Emma Gallaher and Luke Silliman celebrate winning the audience choice award, or the Elkie, at the Student Film Festival on April 21, in Sequim High School. The friends’ film “Welcome to Life” also won first place and a $1,000 scholarship from the Sequim Education Foundation. Sequim Gazette photo by Matthew Nash

Emma Gallaher and Luke Silliman celebrate winning the audience choice award, or the Elkie, at the Student Film Festival on April 21, in Sequim High School. The friends’ film “Welcome to Life” also won first place and a $1,000 scholarship from the Sequim Education Foundation. Sequim Gazette photo by Matthew Nash

High schoolers Gallaher, Silliman win Sequim’s student film festival

A film focused on the worries of graduating high school took the top prize Friday night at the 12th annual Sequim Education Film Festival and Art Show.

Sequim High School students Emma Gallaher, a junior, and Luke Silliman, a senior, won for “Welcome to Life” over eight other films including comedies, dramas, a music video and a claymation short film on April 21.

Brothers Raymond and Steven Lam won second and $750 in scholarships for their comedy “One Spring Day” and Victoria Hall won third and $500 for her introspective “The Definition of Happiness.”

Gallaher and Silliman also won the audience choice, or Elkie award, which helped high school competitors sweep the contest. Middle schoolers swept the show last year.

See the films from this year and previous years here.

Gallaher and Silliman have been friends since sixth grade, they said, and began working on “Welcome to Life” in February. Silliman said he had a bigger story planned but they simplified it by carefully crafting camera shots inside a Jeep in front of local landmarks as they spoke about life.

The friends said they wanted to discuss the stresses of being a teenager and the uncertainty ahead.

“(Society) tends to put so much pressure on life after graduation that we wanted to make the discussion seem natural,” Gallaher said.

“It’s rooted in conversations we have had before,” Silliman said.

This was Gallaher’s first entry in the festival and Silliman’s third. He plans to pursue film for a career and she still is deciding her future plans.

In all, 21 filmmakers from grades 6-12 submitted films, including “Who Would Have Thought” by McKenna Hastings and Kalli Wiker, “The King Heart” by Atticus and Truman Wickert, “My New Neighbor” by Maddy Dietzman and Amanda Weller, “Emotions” by Abygail Mundy and Valentina Simao, “We Can Be It!” by Kristina Baker, Kelsi Bergesen, Lindsey Coffman, Kariya Johnson, Madelyn Pickens, Marley Reeder and Autumn Shaw, and “Alone – Episode 2: Super Speed” by Nicholas D’Amico.

The art show portion of the show also awarded cash awards to its winners including Aubree Young for Best in Show, Eleanor Byrne for the Middle School category, Faith Amaya for Olympic Peninsula Academy’s entries, Hailey Kapetan for ceramics, Dusty Wessell for AP art, Margaret Ward for painting, Anna Miehe for fused glass, Klley Meyer for photography and Derek Fili for floral.

Christy Ditlefsen coordinated the films and Jaye Hall the art with assistance from Tori Phillips, Abby Siebecker, Travis Tviet, Jett Gagnon, Grace Tolberd and Jamie McCracken.

Film judges included Renne Emiko Brock, Janette Force, Sean Sebastian Gomez, John Gussman, Alan Halfhill, Bruce Hattendorf, Marine Jahan Hirschfield, Michael Calvin Mills, Jessica Plumb and Shelley Taylor.

The art judges included Brock, Judy Reandeau-Stipe and Stephen Vogel while Elna Kawal served as chairman for the show.

In its 12th year, the Sequim Education Foundation has awarded more than $54,000 in scholarships to middle school and high school students in Sequim through the film festival and art show.

For more information and to see this year’s contestants, visit www.sequimeducationfoundation.org.

Reach Matthew Nash at mnash@sequimgazette.com.

Raymond, right, and Steven Lam accept second place at the Student Film Festival from Sequim Superintendent Gary Neal for their film “One Spring Day.”

Raymond, right, and Steven Lam accept second place at the Student Film Festival from Sequim Superintendent Gary Neal for their film “One Spring Day.”

Victoria Hall accepts third place and a $500 scholarship from Sequim Schools’ Superintendent Gary Neal on April 21 for her film “The Definition of Happiness” at the Student Film Festival. Sequim Gazette photo by Matthew Nash

Victoria Hall accepts third place and a $500 scholarship from Sequim Schools’ Superintendent Gary Neal on April 21 for her film “The Definition of Happiness” at the Student Film Festival. Sequim Gazette photo by Matthew Nash

The Student Film Festival and Art Show featured 21 filmmakers and nine of their films on April 21, in Sequim High School’s Auditorium. Sequim Gazette photo by Matthew Nash

The Student Film Festival and Art Show featured 21 filmmakers and nine of their films on April 21, in Sequim High School’s Auditorium. Sequim Gazette photo by Matthew Nash

Emcees Annie Armstrong and Abygail Mundy share a joke to introduce one of nine films at the Student Art Show on April 21. Sequim Gazette photo by Matthew Nash

Emcees Annie Armstrong and Abygail Mundy share a joke to introduce one of nine films at the Student Art Show on April 21. Sequim Gazette photo by Matthew Nash

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