Saturday, September 05, 2009


GEORGE WESTBERG, Class of 2006

I was a late starter at Ballard High School’s Video Production Program, only discovering it during my junior year when I enrolled in the introductory Media Issues and TV Production class. While I was initially interested in acting, the creative atmosphere and hands-on experience in crafting short news pieces, PSAs, and eventually silent movies got me excited about working on the other side of the camera. We spent countless hours pouring over the storyboards, focusing on how to tell a very simple story with techniques we studied (and attempted to imitate) from Hitchcock, Wells, and many other legendary filmmakers that I had never heard of before.

After my first semester, Mr. Lawrence offered to transfer me into his Advanced Video Production class, where I really started to feel that this is what I want to do with the rest of my life. Surrounded by like-minded and very talented people, and afforded the luxury of creative freedom to pick and craft our own stories in the way that we wanted to, I started to hone my eye and began producing and directing a series of shorts: the music video We Are the Champions, the caffeinated-comedy The Buzz, the documentary Soccer Dads, and the drama Bittersweet. These played at a variety of festivals, and won several awards (Bittersweet won a regional student Emmy). After graduating in 2006, I went to film school at the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University.

I have started my senior year, graduating next spring with an undergraduate degree in Film & TV. A vague title for a major, I admit, but my main focus is in directing and sound design. I’m currently working as a freelance sound designer and editor for several student short films and interning with a local music producer in New York to learn more.

Last summer, I got together with a few friends and recruited some current Ballard video students to work on my most ambitious project to date: the time-traveling comedy Time Keeps on Skippin', which was screened at this year's National Film Festival for Talented Youth and Seattle True Independent Film Festival.

I am nearing completion of my first 16mm Color-Sync short film, Kiss Me, I'm English, which I hope to have finished in the next few months. After that, I will start planning and pre-production on my Advanced Production for a senior thesis short film. One of the most valuable lessons I learned from my brief time in the Ballard Video Program is that you can never spend too much time planning and scheduling to ensure that you can realize the movie you really want to make.

Ballard’s Video Production Program really gave me the skills, the encouragement, the knowledge, and the passion to pursue filmmaking in college and, hopefully, for the rest of my life. These became a springboard to explore the history and criticism of filmmaking, and to study the pioneers of our modern moviemaking language, like Truffaut, Bergman, Huston, Wilder, and countless others, to see how films are made, and to apply that knowledge to make my own. And most importantly, it taught me how to work with others, collaborating and functioning as part of a team, funneling all our strengths into making the best work possible.