Lanier’s Film Team makes it to the finals!


Joshua Farashian

Matthew Correa and his team filming for their short film for the winter film invitational

The Winter Film Invitational is a student filmmaking competition that some of our Film I and II students here at Lanier took part in over winter break. High school student filmmakers around several countries competed to produce and complete a short film. The competition is an experience for aspiring student filmmakers to work with a team, express creativity, and work on strict deadlines.

This year’s theme was “Holiday Horror” and the prompt was “Better Watch Out” (holiday horror genre). Other requirements for the competition were that the film had to be 2-5 minutes long, there must be one piece of dialogue that said “is it getting hot in here?” a snowman, and either wind howling, fire crackling, or bells for sound effects.

Lanier had two competing teams: Team A and Team B. Team A included Matthew Correa, Josh Blackwood, Josh Farashian, TJ Scheiner, Josh Till, Hope Dang, Alexsis Matheson, and Jacob Davis. Team A’s actors were Audrey Case and Brandon McDuff. Team B included Barbara Oviedo Pimentel, Marae Keniston, Adam Beaumont, Natasha Riley, Alex Jones, Greg Hedquist, and Josiah Johnson. Team B’s actors were Amir Aljanabi, Daniela Lima, Fabiana Rueda, and Kyle Guillory. Team A and Team B were led by Matthew Correa and Barbara Oviedo Pimentel, the directors of the two films.

The teams had exactly four days to write, film, edit, and produce a short film that followed the guidelines of “Holiday Horror,” and “Better Watch Out.” The two teams worked long days over the first week of winter break making sure that their films were ready to compete. In the end, Team B made it through to the finals, but unfortunately, despite Team A’s past experience in competing, they did not quite make the deadline.

Team A made a short film about three students who were called to the front office for reasons they weren’t aware of. Once they arrive, they meet a student they have never met before and strike up a conversation about different horror stories. But not too long later, the school sends out notifications about a snowstorm and the student that none of the others had known vanished. In his place was a card where he expressed his gratitude to the other students for the opportunity to spend time with them. After reading the letter, the students assumed it was a joke and attempted to leave the room, but the door remained locked and none of the students were able to unlock it.

We were able to talk with a few team members about their experiences and ask some questions about their thought process going into this.
Matthew Correa- Team A Director
What was the Winter Film Invitational and why were you interested in participating?
Matthew: “The Winter Film Invitational is a short film contest where high school students, not only in the US, but in other countries like Europe, South America, Asia, and others, compete against each other. I was interested in participating because I enjoy competing… and it’s really cool to get to see other works from different students around the world…”
What were your team’s strategies for the competition?
Matthew: “We didn’t really have any specific strategies going into this… [which is] maybe [what] we should work on next time. I’d like to spend some more time planning out things…”.
What did this experience teach you and/or what did you take away from this?
Matthew: “I feel more humbled as a filmmaker… and I’ve learned some things to work on for the future…”
Barbara Oviedo Pimentel- Team B Director
How was your experience throughout this project?
Barbara: “For my first experience as a director, I am so impressed that in the short period of time we had, we did such an amazing job. The hardest part of this project is that none of us had . . . experience…”
What struggles did you encounter during the process and how did you overcome them?
Barbara: “I was scared and nervous that we couldn’t make it because… this was our first project ever, but I think that the communication that we had was really important, and everyone was really nice. We all worked together as a team. We all made the story. We all made the scene. Everyone agreed, and at the end of the day, we made it with love, and we were all happy. I especially want to thank Mr. Phillips for supporting us in this project, for giving us motivation, for providing us all the equipment, the training, and for making this project come true.”
Looking back, what was your favorite part in your experience?
Barbara: “My favorite part was that all the students that were on the set were my friends. It was so funny to experience and laugh about the acting part of the scenes, making fun on every occasion and being positive and happy all the time, and even if we were doing something wrong, we solved it in a funny and positive way. In conclusion, my favorite part was the filming day.”

We also got some insight from other team members about what they thought about this experience.
Greg Hedquist: “Getting experience as a lead sound man was pretty cool, and it’s definitely at the back of my mind now as a backup career in a firm in case the career I want to go into flops. Finding out that our film was going to be shown in Times Square was wild, especially since for most of us, this was our first venture into anything official. It’s a huge honor, and I can’t wait to see what we can do and where else we can go once we gain more experience in film.”
Josiah Johnson: “Working on mysterious guests made me feel like I was actually on a real film set, but being an editor was pretty stressful, since I had to run from the editing room to the room they were filming in just to get the footage. After hearing that our film will be shown in the square, I was in shock, because at the time, “The Mysterious Guest” was my second ever actual film.”
Alex Jones: “I enjoyed being the camera operator. I found it pretty fun, and I was very excited our film got chosen as a finalist.”

What was the best part of this project, and what did you enjoy the most?”
Daniela Lima (Student #3):“The hardest part was coordinating and learning the dialogues in such a short time, and the best part was spending time with the people involved in the film, and what I enjoy[ed] the most, was seeing one of my closest friend chasing her dreams and be part of something she loves to do.”
Amir Aljanabi (Student #2): “The hardest part was honestly waking up that early on a Saturday morning, but the best part was spending time with the team.”

Overall, the Winter Film Invitational is an incredible experience for aspiring filmmakers to take part in. Students learn how to work with a team, manage strict deadlines, and get to express their creativity! They also get to see the hard work of other student filmmakers around the world and learn from each other. In October, this film will be shown at the AMC, the busiest movie theater in Times Square.

If you are interested in filmmaking, directing, editing, etc, you should definitely think about joining Film here at Lanier! If you have any questions you can speak with Mr. Phillips or other members who are a part of Film for more information! If you would like to watch Team B’s short film “Mysterious Guests”, we have included the link below!

Mysterious Guests – Lanier High School Team B – 2021 Winter FI Finalist