Jumping Straight to the Cut: St. Vrain Valley Film Festival

How filmmakers and film festivals make it to the big screen


Aron Navarrete-Jimenez, Staff Writer

Every year, the St. Vrain Valley School District holds something special for all to enjoy, sharing creations made by student directors and actors trying out their skills in the realm of film. This event, called the St. Vrain Valley Student Film Festival, provides an energetic and creative platform for students to develop and learn their film-making and related skills, holding competitions for five categories in film-making which any student within the district can enter in. These five categories (being experimental, drama, comedy, documentary, and animations) all have their own selective needs and editing, testing each student’s performances as they all learn together in order to progress in and spread the art of film-making. ​​

This year, two Frederick High School students have produced their own creations for the film festival, working hard throughout the whole year to write up their scripts and produce each scene to their wanted vision. Senior and Film Club President Conor McDaniel and sophomore Ethan Ahlstrom, a film club member as well, took their shots at constructing and putting together their years of visions and experiences within film-making. “I’ve always enjoyed watching films and after a good couple of years of it, I felt I understood it pretty well. So, you know, I felt inclined to making my own just to see how it would turn out.” Explained Conor, “I’ve always had movie ideas bouncing around in my head, so I thought I might a well give it a shot. It didn’t turn out the way I really wanted it to, but I still entered it in and thought of it more like a good learning experience than anything.”

As depicted by Conor, the art of film-making is not an easy process. There are an expandable amount of factors within producing a film that all need to be just right to provide the audience with a memorable experience. These factors range from cinematography or the use of camera work, editing and putting everything together, writing a descriptive script to base the film one, etc. Not only that, each factor needs their own experiences and skills required to create just right, really hammering down on the staff of the film as they desire perfection for the end product. “It seems simple at first, just putting a shot here and fitting in dialogue here, nothing too big. But as soon as you get into it, you have a realization on all the different objectives you need to correctly meet in order for it to come all together. It’s stressful for sure, but after hours and hours spent on making it all perfect, it’s totally worth it.”

Even with tensions being brought in to create a likable film for the audience, students know the true purpose of it all and embraced it with open arms. As Conor put it, “I think the film festival is great! It gives students an unconventional creative outlet. Maybe acting in front of an audience isn’t for everyone, maybe some students want to practice their cinematography, etc. The film festival is for all of this, and without it, such possibilities and futures for students would not be feasible on the grander scale of things. If not every school, at least every district should have some kind of event like this for such great student filmmakers.” With such support and attraction being gained at a rapid pace for the district film festival, many schools within the district have already begun or created their own event centered around the student-created films. Such schools including Mead High School, Niwot High School, etc. have begun to hold their own film festivals to celebrate the artwork of students as they spread the art of film-making around even further.

With a growing audience becoming more and more intrigued as they while wait for the next set of films, to students issuing out better and better content from each new film and experience they learn from, the St. Vrain Valley Student Film Festival has been a massive success within the district, offering students and staff a platform to spread their love for film-making and advance each others views and knowledge within the medium of film production.