News Column

High school filmmakers come together for a night to celebrate their love of movies

May 23, 2014

By Lori Gilbert, The Record, Stockton, Calif.



May 23--When they gather for Saturday's Yesterday Again Film Festival, event coordinators Jae Yu and Ryan Ozminkowski will finally meet their fellow high school filmmakers.

The two high school juniors organized the event, and typical of today's norm, accepted entries through YouTube and other websites and communicated via social network.

The result is a program of 13 movies that will span about two hours. They range from Yu and Ozminkowski's 30-minute film to some that are 3-to-4 minutes long. They include live action and animation. The program will run from 6-9:30 p.m. Each film will be introduced and a combo will provide live music.

"We've been making films the last couple summers," Ozminkowski said. "There's a group of seven or eight people. We call ourselves 'Above the Line.' " We realized there's no outlet locally where students could show films, high school or private. We're like, 'let's try to make something happen.' Jae goes to Lodi Middle College and has great connections in terms of a theatre and helping out. The Lodi Lions Club and Michael David Winery helped fund us. We had a vision and followed through."

Middle College High School is located on San Joaquin Delta College campus, and the young filmmakers had access to its equipment and the theatre. The sponsors helped create cash prizes of $100 for the audience-voted best film and $50 for the two runners up.

Yu is the true film enthusiast who orchestrated the first film he and his friends made. He penned a script based on Edgar Allen Poe's "The Cask of Amontillado," taking the story 20 years forward. The group made the film in 2012, the summer before their sophomore years of high school.

"I loved it," said Ozminkowski, who attended Elkhorn School with Yu from fourth through eighth grades and is a junior at Lodi High. "We were all best friends working on it and it was awesome to work on it. The last couple years I've had a big haunted house at my house on Halloween. I love engineering, creating sets, and I made movies for that, too. It's like at Disneyland where they have movies before you go into the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror or the Haunted House."

Yu's second script that was made into a film last summer with the group of friends and he 30-minute film will be shown at "Yesterday Again Film Festival."

Yu and Ozminkowski sent information packets to area high schools and advertised their proposed film festival on social media. They drew 20 locally produced films and selected 13.

Where teens once followed the Judy Garland-Mickey Rooney show in the barn model, today's high school students are more technically advanced and created an array of films.

"Some are based on books," Ozminkowski said. "There's an animated one from Middle College that a couple of girls made. It's eight or nine minutes and they composed the music for it. It's really impressive."

If today's phones make everyone a filmmaker, Ozminkowski said the technology also makes filmmaking more challenging.

"It's the easiest point ever in history to make films without a doubt," Ozminkowski said. "But, also, the standards are so much higher, too. What might have been a really good film in 1980, now, because of the level of effects kids are exposed to with iPad (applications), isn't. One kid from St. Mary's went crazy with an iPad ap with blood effects. It was absolutely ridiculous. In the 1970s, no way that would happen."

Despite the technology, and film programs at some high schools, it took the two friends to create an outlet for the student work. Ultimately, they hope to do more.

"The dream behind all of this to not only have a film festival but an arts appreciation festival," Ozminkowski said. "We couldn't do that this year. We had to start smaller this year. We'll have a sample of it We have three kids from Lodi High School (performing) jazz. They'll play at the beginning and during intermission. We hope to have ceramics and art projects in the lobby and everything, all arts there. On the visual side, it's mainly film but at intermission we'll have bands play. I think it's cool. Nobody does that, locally."

Admission to the film festival is free.

Contact reporter Lori Gilbert at (209) 546-8284 or lgilbert@recordnet.com. Follow her on Twitter @lorigrecord.

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(c)2014 The Record (Stockton, Calif.)

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Source: Record (Stockton, CA)


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