Film festival brings out best, brightest of CHS student filmmakers

“After making my first short film, I was hooked,” 2016 CHS grad Hans Voegeli says. “The fact that you can take any idea for a story, or a character or really anything at all, and give it life in a medium that anyone can enjoy is pure magic to me.”

The annual Carmel High Film Festival will be held in the Carmel High performing arts center May 24 at 7 p.m. and will feature films created by some of the best student filmmakers on campus.

Video Production teacher Brian Granbery coordinates the event, which has been running annually at CHS for the last three years.

“Students submit films into three different categories: documentary films, narrative films and open concept films, which is anything like animations or music videos,” the film teacher explains.

In the 2016 festival, Voegeli won the Best Narrative and Best Open Concept categories, for his Lego stop motion animation and live action short films, respectively. CHS alumnus Sam Snowden won the documentary award with his film on 2016 graduate and current Harvard football player John Stivers.

“I think ‘Memorandum’, my live action short film, was where I really started to branch out,” Voegeli says. “I wanted to enter something into the narrative category, and making a serious live action short film was a big change. It was a very educational experience to try out with a new medium and tone.”

In order to judge the student submissions, Granbery brings in a panel of guest judges, who are professional filmmakers. These judges rate the films and then decide who wins in each of the categories.

“The winning films are shown during the night of the film festival,” Granbery comments. “Padre Parents have given us cash awards that we give the winning films.”

A majority of the submissions are students in the Video Production II class, but Granbery emphasizes that anyone at CHS can submit a film.

“We usually have a few people who aren’t in the video production classes that submit their own work,” the film enthusiast says.

Senior Morgan Shirk will be submitting her film trying to capture and examine the value of life.

“The plot of my story is that a character goes through an existential crisis because she is having to cope with the fact that she is living at the expense of her classmate, who is her organ donor,” Shirk explains.

Shirk both wrote and directed the film herself, but other students are going to be starring as actors. Specifically, junior Mia Pak, senior Audrey Moonan and senior Kean Grych will be featured in the dramatic film.

“The film is not intended to weigh down the viewer too much nor is it trying to make the viewer feel very negatively throughout the film,” Shirk insists. “I am trying to study the value of life, which has a positive impact.”

At the early age of 2, Shirk started acting, so she has been exposed to filmmaking for a long time. While she was acting, Shirk started to realize that she liked directing the films and being behind the scenes.

“Ever since third grade, I have wanted to be a director or screenwriter in order to continue to make movies,” Shirk says.

Seniors Jack Burke, John Kostas, John Fletcher and Hayden Stachelek are working together in order to submit their high-stakes action film to the festival.

“Our movie is about a secret organization who is trying to capture someone who is supposed to be dead,” Kostas explains. “The vice president who has taken over is also secretly evil and conversing with the guy who cheated death.”

Kostas mentions that their film has a lot of influences from Hollywood action films.

“If you have ever seen ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier,’ you’ll definitely see some parts in there that are pretty similar,” Kostas proclaims. “‘Mission Impossible’ also was a big influence on our film.”

According to Burke, this film is sequel from a film that the group shot last year called “CT-6: Lost Origins.”

“Last year in Video 1, we made a film, but it was a super low-budget film because we had Nerf guns and low-quality cameras,” Burke says. “Now that we are all in Video Production II, we are trying to create an action-packed movie that everyone would enjoy.”

The most challenging part about filming is finding time the group needs to spend in order to create a quality movie, Burke observes.

“Right now, we have already been filming for eight hours, and we aren’t even halfway done,” Burke notes. “We have a script, so we know what we need to film. But making a time that works for everyone is tough.”

Burke says they are trying to get as many students involved as possible.

“Although there are only four main characters, we are getting a lot of students in the film!” Burke exclaims. “Students like [seniors] Emerson Hardy, Daniel Higman, Shay Lyon, Mac Coltelli and Evan Crane are also playing roles.”

Senior Alex Myers is also submitting his film about a high school student hallucinates voices inside his head.

“There is an evil voice that tells him to do bad things, and there is a good voice that tells him to do nice things,” Myers says. “The catch, though, is that he believes that the voices are normal. So when his mother finally tells him the truth, he becomes shocked and lashes out.”

Myers remarks that he is passionate about filmmaking because he enjoys the realism aspect of the art form.

“I love how you can express what you feel and felt in certain moments,” Myers remarks. “You can’t really capture this feeling in picture form, but I feel that, in my film, I am able to give the audience the emotions that the characters are feeling.”

The Carmel High Film Festival on May 24 will open at 7 p.m. in the performing arts center.

-Ryan Lin