychologist and School Administrator by day. Wife and mother of two teens at night.

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