The Skyline High School Film Festival, now in its fifth year, has turned into quite the extravaganza. And if you weren’t one of the 300-plus spectators who attended Friday, May 18, you have another shot to view it.
The Festival will be shown in its entirety, premiering the first week of June on CTN Channel 18 on Comcast Cable in Ann Arbor. And, it’s definitely worth popping some popcorn, sitting around the TV and viewing some highly entertaining short films created by talented Skyline students.
“This was our best festival yet,” said Film Club Sponsor Joe Samulak, who also teaches math at Skyline. “In terms of the amount of people who came, the decorations, and, particularly, the quality of the films.”
Samulak says the Film Club was going for the “Wow factor” this year, and by all accounts, the approximately 30 students in the club succeeded. There was a 150-foot red carpet leading into the auditorium, LED operated balloons, a star walk, velvet ropes with chrome stanchions, a 30-foot tunnel and 20 posters related to the movies being shown in the festival.
Wow factor, indeed.
“It definitely was a lot of fun,” said Film Club member Hailie Lint, a 16-year-old junior at Skyline who helped write, direct, act and do behind-the-scenes work for the short film “Grave” for the Festival. “I loved the way our movie turned out. Sitting there watching our movie and watching the audience react the way they do was just great. I was beyond happy.”
Twenty movies were shown at the Festival – 17 competing for cash prizes and gift cards, and 3 submitted by the Film Club. Originally, a whopping 43 were submitted and it had to be pared down to 20 for time purposes.
The first-prize winner was Anika Love for her documentary on police brutality called “American Fallacy.” Love took home $500 for her efforts, and the movie drew quite the reaction from the hundreds of spectators on hand.
Dario Silerio won the $300 second prize for his comedy, “Jacksonville Case,” and Courtney Smith took home $100 for finishing third with her travelogue, “A Letter to the Girl I Left Behind.”
Two honorable mention award winners, who each earned a $50 gift card to Target, were Ahmad Kady for “Homework Maneuvers,” and Solomon Johnson for “Dirty Days.”
“There were some really tough calls because there were so many good movies,” Samulak said. “The Robotics Club even submitted a movie about releasing a balloon into atmosphere here and it landing near Toledo.”
All in all, the night was a huge success, but it may be the last Film Festival for a while. Samulak is stepping down from sponsoring the film club, and it is a huge undertaking for someone to come in and fill his shoes.
Skyline junior Iyan Siwik, 17, is leading the way to make sure that there is at least a Film Club at Skyline next year, but there are no guarantees about the festival itself.
“We’ll at least have the Film Club,” said Siwik, who emceed this year’s Festival. “We have a couple of teachers who said we could use their rooms to meet. I’m not sure we can pull together a Film Festival, but we can at least make movies in the Film Club.”
Siwik plans to use a student-sustained “board-of-directors” approach to keep the club alive.
“Film Club has been so much fun that I just can’t let it die,” he said. “I’ve made good friends, and I’ve found out how much fun it is to make movies. It’s something I definitely want to keep doing next year, if possible.”
Lint has also caught the movie-making bug.
“I’m going to make a movie over the summer with my friend, Tristan Kloehn,” she said. “If we have a Film Festival next year, we can show it there. If not, we’ll just have a movie.”
Lint says she never would have imagined she could make a short film, and that she could have such fun doing it.
“The hardest part is getting the ideas, writing them down and getting started,” she said. “But once you get rolling, it’s so much fun.”
And the best part, according to Lint?
“You can fix a lot of problems in editing.”