Students get to show off on the big screen

They all share a love of film making and for one night during the fourth annual Surf City Student Film Festival, Huntington Beach Union High School students can showcase their work for the masses.

There are around 20 7-minute films submitted by students from most of the high schools in the district, each with the hopes of earning a cash prize, said Susan West, Academy of the Performing Arts business supervisor.

Screenings of the films will be held at 7 p.m. Monday at Huntington Beach Union High School District Auditorium and Bell Tower on the HBHS campus at 1905 Main St. Tickets will be sold at the door for $10.

The genre of the short films range from comedies to dramas and documentaries, West said.

"There's everything from suicides to silly films," she said. "And then there are some that just passed my mind completely."

Huntington Beach High School media teacher Michael Simmons had a good amount of his students enter the contest. He said there were a few that were OK, but there were others that were "surprisingly good."

And because the movies are around 7 minutes in length, Simmons said people won't have to wait for long to watch the next one.

"All the movies are different and short," he said. "So if there's one that you don't like, it'll be over soon."

The short length of the films may benefit those who want to see something quick, but for the filmmakers, the 7-minute restriction forces the students to tighten their projects, Simmons said.

He tries to stay out of the students' way when they're working on their films and his happy to see their enthusiasm for film making.

"They just want to get their hands dirty," Simmons said. "The only way to learn this is to do it."

Huntington Beach junior Cameron Lew, 17, entered his film, "Swung," into this year's film festival, but had entries in the competition since he was a freshman.

His film is a love story between two teenagers with serious undertones, where one of them gets into an accident the other must deal with the situation, Lew said.

"It's kind of like the first 8 minutes of 'Up,'" he said.

Lew, who is looking to major in either film or TV production, had a passion for making movies since the eighth grade, making random videos that he would make with his friends, he said.

"I really loved doing that. I found a really good creative outlet with it," Lew said. "I decided that I could really tell stories about anything I want through the medium of video and film."

Though he loves storytelling through film, Lew said he doesn't really watch movies.

"If you name a movie, even a classic, odds are I haven't seen it," he said. "It's really weird, but I'm trying to watch as many movies as I can."

There may be a cash prize for the overall winner, but Lew believes there is more to the festival than money.

"Yes, we do have awards and prizes for best editing, acting and whatnot," he said. "But I feel this is more of a showcase of films that were made by high school students from the Huntington Beach High School District. I think it's a totally different setting from watching your video in your room on YouTube and watching it on a giant screen with an amazing sound system with all your friends and family."

Twitter: @acocarpio

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