After completing a program-wide short film, students in College Station High School’s Audio Video Production classes saw the result of their work as the film was shown at three film festivals throughout the state.
Students in all levels of CSHS AVP teacher Stephen Green’s classes took on a role in creating the short film “Panning for Gold,” which was written by senior Rand Boivie. Other students have submitted movies to film festivals on their own before, Green said, but “Panning for Gold” is one of the first ones they have submitted as a program.
After submitting the film to about eight film festivals, it was selected for the Austin Film Festival’s Young Filmmaker Competition, the Lone Star Film Festival in Fort Worth and the Lift-Off Sessions First-Time Filmmaker Showcase.
Boivie, who also starred in the short film, traveled to Austin with junior Jonah Elabd, assistant director on the film, to represent the movie at the Austin Film Festival in October.
Boivie said he enjoyed seeing and talking to so many people from throughout the world who were passionate about the film industry and having their voices heard and projects seen.
“It was cool to see the other schools around Texas and some people who had submitted films were from California or Australia, so seeing the diversity of films there and the diversity of ideas of people around my same age, it was very interesting to see all the different directions they had gone with their films,” he said, saying everyone was open to chatting about their movies.
Elabd said they watched all the movies that were submitted and joined other student filmmakers in answering questions.
“I’m very proud of what we did,” Elabd said.
Elabd said he knew the film looked good, but he never thought about it going anywhere outside their program film festival at Star Cinema Grill in College Station. The fact it was accepted to three festivals, he said, is a testament to the work they put into it, and the validation has encouraged him to continue down the Audio Video Production path more seriously.
CSHS senior Wyatt Galbreath, who served as the sound head for the film, said the movie’s acceptance to the larger film festivals is a testament to the professionalism they achieved by working together as each person took on a role.
The project represents a return to a way of learning that Green prefers by creating a smaller-scale simulation of the film industry.
Green, who directed the movie, said projects where students work in groups of two to four people are not representative of the real-world experience an industry where 100 to 200 people can be on set at a time.
“I wanted to try to get a simulation of a large crew, but everyone can also have ownership a little bit of this project,” Green said.
The students filmed the movie behind the school during the spring semester. Students worked in front of the cameras and behind the scenes, setting up equipment, monitoring video and sound quality and preparing for each scene.
“It helped get people that maybe weren’t as involved in AVP more involved and they got to work big roles on set and feel like they were really a part of the team,” Boivie said. “That sense of camaraderie and friendship was really fun to build.”
After the filming was complete, CSHS junior Dominic Motekaitis spent hours, including after school, editing the movie with help from Green.
Through the process, Motekaitis said he was able to find his editing style and confirm for himself that he wants to pursue a degree in film.
“I’m definitely going to go into the film industry one way or another, so this was sort of like giving me a preview: ‘Do I like this? Do I not like this?’ So I got to be super immersed in that,” he said. “… I got to figure out if I like editing and cinematography. It turns out I do.”
After completing the project, Elabd said, they all have a newfound appreciation of what it takes to create a movie.
Galbreath said it is amazing to think about how much work it takes to create a feature-length movie – especially with special effects – when it took them two-and-a-half days of filming and “countless hours” of editing to create their short film.
“You really think about every single little detail and how did they edit this, how did they set up this camera. You have respect for the hundreds of people that work on movies for countless months, years,” he said.
CSHS senior Brock O’Neal, who was on the lighting crew, said one of the most rewarding aspects about “Panning for Gold” was comparing it to his earlier assignments and seeing his improvement.
Green said that growth is his favorite part about the program as well, and sometimes it comes as a result of students stepping out of their comfort zone.
“You get some students that they’re shy at first and then you see them totally change by the time they leave the program or even leave high school,” Green said.
He encouraged anyone who wants to pursue a career in the film industry to actively submit films to festivals as much as possible.
Green said he wishes more people knew about the opportunities in the Audio Video Production program with students broadcasting the CSHS football games and learning photography, in addition to studying filmmaking.
Regardless if students plan to pursue a filmmaking career, Green said they will leave the program with marketable skills and interpersonal soft skills they can take with them into any industry.
“Planning and communication, I think, are the two things that kids that come through here, even if they don’t want to do video or movies or anything like that afterward, they’ll at least have those good people skills and practical planning and communication skills that anybody in the world needs,” he said. “… Whether they’re going to use the camera knowledge or anything else afterward, it doesn’t matter. They’re going to have more experience and hopefully some maturity in the process.”