‘Preordained’ takes top honors at SEF film fest

The hardest part of making a film, Jack Simmons says, has nothing to do with writing, editing or finding suitable locations to shoot.

It’s getting the actors to the set.

“Just getting people to do what they say they’re going to do,” says Simmons, a Sequim High School junior and film director.

Simmons, however, seemed to be able to get it all together to win this year’s Sequim Education Foundation 2008 Student Film Festival, one that saw eight films vie for thousands of scholarship dollars April 18.

Simmons’ “Preordained,” a trailer of a futuristic thriller inspired by the works of C.S. Lewis, took top honors at the third-annual festival, earning the cast up to $3,000 in scholarships, plus cash prizes. The film’s cast includes Trey Baldwin, Erik Galasso, Cameron Gneiding, Kalan Hatton, Luke Karella and Niki Liu.

“The Day Dreamer,” a series of daydreams inspired by Jack McColl’s extreme sports adventures and classroom studies, took second. Cast members include McColl, a high school freshman, and middle school students Ted McColl and Wes Stromberg.

The tooth fairy-based “Fairy Tales — A True Story,” created by Jaiden and Makaela Dokken and Anthony Ponce De Leon, took third.

“Preordained” and “The Tenacious Three” (cast: Sheridan Allen, Alex Pace, Kevin Torres and Bryan Varner) shared the people’s choice award, affectionately dubbed “The Elkie.”

Other entries included “The Gorilla Hunter Returns,” “A Mistake,” “Drug Stunts” and “How to Rid Yourself of a Supernatural Presence in Five Easy Steps.”

Elna Kawal, the festival’s chairwoman, said she was impressed with this year’s entries and the culminating evening of five-minute movies.

“I think it went really well,” she said. “It’s great to see the kids get excited. I would hate to be a judge (for these films).”

The event is part film festival, part scholarship awards ceremony and part fundraiser for the Sequim Education Foundation. The Sequim Education Foundation is a nonprofit public charity established to benefit Sequim students, teachers and schools. Mini-grants allow educators to purchase materials for projects and/or teaching aids that will assist them in meeting their targeted learning goals.

The event also served as a springboard for Simmons and his dream to start a film club on campus next fall, dubbed the Association of New Media Developers.

“Let’s say we can get 30 people, we’d meet three times a week,” Simmons said, bringing together students with interests and talents in a number of areas, from music, Web site development, animation, journalism and more.

The goal, he said, would be not only to learn from one another but also to publish, print or put to screen projects each week. The projects would include film and delve into all types of new media.

Simmons said things like Internet television shows and series are popular and this club might be a vehicle for users of new media to create and explore with their talents.

As for Simmons, “Preordained” is a project in the making, although he doesn’t plan to fulfill that particular dream until he’s through high school and has some funding behind it.

Inspired by C.S. Lewis, “Preordained” is a concept Simmons drew up as he was trying to finish a book for an English class during winter break. The story, he said, is an allegory of the life and death of Jesus Christ, where one person tries to save his people from being enslaved.

While his project was drawing rave reviews from audience members, Simmons said he was impressed with the competition Friday night, further fueling his concept of a new media club.

“These films are really good,” he said.

Box: SEF 2008 Student Film Festival winners

1. “Preordained” (Trey Baldwin, Erik Galasso, Cameron Gneiding, Kalan Hatton, Luke Karella, Niki Liu, Jack Simmons)

2. “The Day Dreamer” (Jack McColl, Ted McColl, Wes Stromberg)

3. “Fairy Tales: A True Story” (Jaiden Dokken, Makaela Dokken, Anthony Ponce De Leon)

Box: New media club at SHS

What: Association of New Media Developers, a club bringing together students with interests in music, Web site development, animation, writing, etc.

Contact: Jack Simmons at:

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