Houston, TX- George Lucas stated, “Learning to make film is very easy. Learning what to make films about is very hard.” However, this wasn’t the case for many Aldine students as they competed in the second annual Aldine ISD Film and Photography Festival. Many students had very creative topics that they were excited to showcase to their parents, teachers, administration, and even their peers. The festival was opened to all students in the district ranging from elementary to high school.
The idea for the festival came from Rodrigo Flores, who attended Benjamin Davis High School, and was involved in the Aviator program, which is a program that focuses on broadcast production. The question he raised was, “Can we have a student film festival?” Another student responded by stating, “Why Not?” The final answer was, “Okay, let’s try it.” The first year for the festival consisted of 12 films from students at four different schools, grades 6th-12th. However, this year, the festival had a total of 122 films submitted from students in grades Pre-K through high school. The photography portion was added in the contest thanks to the suggestion of Dr. Michealann Kelly. In addition, nearly 400 photographs were submitted from 40 different campuses. Most of the students who submitted their films and photographs had little to no help with their work of arts. There were not many restrictions in order to participate in the festival, because their passion is fully ignited when you let them become free in what they love to do. The event was student led and students from Davis High School served as this year’s host and hostesses. They were Artavia Hall, Kalina Taylor and Josh McCulloch.
The films ranged from topics such as friendship, bullying, and even suicide just to name a few. Students had an option to choose which category they wanted to submit their film to. These categories included a 60 second short, which is a film that tells a story in only 60 seconds, documentary, narrative, animation, and campus commercial, which allowed students to talk about how much they love their school. To help make the night even more exciting, students who won first place, won prizes such as cameras, Chrome Books, and even MacBooks. There were many sponsors who helped contribute to this successful event such as The Aldine Education Foundation, Solid I.T. Networks, Extreme Networks, RTI, ITECH AVS, Promethean, Pro Computing, and CDW-G.
Bradley Kaplan, the event coordinator was very excited, and thrilled with how many people attended. He expressed, “These students are very talented and I am glad that we were able to give them a platform to showcase their skills and passion.” Allison Messenger, who assisted with the event, and who is the Journalism and English teacher at Davis High School was very proud of how much the festival grew in just one year. She was also proud of the hardworking people that worked on the festival, including Davis High School students who worked for hours on the logistics of the script and live streaming the event. Messenger was ecstatic with what the high school students produced, but she was also fascinated with what the elementary students accomplished as well. She stated, “While I am always impressed by what my high school students can accomplish, I was blown away by the creativity of these tiny artists.” Although she was happy with the results, there is always room for improvement. She expressed, “My goal is to see more students discover animation. I feel that many of our students have great skills in that category, but didn’t realize the opportunity that was there. I would also like to see a family night workshop of sorts where they show parents and children how easy and fun it can be.”
The students who competed enjoyed the festival not only because of their submission, but to support other participants as well. Michelle Koy, a junior at Davis High School stated, “The film festival was really a new experience for me because when Mr. Alexander told us we were one of the winning candidates, I was honestly dumbfounded that we won second place…I thought it was funny because we didn’t even have a script, we just based it on our theme and went from there. I would honestly do it again next year because it was fun overall.” Briana Topete, a senior at Davis High School won first place in her category, and received a MacBook for her hard work. She expressed, “It feels indescribable to be a winner because with this Mac, now I can edit all of my videos on my own, and I can continue my passion.”
The festival was held at the Aldine ISD’s M.O. Campbell Education Center, which was filled with many people who have been waiting patiently for the event to take place. Students were able to express themselves, and showcase their passion. Some students would like to turn film making into a career. The festival gave students a chance to have fun, be creative, and do something different that they don’t necessarily do on a daily basis. If you did not get a chance to attend this event, be sure to be on the lookout for it in Spring, 2018.
Article and Photos By: Chelsea Davis-Bibb, M.Ed.