Arts and Entertainment

Reaching new heights through student film

Aaron Witherell’s 2014 Film Festival entry shows off his passion for watersports.  - Submitted photo
Aaron Witherell’s 2014 Film Festival entry shows off his passion for watersports.
— image credit: Submitted photo

Some students go to great lengths for their films.

For Sequim High School senior Sarah Hutchison, filming her documentary “You Are” was the easy part. Filling out the paperwork was a different matter.

Her documentary for the Sequim Education Foundations’ ninth Film Fest includes 30-plus Sequim students discussing their insecurities and the voices they play out in their mind, which likely aren’t true.

The biggest problem for Hutchison after filming was that each student needed signed permission to appear on screen.

“I was running all over campus the past two weeks,” she said.

Hutchison is one of 28 students entering 15 films in the film fest this Friday at the Sequim High School auditorium. Students vie for upwards of $3,000 in college scholarships and in its eight years the contest has given 70 students $45,000 in scholarships.

Films range from Aaron Witherell’s extreme sports video “My Backyard” to Kalli Wiker and Jaden Rego’s “Bigfoot Investigators” to sales pitches “Instant Water” by Cameron and Kelley Bluthenthal.

Megan McAndie, another senior, enters two films – “The Banks of Iron Mountain” with friends Michael Gufler and Tenille Tosland, and “Be the Change” with Emily Webb for their club of the same name. This year three clubs compete for $500 from the Sequim Alumni Association for having school spirit. Nicholas D’ Amico also entered “Mrs. Morrison’s 1st Period Science” and Danny Willis and Christie Honore “Operetta Club: Unscripted” in the category.

For McAndie’s club entry, she said their film and club’s intent is to create a positive change in the local community and global community. For example, the club raised money by asking students to donate pocket change to the Philippines relief effort and they constructed dresses for girls in Africa.

McAndie said she hasn’t entered since her freshman year when she won Best Actress. However, she wanted to help her friend Tosland who had the idea for “The Banks of Iron Mountain,” which explores the history of the Tubal Cain Mine.

Tosland said there’s a lot of history in the area that people don’t know about.

“We wanted to show them what they’re missing,” she said.

Their group hiked the Olympic Mountains to film and rediscover the mine and plane wreckage from the 1950s. Tosland said she wanted to film the documentary last year but snow prevented them from going, so she went for it this year.

Michael Gufler, who edited and provided voice-over work for “The Banks of Iron Mountain,” said the documentary was the first film he’s edited in awhile after taking a break from the school’s Growl News Network.

Gufler said he’s drawn to film making for it’s diversity with all types of people from musicians to editors to voice artists working for one vision.

“I like how so many different kinds of people can get involved,” he said.

Hutchison’s “You Are” started as a class project for her Den, the high school’s home room program, and leadership class. Her intent was to give people a better idea of students in Leadership, which led to even more students getting involved. She’s happy with the result but given more time she would focus on one person and have the class discuss him or her and go from there. But through their efforts and the allure of college scholarships, students like Hutchison are glad to show their art to an audience.

“I really just wanted to share it with people,” she said.

Along with the top prizes, the Olympic Audubon Society offers an environmental cash award, a Port Townsend Film Festival pass and a computer tablet will be given out to students.

All proceeds from the festival benefit its scholarship fund. For more information, visit or like it on Facebook.


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