High school producers to be awarded in Oscars-themed film contest

Last year’s winners of the TUHSD film festival took their trophy back to McClintock High School after the Oscars-themed event, which features an awards ceremony for all of the contestants. – Photo courtesy TUHSD

Film and television students from the Tempe Union High School District just put a wrap on competition in the district’s second annual film festival.

The event is an opportunity for beginning and advanced film students to showcase their developing skills gained through the film and TV curriculum, part of the district’s career and technical education program. Students from McClintock, Corona, Mountain Pointe, and Desert Vista high schools submitted entries this year.

The completion culminates on “Premiere Night,” at 6 p.m. Friday, Feb. 21, in the auditorium at Corona del Sol High School. Friends, family, teachers, school administrators, district administrators and TUHSD school board members, judges, community members and students who submitted entries will have an opportunity to view this year’s films, and winners will be announced during the Oscars-themed event.

The film festival is part of a district-wide initiative encouraging higher levels of student engaged learning and project based assessment. One of last year’s winners, Kevin Randall from McClintock High School, said the event was “the best thing I’ve been a part of in my four years in high school.”

Competitors were given an envelope of required elements Feb. 6 and had until 11:59 PM Feb.11 to plan, write, film, edit and submit their entries. The required elements were:  prop, cookie monster, lines of dialogue (“That’s not what you said last time” and “Dutch Bros is so overrated”) and a required character, Skylar the Journalist.

Students were  free to produce any genre of film they wanted as long as it included the required elements and the run time of the film was between three and five minutes with 30 seconds extra allowed for credits.

Among this year’s judging panel are five celebrity judges with connections to the Hollywood film industry. Sarah Jackson, an executive producer with James Cordons Fulwell’s 73 Production Company and a graduate of Marcos de Niza High School (’98).

Sarah was most recently the Executive Producer behind such shows as Holey Moley with Steph Curry and Seatbelt Physic as well as the Executive Producer of The Amazing Race. Over the past 10 years, she has worked on shows such as Hell’s Kitchen, Big Brother, Dance Moms, Billion Dollar Buyer and more.

Vladimir Cassel works at The Story Factory and is responsible for numerous NY Times bestsellers and their film/TV adaptations such as Salinger, and Savages. Jen Kim Nagakawa has edited television series such as Bar Rescue (Spike), Below Deck (Bravo), and Are You The One (MTV).

Nagakawa has also cut trailers for motion pictures such as Clint Eastwood’s Gran Torino and Ice Age. Manny Monatana stars as “Rio” in NBC’s hit series Good Girls and has appeared in series such as Graceland and ABC’s Conviction. Montana also appeared opposite Clint Eastwood in The Mule

The career and technical education program at Tempe Union offers many program choices with opportunities for industry certifications and participation in student organizations. Students have dual-enrollment opportunities with local community colleges and universities and can participate in successful work programs during their senior year.

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