Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Ballard High School Filmmakers Featured at National Festival

Four short films by students in the Ballard High School Video Production Program have been named Official Selections of the National Film Festival for Talented Youth (NFFTY). The festival opens at Seattle Center’s McCaw Hall on Friday, March 28 and continues through Sunday, March 30. It features 73 films from across the country by filmmakers 21 and younger.

The honored Ballard films are “Bittersweet” by Coburn Erskine, Becca Rice, Devan Sizemore & George Westberg, “Nice Touch” by Alec Maclurg, Ben Steiner & Kevin Vitz-Wong, “The End is Near” by Will Livesley-O’Neill, Vange Spracklin & Ben Steiner, and “Spaced Out” by Justin Amorratanasuchad, Mike Hipp & Devan Sizemore. (Between them, these shorts have previously been honored by the National Association of Television Arts & Sciences, the Westport Youth Film Festival, the Young People’s Film & Video Festival, the Derek Freese High School Film & Video Festival, and the Northwest High School Film Festival.)

NFFTY itself is the brainchild of Ballard High School video 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 slated for theatrical release. (It opened in Seattle in April, 2005.) NFFTY co-founder Kyle Seago (’07) is also a Ballard H.S. video alumnus. Since his sophomore year in high school he has won over 10 regional and national awards for his short films. (He is currently a freshman at Loyola Marymount University’s School of Film & Television in Los Angeles.) Along with Jocelyn R.C., another young filmmaker now studying at Chapman University, they created NFFTY to nurture, promote, and encourage the next generation of filmmakers. A growing list of sponsors and partners, such as The Seattle Times and the Experience Music Project, have paved the way for this first annual event.

Jesse’s documentary on Hurricane Katrina, “Journey to the Gulf”, will be featured in the festival, as well as Kyle’s short “Monitor” (from his Ballard days). Another Ballard video alumnus, George Westberg (’06), also has a short in NFFTY. George is currently studying film at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. He directed “Love is the Elle Word” in Seattle last summer, working with BHS video alumni Aaron Morse (’06) and Emily McVicker (’06).

Like the Sundance Film Festival, NFFTY includes forums on filmmaking in addition to screenings. “The Business of Storytelling”, “Student Filmmaking to Professional Filmmaking”, “Making your Feature”, “SAG Made Simple”, and “The Film Permit Process” are several examples. Admission to these forums is free of charge! For a complete schedule of events, show times, and ticket information, visit http;//