Sequim student films unreel April 16

For one-night, Sequim Middle and High School students transform the town into Washington’s own Hollywood.

Friday, April 16, marks Sequim Education Foundation’s fifth Student Film Festival.

Seven teams entered the competition vying for $6,500 in scholarships.

“This is the first taste of film for many kids,” said Elna Kawal, film festival coordinator.

“Kids realize as long as you have a story, then you can have a lot of fun.”

Scholarships have helped students such as Sequim graduate Felisha Giralmo.

“As the youngest of three, the scholarship money helped me go to community college,” Giralmo said.

She first entered in 2006 and won second place for “FBLA Recruitment.” In 2007, she tied for third place with “Super Sequim-ite,” a parody of “Super Mario Bros.”

Giralmo said the second year she entered, it was more for fun.

Snap shot specifications
Sixth- through 12th-graders, including registered
homeschoolers, can enter.
Seven to nine films are entered each year, Kawal said.

A few rules:
■ No longer than seven minutes
■ Minimal adult assistance
■ No swearing, smoking/drugs
■ Minimal violence
■ No copyrighted music

Kawal said copyrighted music has been a challenge for some students, with one team last year needing to make significant, last-minute changes.

“Students have gotten creative with noises off of the Internet or creating their own music and sounds,” she said.

Categories are drama, comedy, documentary, commercials/promos and animation/claymation.

Kawal said she’d like to see more diversity in the films and a foreign language film entry so long as there were subtitles.

The evolution of Sequim graduate Jack Simmons’ filmmaking led him to make “Preordained” in 2008. He spent more than 50 hours editing it and won first place at the Student Film Festival in 2008.  Photo courtesy of Jack Simmons

Upward reel

Sequim High School graduate and film festival winner Jack Simmons said he’s noticed the films getting better and better each year.

“It’s amazing how much you can do with a simple digital camcorder today,” Simmons said.
“If people are dedicated, then you can pretty much do anything.”

He first entered the festival in 2007 and won second place with “Volition.” 

In 2008, Simmons won first for effects-filled “Preordained” and received $420 toward his education in computer science. 

“‘Volition’ was more of my ‘story’ movie and ‘Preordained’ was more about how far we could go with special effects,” Simmons said.

He said he’d love to work in the film industry at some point, ideally as a director. His next step is working on an Internet TV show that takes place in a post-apocalyptic North Olympic Peninsula.

He encourages current students not to stop making films even if they don’t place in the top three.
“Even if it’s a flop, you can learn a lot from your mistakes,” Simmons said.

Shooting for the future
Junior Michael Cullinan won first place last year with friends Ravi Carlson and Michael Lee for a satirical comedy “Recycling is Murder.”

Cullinan said they made it for a literature class but decided to submit it for the festival.

He described it as a campaign against recycling intended to be funny with “supposed” experts promoting landfills and saying off-kilter things.

This year they made another comedy, “The Summer Wind Came Killing In,” specifically for the festival. 

“It’s in a genre all itself,” he said.

“We took a more complex approach even though you can’t fit a really good plot in seven minutes.”

His favorite part is coming up with story ideas and jokes, laying them all out and plotting them into a film.

Film festival details
Judges from different entertainment backgrounds will vote on the top three films.

■ First place receives $3,000 in scholarships, with no more than $1,000 going to a team member
■ Second gets $2,250, with no more than $750 going to each student
■ Third gets $1,500, with no more than $500 for each student
Additional awards available include:
■ “Elkie” award, determined by audience. Members receive a trophy for their school.
■ Environmental award worth $250 in cash, sponsored by Olympic Peninsula Audubon Society with no more than $50 going to a team member
■ Participants are entered in a drawing for a laptop computer. 
The festival’s poster, designed by high school senior Taylor Roads, has been made into T-shirts available for $10. Her original poster will be auctioned the night of the competition.

Spaghetti dinner
A fundraising spaghetti dinner from A Catered Affair will be available at 5 p.m. Cost is $15 for an adult for dinner and the films or $10 for students. Tickets are $5 just for the films.

Tickets are at Pacific Mist Books, 121 W. Washington St.

All proceeds benefit Sequim schools.

More information on the festival can be found at

Reach Matthew Nash at
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