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Films Vary in Content, but Alike in Talent

New Trier High School's fourth annual film fest brings out the auteur in student filmmakers.

The Greg Harris Film Festival launched its 4th annual event on April 25, 2012. Created in honor of former English Teacher Greg Harris, the festival features student films that are nominated in 14 different categories.

Of all the remarks on Film Fest, the most common is that these students made films are shockingly professional.

“It was my first time attending, so I was blown away by what my classmates had produced,” said senior Dan Whitcomb, who was also nominated for best editing with his film, “Spirit.”

Film Race a Big Hit

One of the Film Fest favorites is the Film Race. Students are given 72 hours to write, film, and edit a film incorporating a mystery line and prop. This year’s prop was lipstick which film makers attempted to cleverly incorporate in their films along with the line “I live at home with my parents. It’s just temporary…till they die.”

“The film race is great for people to struggle to find inspiration, said junior Dylan Brennan.

Many argue that the Film Race films are some of the best that are shown during Film Fest overall.

“For me, the best ones were the ones that were made over the weekend. We had tp show four of them because they were so brilliant. There is something to be said about things that are done under pressure,” said Chris Oetter, organizer of Film Fest.

Some of the prominent film makers, who have shown their talent in in Film Fest over the last three years are Sarah Goone, Phillip Choi, and Ian Vlahakis.

Phillip Choi, the director of “Office Mayhem”, won Best Sound this year due to his clever pairing of sounds and actions. “Magic Myles” by Julia Slezak and Sarah Goone won the Best Animation award because of the outstanding skill in stop motion style. Ian Vlahakis and Jon Wren’s “Blind Date” won both the Film Race award as well as Best Dialogue. These film makers have participated in Film Fest for the last three years.

Out of the 30-60 films submitted by sophomores, juniors, and seniors, 15-20 are shown every year at the Festival held at the Wilmette Theatre.       

“It felt a little cramped, but honestly I think that contributed to the exciting atmosphere,” said Brennan of the theater. After the showing of each  film the winners are announced and each winner makes a short speech and talk about their process.

Ideas Come in All Shapes and Sizes

“The biggest difficulty would probably be coming up with the over arching idea that the film would be based on. We bounced around a few ideas but nothing seemed to fit, then one of us said something and the other built upon it. Finally we just looked at each other and knew we had it,” said senior Jon Wren, director of “Blind Date.”

Many directors faced the challenge of coming up with an initial idea for their films. “It was a bit stressful because I didn’t think of my idea until the week before it was due and I filmed everything that Friday and Saturday. Editing took the entire weekend, but that’s my favorite part, so it was really fun,” said Brennan.

“There was a lot of variety and high quality work. More than people expected to see. Films ranged from experimental to funny, from light to dark, and varied in style,” said Oetter. According to Oetter, due to the influx of comedic submissions, he plans to add an award for the Best Comedy as well as Best Performance.

“Film is new and exciting medium for students to display their thoughts and ideas and I think it is great that New Trier has a festival of its own. I hope in the future the festival gets even more entries,” said junior Brook Bondurant, director of “Universal Greetings”.

This article was written by Jasmine Truong and originally appeared in New Trier News, a publication produced by students at .

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