Wednesday, April 13, 2016


The Northwest Chapter of theNational Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (NATAS) has announced nominees for the Northwest High School Awards of Excellence.  These awards celebrate the most outstanding productions from five Northwest states: Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana and Alaska.  Productions are nominated by NATAS industry professionals.  Students from the Ballard High School Digital Filmmaking Program earned thirteen nominations, more than twice the number of any other school or organization in the five-state region.  The winners will be announced on June 4 at the 53rd Annual Northwest Emmy Awards.  

Ballard’s nominations span four categories, reflecting the diverse skills students learn in the program.  These are the nominations by category. 

Short Form Fiction:
Anne by Jaya Flanary, Meagen Tajalle & Rachel Cole

The Dragon’s Lair by PJ Hase, Jonny Cechony & Ellie Clarrissimeaux

Green Space by Jonny Cechony

My Hero by Cecilia O’Rollins, Gabriella Strommen, Olga Schultheis & David Knobloauch

Who’s Afraid of the Dark by Bergen Johnson, Cameron Miller & Sierra Santoro

Music Video:
Big Coat by Jaya Flanary, Duncan Gowdy & Leo Pfeifer

Josephine by Duncan Kastner, Aaron Miller, Grant Moffett & Kajsa Woolford

Today by Coleman Andersen, PJ Hase & Bergen Johnson

Voices by Aurore Bouriot, Jonathan Bowers, Brian Cropp & Jake Rehfeldt

Public Service Announcement:
I’m an Artist by Martin Bolivar, Jonny Cechony & Evan Wallace

Protect Your Hearing by Elliott Atkinson, Cyrus Ogle & Bailey Wall

What Lies Ahead by Jaya Flanary, Meagen Tajalle & Grace Turnell

Hologram by Miles Andersen, Emily Black, Sophie DeGreen, Jesse Romero & Sho Schrock

This makes the tenth year in a row that Ballard High School film students have been nominated by the Academy.  Last year they received 11 nominations. 

Some of the nominated productions will be screened at the Ballard Film Festival on Friday, June 3rd and Saturday, June 11th at 7 pm in the BHS auditorium.  Tickets are $5 for students and $10 for adults.

Friday, April 01, 2016


In mid-March, students in the BHS Digital Filmmaking Program travelled to Los Angeles to visit college film and television programs, catch up with program alumni, and meet with professional filmmakers to discuss their crafts and careers. 

The college visits included Chapman University, Emerson College, Loyola Marymount University, and the University of Southern California – all institutions ranked by the Hollywood Reporter as among the best film schools in the world. 

In addition to official tours, the students received the inside scoop from recent graduates of the BHS Digital Filmmaking Program currently studying at these institutions.  Sho Schrock (BHS ’15) gave a presentation on Creative Producing at Chapman University.  Kelsey Mendenhall (BHS ’13) met students at the Emerson LA campus and talked about the semester that film students at Emerson College spend in LA.  Matt Law (BHS ’10, LMU ’15), recipient of LMU’s Top Production Student accolade, met with students on campus after their official tour.  (Visit for a look at what he’s up to since finishing college last spring.) 

On the professional side, students heard from program graduates now working in the industry (many of whom had also visited Los Angeles during their time in the Digital Filmmaking Program).   Following a tour of the School of Cinematic Arts at USC, Producer Rikke Heinecke (BHS ’11, USC ’15), Head of Production at Oceana Branding (, gave a great talk on producing music videos.  (She works with artists such as Justin Beiber, Tiesto and The Chainsmokers).  Director Jesse Harris (BHS ’04,, met students for dinner to talk about making commercials.  (Jesse has the distinction of being the youngest filmmaker ever to write and direct a feature film that obtained multi-state theatrical release.  His feature, Living Life, was his senior project at Ballard High School.)  Louis Weissman (BHS ’12) talked with students about working on camera crews, writer Blair Scott (BHS ’11, NYU ’15) talked with students about breaking into the industry, and Brendan McCarthy (BHS ’04, NYU ’07), writer on Grace & Fankie, invited students into the Writers’ Room at Paramount to explain how stories for series television programs are developed.  In addition, students spoke at length with Writer/Producer Jason Cahill (winner of the Writer’s Guild of America Award for The Sopranos).  Students also toured two major studios: Universal and Warner Brothers. 

Thursday, March 31, 2016


Five short films by sixteen students in the Ballard High School Digital Filmmaking Program have been named Official Selections of the National Film Festival for Talented Youth (NFFTY).  This competitive, international festival showcases outstanding work by filmmakers age 24 and younger.  NFFTY is a rare opportunity for high school students to share the spotlight with college students from our nation’s best undergraduate and graduate film schools.  This year NFFTY will feature 227 films from 24 countries and 33 states.  NFFTY opens at the Seattle Cinerama Theater on Thursday, April 28 and continues through Sunday, May 1 at the Seattle Center. 

These short films by Ballard High School film students have been selected for screening. 

Big Coat by Jaya Flanary, Duncan Gowdy & Leo Pfeifer 

Climate Change by Leo Pfeifer & Meagen Tajalle 

Hologram by Miles Andersen, Emily Black, Sophie DeGreen, Jesse Romero & Sho Schrock 

Today by Coleman Andersen, PJ Hase & Bergen Johnson 

Voices by Jonathan Bowers, Aurore Bouriot, Brian Cropp & Jake Rehfeldt 

BHS also has a team competing in the 48-hour Film Off.  Teams from various high schools have two days to produce a short from start to finish.  The winner (selected in part by the audience) will win funds for their school’s production program.  Ballard’s team consists of Miles Andersen, Jonathan Bowers, Jonny Cechony, PJ Hase, & Cecilia O’Rollins.  You can catch the 48-Hour Film Off – and cast your vote - on Saturday, April 30 at 1:30 pm at the SIFF Uptown 1.
In addition to screenings and awards, NFFTY includes forums on filmmaking.  For a complete schedule of events, show times, and ticket information, visit .

NFFTY itself is the brainchild of Ballard High School Digital Filmmaking alumnus Jesse Harris (’04).  Harris made history in 2004 when Living Life, the feature film he had written and directed as a senior project, was purchased by FilmMates and given a theatrical release.  (It opened in Seattle in April, 2005.)  The festival was co-founded by Harris, Kyle Seago (’07) – a Ballard High School Digital Filmmaking student at the time - and Jocelyn RC (Bellevue High School, ’07).  A growing list of sponsors and partners paved the way for this tenth annual event.

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Sunday, March 20, 2016

TreeStory Director Ward Serrill Gives Ballard Film Student a Chance to Grow

Students in Ballard’s Digital Filmmaking Program are fortunate to live in a film-loving city with an active filmmaking community.  Any list of distinguished filmmakers in the area is bound to include Ward Serrill.  Serrill made a big splash in 2005 with his Oscar-caliber documentary The Heart of the Game.  Following the premiere at the prestigious Toronto Film Festival, it was given international distribution by Marimax, picking up various nominations for Best Documentary.  Serrill himself was nominated for Best Documentary Screenplay by the Writers Guild of America.      

Serrill’s most recent work is a big contrast from the crowded gymnasiums of raucous fans in The Heart of the GameTreeStory (, a web-series, encourages viewers to hear the voices of our silent neighbors.  Explains Serrill: “Everywhere I have ever lived: Alabama, Seattle, Alaska, Port Townsend, I have always gravitated towards one particular tree in the area and start what feels like a friendship with it. When I mentioned this to people, I was surprised to hear that many people have relationships with special trees in their lives. So I thought, perhaps I can make a film series that tells some of these stories, that shows people's devotion to trees. In the deeper sense I hope to inspire a movement of TreeStories that will grow into a deeper stewardship with trees on the planet.”  Serrill hopes that audience donations will make it possible to release a new episode of TreeStory every month.  

Serrill serves on the Professional Advisory Committee for Ballard’s Digital Filmmaking Program.  He shares his wisdom with classes in excellent guest lectures.  On TreeStory, he provided an internship for senior Leo Pfeifer.  Although Pfeifer has won awards for various types of productions, documentary is his special interest.  “When I found out I would have the chance to work with Ward through this internship, I was very excited. I’d seen some of his work, which I was a huge fan of, and heard him talk about documentary filmmaking, so I knew that this internship would be a tremendous learning experience for me.”  The DFP routinely arranges internships for students, giving them an opportunity to earn school credit as they learn from professionals.  “My main duty was logging footage and transcribing interviews.  I was able to see Ward’s interview technique, the ways that the footage was shot, how the audio was recorded, and countless other small things that gave me a stronger understanding of documentary production. Ward and I also discussed the structure and story of the piece. He asked for my input, and explained his thoughts and approach to structuring it. Right away, I could really tell that Ward was invested in making this a learning experience for me, and not just giving me some tasks to do. He was always interested in hearing my thoughts on the project, and he took the time to look at a couple documentaries I had made to give me feedback.”

Leo wasn’t the only one who felt he came out ahead.  Working with Leo was revelatory” says Serrill. “He served as an assistant editor and as a production assistant. He is so talented and works with such a great attitude that I would bring him on to any program I was working on. I couldn't have done this series without him.”  Since completing the internship, Serrill has hired Leo to work on future episodes.  “I am a great fan of the Ballard film program. And working around young people who have a passion to learn is very inspiring to my process.”

Monday, February 01, 2016

See Super 8 at the Majestic Bay – and Support the BHS Digital Filmmaking Program

Ballard’s Majestic Bay Theatres will screen the J.J. Abram’s film Super 8 on Saturday, February 20 at 9:30 am. Proceeds will benefit students in the Digital Filmmaking Program at Ballard High School.  

If you live in Ballard, chances are you frequent the Majestic Bay Theatres.  And if you’ve seen a film at the Bay since last summer, chances are you’ve seen A Trip to the Groovies, the new policy trailer produced by students in the Ballard High School Digital Filmmaking Program.  

For years, the Majestic Bay showed A Trip to the Movies to inform audiences of theater rules and etiquette.  A mock instructional film set in what appears to be 1960, the trailer follows two children, Russ and Ellen, as they navigate the process of movie-going.  When the Bay went digital in 2014, they needed a policy trailer in a digital format.  Rather than purchasing a ready-made trailer, the Bay invited the Digital Filmmaking Program at BHS to produce one.  The film students were thrilled!  After considering various ideas, Ballard’s filmmakers decided to follow Russ and Ellen to the movies again – this time in 1977.  The challenging concept required period vehicles, costumes, hair. make-up, and actors who might possibly be the original Russ and Ellen - seventeen years later (see cast comparison photos below).

The Majestic Bay was so pleased with the new trailer that they made an immediate donation and also pledged to host an annual fundraiser for the Digital Filmmaking Program.  The screening of Super 8 on February 20 is the first such event, and will be preceded by A Trip to the Groovies.  So that future audiences will continue to appreciate the parody elements in the new trailer, the Bay also had the former trailer digitized to show from time to time.   

Ballard’s Digital Filmmaking Program provides state-of-the-art equipment and professional experiences for students, and has a well-established record of preparing students for college and careers in media-related fields.  It is funded largely by support from the Ballard community, thanks to partners such as Majestic Bay Theatres.

Sunday, January 31, 2016


The Ballard Film Festival, originally scheduled for February 6 and 26, has been postponed until spring.  The new dates will be Friday, June 3 and Saturday, June 11 at 7 pm in the BHS auditorium.  The screening will feature short comedies and dramas, ads and PSAs, news features, documentaries, and music videos.  Tickets ($10 for adults and $5 for students) will be sold at the door.  Films that first screen at the BFF routinely take honors at prestigious national and international film festivals and the Northwest Emmy Awards.

Generous support from our community and school district have made new post-production facilities a reality for Ballard’s Digital Filmmaking Program this year.  Installation had been scheduled for July, but due to various delays was not completed until December.  Production deadlines – and the festival – have been adjusted accordingly.  Although we’re sorry to postpone the festival, the state of the art facilities were worth the wait!

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