Paradigm: A Stephen Boyer Short

Well yesterday turned into a bit of a hectic day so I wasn’t able to post. This week, instead of posting a video of my own, I wanted to share the short film that won Best Overall Film at the All-American High School Film Festival last weekend. It’s amazing. You may want to grab the tissues before you click play! 

Til Death Do Us Part

Over the weekend at the All-American High School Film Festival, I had the opportunity to meet upcoming musician, Kait Weston, whose song, “Til Death Do Us Part” is featured in the newest version of Romeo & Juliet, coming to theaters this Friday, October 11th. Not only is she incredibly talented, but she’s incredibly humble and sweet. I wish her nothing but the best! Enjoy 🙂 

IMG_0249

All-American High School Film Festival

After postponing Saturday’s post, I guess it’s about time I tell you what I was up to!

Over the summer, I met up with my best friend Emily (written about here: https://abbeygallagher.wordpress.com/2013/03/30/my-honey-bunches-of-oats/) for lunch. She was running late, so I fiddled around on my phone checking Facebook. Scrolling through my newsfeed, I saw a post by Andrew Jenks (whose show I wrote about here: https://abbeygallagher.wordpress.com/2013/05/22/world-of-jenks-and-why-its-awesome/). He was looking for interested applicants to volunteer for his upcoming film festival in October. Being that I’m such a fan of his work, it was no surprise that I submitted an application that night.

A few weeks later I got an e-mail from the All-American High School Film Festival (AAHSFF) saying they wanted me on their team. I was thrilled. No, thrilled doesn’t exactly cover it. I was ecstatic. But I minimized expectations in case something went terribly wrong. (Because knowing my past experiences, I wouldn’t have been surprised if I got an e-mail later that afternoon saying all the films had been destroyed in a flood and the festival had to be cancelled.)

Fortunately, I was spared from Murphy’s Law this time and over the following weeks, I got information about the festival and what my role will be within it.

The festival is an opportunity for high school filmmakers to submit their best work in the hopes of being chosen to have their film shown at the AMC Theater in Times Square from October 4th-6th. The films are viewed by a group of judges including big names like Kristen Stewart (actress from “Twilight” and “Panic Room”), Edward Burns (actor from “Saving Private Ryan”), Diablo Cody (writer of “Juno”), Michael Mayer (Director of “Smash”) as well as many others.

'Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2' film photocall, Los Angeles, America - 02 Nov 2012                  edwardburns

(Kristen Stewart)                                                       (Edward Burns)

Awards are given for categories like “Best Film,” (duh!) which includes an all expense paid trip to LA to meet Tucker Tooley, one of the top producers in the bizz, a $1000 scholarship for college, an interview with Yahoo’s Daily Shot, and a private screening with industry professionals in NYC. Other awards include Best Drama, Documentary, Comedy, as well as Best Screenplay, Best Cinematography as well as countless others, all providing opportunities to young filmmakers from around the world.

This Saturday was extremely significant for the whole event, however. Along with my fellow volunteers, I attended an information session down in Manhattan. Again, I minimized expectations. I had no idea if the meeting would be in a high-class executive building or in a dumpster. Either way, it wouldn’t have mattered to me.

And so when I walked down the block with apartment style buildings, I knew I had arrived at an in-between place. Certainly not a dump—far from it—but not quite as intimidating as let’s say…the Time Warner Building (as seen below):

Time_Warner_Center

As I was welcomed through the door by a smiling blonde haired girl, I approached a six-flight walk-up. I knew I should’ve exercised more over the summer.

Echoing voices traveled down the stairwell but I couldn’t understand a word that was being said. Reaching the open door at the top, I met Andrew’s right and left hand guys and the other volunteers. I took a seat in a small cream leather chair and waited until everyone else arrived for the meeting to begin. While we waited, Andrew came into the room and sat down with us.

Not having expectations really worked out!

He didn’t say too much throughout the meeting but I must admit, it’s pretty damn cool to sit in the same room with someone whose work you admire so much.

The festival may be intended for up and coming filmmakers but I really think the opportunities exist for anyone who walks into that theater over the weekend. You never know who you might meet. Who you could make a connection with, or as one of my favorite professor’s would say, who you might “make friends” with (much less intimidating).

So if you’ll be in the neighborhood or you want to see the future of film, come check out the All-American High School Film Festival at the AMC Theater in Times Square from October 4th-6th! You can buy tickets online at http://www.hsfilmfest.com or at the door over the weekend! I hope to see you there!

amctimessquare

There’s No Place Like Home

I’m convinced I had the best childhood in the history of all childhoods. But then again, chances are that you believe you had the best childhood too. I guess one of the reasons we all feel this way is because it was the time in all of our lives when things were simplest and in our innocence, we were allowed to believe in the unbelievable, the unexplainable, and feel that the world was a truly magical place. For the most part, we followed our parents’ direction and didn’t have to make hard decisions for ourselves; that was our parents’ job. And we always trusted our parents to make the right decision because they always knew best. And because we didn’t have to make these decisions ourselves we had plenty of time instead to imagine magical creatures, time traveling, and alternate universes. We were able to believe in whatever we wanted-whether it be the tooth fairy, Santa Claus, or the Boogey Man. And with all these unbelievable characters alive in our minds, the world was a much more mysterious yet exciting place, with discovery waiting around every corner.

tooth-fairy

As a kid, the main reason I found such a thrill in these fantastical ideas was because anything was possible; there were no limits. Believing in these ideas was an escape from the real world that I already saw could be harsh and cruel. I witnessed my mom struggle with mental illness; watched my grandparents try to pick up the slack; and even before my dad got sick, saw him fighting against the world just to make a living. I saw growing up as something awful. It seemed like all the grown-ups were unhappy.

And so I believed in the unbelievable with all of my heart. I wrote letters to Santa Claus begging for him to take me with him on his sleigh every Christmas Eve. I left out carrots for the Easter bunny. And once the leaves changed in the fall I pretended I could fly on a broomstick on every gusty day. Looking back, maybe I loved Christmas and Easter so much because to me, it meant that someone out there in the world besides my family loved me enough to bring me a gift and would always be there to take care of me. In a strange way, I could rely on Santa and the Easter bunny in ways that I worried I couldn’t rely on my family. These characters were consistent; my family on the other hand, wasn’t always that way. And even though my belief in these things was a little strong, I was lucky that my family encouraged my imagination and let live in my fantasies instead of telling me the truth and stifling my creativity.

During the times of the year when I didn’t feel magic in my own reality (like when Christmas was finally over), I escaped to the worlds within books and movies. When I entered these worlds, I left my own behind and forgot about anything that was worrying or bothering me, if only for an hour or so.

One of the first books that ever transported me to another world was the Harry Potter series. One weekend when I was about nine years old, I visited one of my cousins on my dad’s side of the family. A few of my other cousins came as well and we all snuggled up in the TV room and watched Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. I had the book at home but had never picked it up. I was amazed. The movie showed a world so much more extravagant than anything I had ever imagined and it was everything I wanted and more. When I returned to my mom’s house that Sunday, I immediately picked the book up and devoured it in days. I found the book to be even better than the movie. I could bring Harry’s world, which was so different from my own, with me anywhere I went and escape at any moment. I loved how quickly he could make things happen with just a wave of his wand and how I knew exactly who the good guys and bad guys were. No matter how complicated the story became, it was still much easier to understand than my own life where no one was purely a good guy or purely a bad guy (as I’ve mentioned in previous posts). I loved transporting myself into a world where I knew that at the end, the good guy would always win-something I wasn’t so sure of in real life. I knew that no matter what outrageous situation Harry found himself in, he’d always find a way out and that somehow, they would solve the problem in a few hundred pages and that Harry would survive his most dangerous battle at the end of the book because, well, it was a series. J.K. Rowling couldn’t exactly kill off the main character and still have a story, after all.

Harry-Potter-Sorcerer_212

Another story that took me to another world was the movie, “The Wizard of Oz”. I saw so much of myself in Dorothy as she left her old world behind to enter this new, much more exciting-and colorful-world of Oz. She was doing exactly what I had been doing with my books-except it was her reality-or so she thought. Even though the movie gave me a completely irrational fear of tornadoes (considering I live in New York) I always hoped that if I ever did get picked up by one, I’d be taken to Oz as well.

wizard_of_oz_001

The whole idea of “The Wizard of Oz” however, is that this world is only in her dreams. In the end, Dorothy wakes up and realizes that “there’s no place like home”. And I think I’ve learned this too. No matter how much I may want to escape my reality at times, there is nothing quite like the life I’m living. Sure, there are no fat men in red suits sliding down my chimney to bring me presents every December but the truth is even better: the people I love are the ones to bring those gifts. It is no longer a stranger I believe in, but my own family. Sure, Harry’s world is amazing and filled with magic wands and spells but there are magical things in my own life, even if I just have to look a little harder to find them. And maybe Oz is filled with people in extravagant costumes and personalities but I can find people in my own life that share just these qualities.

I will always love the escape of a good book or movie, but must always remember to look at my own life and realize that even though it’s not magical in the same way as I imagined as a little girl, it is truly magical. And that’s because it’s real.