A little Hollywood at Harbor

After pitching a script to his visual arts classmates at Newport Harbor High School, 18-year-old Tyler Carlin went to work on his short film, with some added competition as motivation.

"Mine's about a teenager and a zombie apocalypse world," the senior said. "He's kind of chilling at home with his girlfriend and he really gets a hunger for some Cheetos."

Since December, he's led his cast and crew across Newport Beach and Lakewood to complete his character's snack-driven post-apocalyptic journey.

"He's prepared to go outside to do whatever it costs to get his Cheetos, and then he runs into some trouble," Tyler said. "At the end there's a pretty epic battle."

Tyler's film is one of about a dozen that were entered in the first Newport Mesa Film Festival produced by students and featuring student work.

He and other visual arts students competing in short film, graphic design, photography and animation will get an Oscar-esque treatment during an awards show at Harbor on April 8.

About 100 entries from Harbor High, Corona del Mar High, Costa Mesa High and Estancia High schools have been narrowed by teachers to a few finalists in each category. An ad hoc academy of Orange Coast College professors will pick the winners.

"Every teacher chose their top student work, and they're over at OCC right now being judged," Harbor visual arts teacher Lisa Cermak said.

She and her colleagues floated the idea in September as a way to motivate kids' creativity.

"We feel like the students will have more passion and drive in their work if they have a little spark of competition in them," she said.

In Tyler's case, that worked, he said.

From storyboards to final cuts, he worked on his film until minutes before deadline last week.

"I took this home with me and spent hours after school editing and lots of planning," he said. "It really became a personal, important thing."

Now he's up against three other short-film finalists.

Cermak and students are busy producing the full-fledged award show that will reveal the winners.

Entries will be on display in the lobby from 6 to 7 p.m., and the show will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. with student hosts and presenters.

There will also be a healthy dose of Hollywood glitz with Harbor's culinary students providing catered food and Mesa's TV production students conducting winner interviews.

"This is red-carpet glamour event," Cermak said

Admission is free, but because of limited seating in Harbor's Robins Loats Theater, attendees must request a ticket from one of the high schools' ASB offices.

More information is available at on the Newport Mesa Film Festival's Facebook page.


Twitter: @jeremiahdobruck

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