Some teenagers like to play video games, practice sports, or blog on the Internet. Others are teaming up to learn the art of filmmaking as an extracurricular activity, shooting and editing their own short films. Most serious filmmakers don't start honing their skills until film school, but the kids whose films will screen at the Surf City Student Film Festival already have a head start in writing, directing, and editing their own creative projects.
Hosted by the Academy of Performing Arts (APA) in Huntington Beach, the Surf City Student Film Festival celebrates teen filmmakers by showcasing twenty shorts by students from the APA and other high schools in the Huntington Beach High School District. Ranging from suspense, drama, comedy to documentary, each film brings a distinct flavor of youthful vision and unique artistic direction to the audience, which includes a panel of judges from the film and entertainment industry. The APA has sponsored the festival for four years, staying true to its commitment to empowering students through the arts.
The films will compete for cash prizes in the editing, acting, and directing categories, yet the real payoff for these teen auteurs must be the thrill of seeing their own films projected on a large screen like a major motion picture. In the age of endless digital screenings via YouTube, Facebook, and Netflix (accessible on tiny mobile device screens and computers) it's too easy to forget about the timeless pleasure of being under the spell of a feature film in a dark theater–a pleasure that has influenced many filmmakers and beloved auteurs since the beginning of cinema, and will undoubtedly influence many more.
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Aimee Murillo is calendar editor and frequently covers film and previously contributed to the OCW’s long-running fashion column, Trendzilla. Don’t ask her what her favorite movie is unless you want to hear her lengthy defense of Showgirls.