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Recent graduate wins 'Best Editing: Young Filmmaker' Award 


August 4, 2014 

Several Niskayuna High School filmmakers from Stephen Honicki's Studio in Video program were selected to have their work screened at this year's seventh annual Ballston Spa Film Festival. The international festival was held Friday August 1st and Saturday August 2nd in Iron Spring Park Park and other locations in the village.

This year's festival presented 38 short films, ranging in length from 1 to 18 minutes each. The films come from young filmmakers, emerging student filmmakers and established (but still emerging) filmmakers. Submissions to this established, local film festival arrive from across the country as well as all over the globe. Many of the films have won awards at other film festivals, while some will be making their world premiere in Ballston Spa.

More than fifty short films from around the world were submitted and reviewed for consideration in the festival. Just under half the films are from New York State; eleven are from elsewhere in the US, including Alaska, California and Florida. Ten films come from international filmmakers in eight other countries; Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Greece, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Mexico and Poland. There will be nine world premieres – short films which are making their first festival screening anywhere in the world right here in Ballston Spa.

Of the 18 films from young filmmakers - those 21 or younger - that were shown at the festival, Niskayuna High School filmmakers were responsible for seven.

Short films from around the world were judged by local professionals along with Hollywood filmmakers. Awards are given in categories for young filmmakers (students under 21 years old) and several general categories for professional adult filmmakers. In this year's festival, recent Niskayuna High School graduate Calvin O'Connor earned the best editing for a young filmmaker award for his stop-action short, "A Noteworthy Production." You can read more about the film below.

In all, the following student films from NHS were showcased at this year's sixth annual festival:

Yearning– Benjamin Burke
Concussion – Justin Carter
Crime of Passion – Victoria Aidala / Benjamin Burke / Erick McCarthy / Nicole Hawthorne
Making An Impression – Shea McGrinder / Michael Sise
A Noteworthy Production – Calvin O'Connor
Unexpected Gratitude –Arth Naik
A College Try – James Azzaretti

A College Try, written, directed and starring James Azzaretti (and co-directed by Metin Ozisik) explores a teenage boy's awkward exchange when asked where he wants to go to college. The boy is taken back and has an internal debate on how to answer the question. The film was inspired by James' own dilemmas about college and what he wants to do with his life as one must always write from their experiences. He hoped in his film to accurately depict the struggle of high school students who must pick where they want to go and what they want to do. Furthermore, the film deals with the way James handles and debates decisions with himself. This film earned "Best Comedy" awards at the Catamount Film Festival – High School Filmmakers Showcase and the Capital Region Media Arts Festival this past spring.

picture of two student actors in the film
Scene from "A College Try"

Another film on this year's slate is, A Noteworthy Production, written and directed by Calvin O'Connor. A Noteworthy Production is a stop-action short film designed to have a somewhat simple storyline for such a complicated process; the film follows a workspace doodle that helps his creator finish a video project. This film won the "Best Animation" award at this past May's Rod Serling Video Festival held in Binghamton, NY, as well as "Best Overall Film" at this year's Capital Region Media Arts Festival.

scene from a noteworthy production - post-it note
Scene from "A Noteworthy Production"

The production team of Shea McGrinder and Michael Sise had their film, Making An Impression, screened on Friday night at 9 pm at Old Iron Spring Park. Making An Impression is the coming of age story about a boy trying to shed a positive light on himself for a college interviewer. Little does he know that he is about to partake on a journey into his inner self as he sits before the women who might just have the power to decide his future. He uncovers the truth about himself as he hides behind a protective wall of lies used to mask the life he truly lives outside the walls of the University. This film won the "Best Screenwriting" award at this year's Rod Serling Video Festival

two student actors talking
Scene from "Making An Impression"

You may view view the Niskayuna entries in the festival – plus other outstanding films - from Niskayuna High School on the "NHSshortcuts" channel on YouTube:

For more information about the Ballston Spa Film Festival, visit its official website at