High school filmmakers’ contest videos show why they love Irvine

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Teams of film students from five Irvine high schools enjoyed a red carpet moment of sorts when their three-minute promotional videos were screened outdoors under the Giant Wheel at the Irvine Spectrum Center.

Entries in the “Only in Irvine” high school video contest were presented last week, along with all the students involved from Woodbridge, Beckman, Northwood, University and Irvine high schools.

The April 19 event, sponsored by the Irvine Co., was part of an online contest offering a $5,000 prize for the winning entry. Voting is open to the public through May 11.


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A panel of local media professionals was on hand to judge the videos at the viewing party emceed by Michele Gile, Orange County reporter for KCBS-TV/2 and KCAL/9.

All five entries are posted at, where viewers can vote for their favorite video. The winner will be announced May 17.

The contest offered students the opportunity to create professional-quality videos in a two-week time frame. They explored the theme of “Why you love Irvine” through lush photography, music, graphics and narration.

“Their videos were incredible for that age, for the amount of time they had to work on them, for their level of experience; just mind-blowing,” said contest judge Pete Weitzner, director of the broadcast journalism program at Chapman University in Orange. “Technically and the production value, there were very few hiccups.”

The use of drone photography is notable in several of the videos, displaying Irvine landmarks, open spaces and residents at play.

Many of the students see themselves as next-generation filmmakers, and coming of age in an era of GoPro cameras and YouTube channels provides creative opportunities unheard of just a decade ago.

“There’s no barrier to entry or promoting their material. That’s all good,” Weitzner said. “They’ve got it all [the equipment] themselves and would rather use their own. Of course, what’s hip today is outdated next month.”

“It’s a way to express ourselves,” said Sydney Griffith, a junior at Northwood High and a member of its video production team. “Some people obviously do that through music or drawing or art, but this is like art to us. We’re able to take our experiences or things that we love and be able to create something out of it. It’s super cool.”

Northwood’s entry features a story line of three teenagers new to Irvine who come together in friendship through a scavenger hunt around the city. The two-minute, 58-second video was directed by junior Troy Charbonnet, who said the goal was “to create, tell a story and try to get a message across that would impact people.”

“It gives them confidence … to compete and to learn more about filmmaking and want to be even better,” said Tina Murphy, who teaches broadcast production at Northwood. “It’s their passion already, and this just seals the deal.”