Two Glendale teenagers are among 80 finalists chosen to compete in the All-American High School Film Festival in New York City next month.
The films made by Artin Aroutounians and Aris Yeghiazaryan were chosen from more than 1,000 shorts submitted by teenagers from around the globe. The films will be shown in Times Square beginning Oct. 4 and judged by actors and filmmakers, including Henry Winkler, Diablo Cody, Dylan McDermott and Kristen Stewart.
While he was a student at Hoover High School last year, Aroutounians, 18, made "Three Degrees" about a man who searches for a physical key in his dreams.
The search signifies a symbolic journey to unlock the truth about his waking life.
Aroutounians, who began making animation stop-motion films at age 13, said making the finalist list brought on a sigh of relief.
He took on the project with classmate Reef Oldberg, with whom he plans to establish a film production company.
Although the film wasn't a school assignment, the teens were guided by three Hoover High teachers: Allison Stewart, Dave Huber and Bruce Galli. The three offered opinions on the storyline, acting and film technique that Aroutounians and Oldberg said they highly valued.
Now a student at Glendale Community College, he aims to study film at a four-year school.
Yeghiazaryan also plans to study film. Like Aroutounians, the 19-year-old began making films as a boy.
While a student at Glendale High last year, Yeghiazaryan made his short, "Battle of Assassins," about a fight between two young men. The film was something he did for fun, outside of his school work, he said.
When he shared the film with his cinematography teacher, Monica Duke, she encouraged him to submit it to the film festival.
"My friends and my family loved it," he said. "I never thought it was going to win."
Andrew Jenks, the filmmaker who established the All-American High School Film Festival, said he searched for films "that just told good stories," he said, ones that either entertained or made him think.
Both young men hope to attend the festival, and Jenks hopes that seeing their work on the big screen with an audience would inspire them further.
"To have two from one area is definitely unique," he said.
Follow Kelly Corrigan on Twitter: @kellymcorrigan.