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Second Burroughs High Film Festival looks for more participation

Students spill out of John Burroughs High School after the first day of school on Monday, August, 27
Plans are underway for a second Burroughs High School film festival less than three weeks after the conclusion of the first-ever event, which took place May 5.
(File Photo)

Plans are underway for a second Burroughs High School Film Festival less than three weeks after the conclusion of the first-ever event on May 5 at the Burbank-based New York Film Academy.

On that night, sophomore Orion Spatafora’s film, a four-minute production titled “Time Machine,” won Best Picture honors out of four films nominated.

The award includes a one-week scholarship to a New York Film Academy summer program.

Even with the victory, Spatafora isn’t resting on his laurels — instead, he’s trying to build and grow the film festival.

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The sophomore and president of the school’s film club said work on next year’s event has already started.

“We’re already planning next year’s film festival now,” Spatafora said. “We want more students involved, and we want to get this out to the community.”

Spatafora is already ahead of last year’s pace.

In was in the fall that he and his mother, Denise, contacted the New York Film Academy for a tour, according to Jody Burns, a film academy senior recruitment specialist.

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“They reached out about bringing the film club on a tour ... We were very excited to assist,” Burns said in an email. “After I met Orion and the rest of the film club, I knew that they were hungry to learn more.”

Burns added, “We had the club on campus in the fall for a tour, and then we started talking about the possibility of a film festival.”

Spatafora’s older sister, Savannah, a freshman at UCLA, originally proposed the idea of a film festival in the spring 2018, but there was no traction until her brother and mother took the tour of the academy last fall.

“It seemed odd to us that Burroughs, located in Burbank, a big media city, would never have had a film festival,” Denise Spatafora said.

Orion Spatafora said New York Film Academy staff “were very interested in helping out” after a series of emails from the sophomore and offered to host the event.

“I knew that the students had a passion and that they were making projects themselves, but they didn’t have anywhere to show them off,” Burns said.

Students used their own equipment — mobile phones, high-quality cameras and sound equipment — to film their movies, which ranged in length from two to 10 minutes.

One immediate change Spatafora will implement is moving up the event’s date.

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He said the second annual film festival will likely be held in the early spring, rather than in May, which was too close to finals and graduation.

“The big thing is getting the word out and letting students know about this,” Spatafora said.

Burns also thinks earlier notice will draw a larger crowd.

Ultimately, however, Burns is looking forward to a similar experience she had at this year’s event.

“It was so much fun to see the students’ hard work pay off,” she said. “It was so exciting for us at New York Film Academy to see the hard work they put into their films. The students also loved getting to see their work on the big screen in a theater setting.”

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