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Training for the red carpet
Stills from Savannah Arts Academy films

High school students at Savannah Arts Academy will experience a night of celebrity treatment at their fifth annual Film Festival this Friday. Every movie in the festival is the creation of Savannah Arts Academy students.

Communication arts students attend a reception before festival, then they arrive by limousine at the front of the school to walk the red carpet. TV stations serve as “paparazzi” for the event.

Everything from public service announcements to commercials, to music videos, to short films, to news stories, and animations are included in the festival, which highlights work of students in grades 9–12. Film classes are divided into groups of 3–5 students call production groups, and each production group works together to complete projects.

“We spend a lot of time working on the ideas to see if we can flush out our idea with a script that will bring the message across well on video. We make sure that we have the necessary equipment to accomplish certain shots. We also spend a lot of time planning. We have to make sure that everyone can get together at the same time to shoot,” says Lester Lee, a member of the FMR Productions group.

“So, there’s always difficulties in organizing to get us all together, but once we get that arranged, we shoot, and then we spend a lot of time editing. But, it’s not always shoot and then edit; it’s not that cut and dry. Often, we’re shooting and editing at the same time,” he says.

“One of the most important things is trying to get all of your elements together at once. Sometimes you will be ready to film, but your actors haven’t shown up. Other times, members of your group aren’t available. It’s hard to coordinate everything. But, we’re a good team, and eventually, we get things all worked out,” comments Delaney Ward, a member of the Common Sense Productions group.

“We share responsibilities and take suggestions from each other. It helps to make the project everyone’s project,” she says.

What videos will be displayed in the Film Festival are not unveiled to the students until the event. However, “by now, most students know about their own work and if it’s up to the caliber of the Film Festival,” comments Lee.

Here are some films that Lee’s and Ward’s production groups hope to see from their own groups in the festival:

News story: An “Online Movie Review” segment.

Short story: Ghost story genre.

Commercial: An ad for Juicy Juice

Public Service Announcement: To  promote safe driving without distractions.

Music Video: A video for the song “Amber” by 311. 

“We have added something special this year.  It’s called the Frog Festival, where students were competing to create a video that incorporates three specific things into their film,” says Berringson.

Berringson tells what he hopes for the Film Festival this year:

“Every year, everything goes pretty smoothly, and I hope it’s the same for this year. We’re always hoping that a big name will show up. Last year, Stratton Leopold showed up, and we also had some local filmmakers that came and checked it out. I’d like to see more people from the community, especially the art community, coming to the event.”

Ward explains her excitement for the event:

“The thought of having your work in the Film Festival is pretty exciting.  It’s exciting for the people at the Film Festival to see your project, to see what you’ve worked so hard for the whole year,” she says.

“It’s nice for them to see sort of, the fruits of your labor, and it’s nice to have everyone appreciate and enjoy your work.”

Savannah Arts Academy Film Festival

When: May 7; silent auction to benefit Future Business Leaders of America begins at 5:30 p.m.; Red Carpet event begins 6 p.m.; Festival screenings begin at 7 p.m.

Cost: Adults $10, students, children, seniors $5, balcony seating $15