The Hippo


Oct 23, 2019








Wolf Man by Peter Dubois, Patrick Mulhern, Jake Aldrich, Conrad Dundorf of Oyster River High School.

Attend the New Hampshire High School Short Film Festival

Where: Red River Theatres, 11 S. Main St., Concord
When: Saturday, May 23, at noon
Admission: $7

Eye on the prize
Young filmmakers up their game for annual festival

By Kelly Sennott

For this year’s New Hampshire High School Short Film Festival, Matthew Newton of the New Hampshire Film & Television Office saw 65 entries — only 25 of which could make the two-hour block that screens at Red River Theatres Saturday, May 23.

“There’s this competitive edge to the festival,” Newton said via phone. “We’ve had some people comment on this — it almost feels like an athletic sport now.”
The festival has been growing steadily throughout its eight-year life. At this year’s screening will be numerous documentaries and fictional narratives that required plentiful writing, editing and planning. And this year, there are more chances to see those pieces. Typically, only the top two winning films move on to the New Hampshire and SNOB Film Festivals, but this year, those that made the final block will also screen at the Colonial Theatre in Bethlehem June 11 and many other New Hampshire venues (details TBA).
“This is a chance for all 25 films selected to tour the state in different theaters. I hope this will be a tool for us to get other kids interested in the festival next year,” Newton said. “Most submissions are from the southern part of the state, but I would love to see more from the North Country and even the Lakes Region.”
Teachers like the festival because it allows students to connect with another medium.
“I feel like those skills you need to tell a story in an entertaining, informative, clear way are life skills,” said Kathleen Young, who teaches film at Oyster River High School. “It also gives kids who don’t have another outlet the possibility to be successful.”
One of her students, Evan Salvati, filmed a documentary about Great Bay Rowing, which practices a few miles from the school. With help of the team’s coxswain, Salvati rode the launch that trailed the eight-person shell during practices, and afterward, interviewed teammates individually. He was pleasantly surprised when his teacher suggested he submit to the festival, but even more so when it was accepted. 
“I like that [filmmaking] is hands-on and visual,” Salvati said. “I don’t really like reading instructions. I much prefer movies over books. I just think that with video, you have a much better way of showing what you want people to see, from your perspective.”
Pinkerton Academy film teacher Chris Lord said he sees more engagement during festival season.
“I think it’s a great motivation for the students. During the unit in which we’re producing films for the festival or for contests, I get more engagement, more work and better work,” Lord said.
Pinkerton has seen top finishers four out of the past five years. One Pinkerton team — made up of seniors Jenelle Giordano, Allie Patt and Ryan Fuller — began drafting its film, Evil, last summer.
“They came in the first day with a script they wanted me to read and comment on,” Lord said. “They began shooting in the fall. I work the festival into my curriculum the month of March, but they wanted to start working early and reshoot the entire film several times until it was as close to perfect as they could get it.”
Giordano, Patt and Fuller ran into a few snags along the way — footage was lost, found, scrapped and re-shot — but they were determined to make the March deadline. 
“It’s a chance to make people feel something … to let them escape from the world around them, but also make them question the world around them. You can do a lot through film, and that’s what I like about it,” Patt said.
This year’s prize includes a trophy that will visit the winning school for a year’s time — “Another way we’re making a sport out of it,” Newton said.
But it’s not just about the competition.
“We’ve told the teachers we’re going to set up a day soon after the festival where kids can come in and ask to get feedback for their films,” Newton said. “I think it’s more important to me that [film] is being introduced in schools as an art form and career option, which is why I’m very excited to hear vocational and technical centers incorporating this.” 
As seen in the May 21, 2015 issue of the Hippo.

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