Students Win at Greenfield Film Festival

Shumpei Chosa ’19, Maddie Keith ’19, John Fort ’19, Quan Do ’18, and Ryone Omae ’19 posed for a picture together on stage at the Greenfield Youth Film Festival on April 25, 2018. (Photo by Scott Seraydarian ’90)

George School students took home awards at the Greenfield Youth Film Festival on Wednesday, April 25, 2018. The festival gives high school students in the Philadelphia area an opportunity to showcase their work, collaborate with peers, and connect with industry professionals.

Award categories at the festival included: narrative, documentary, experimental, screenwriting, editing, lighting, cinematography, special effects, and more. Quan Do ’18 and John Fort ’19 won Best Music Video for their project Sapphire Eyes. Maddie Keith ’19, Shumpei Chosa ’19, and John won Best Documentary for their project Agents of Change.

Quan Do attended the festival with classmates two years ago and shared that seeing George School seniors win prizes was a strong motivation for him. Last year, his film was nominated for best cinematography, and this year another film of his was nominated in nine categories. Winning the prize for Best Music Video with his peers and letting their creativity thrive was truly a memorable experience.

“John and I wanted to bring the element of the LGBTQ+ community into the music video. We have a diverse community at George School, and wanted the representation on camera to be inclusive,” said Quan Do. “The process of making this film was the most crucial at the pre-production phase. We had a good plan, and the execution went by easily.”

The original score of the music video was produced by Will Vamos ’18, who sings and plays piano throughout the music video. Messiah Williams ’18, Will Street ’18, and David Mark ’18 also performed and recorded the song Sapphire Eyes.

Maddie shared that creating Agents of Change helped her to branch outside of her comfort zone. Her project group was inspired by Scott to create a documentary about the fall theater production of The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail. The documentary allowed the audience to see the play through the eyes of the production crew.

The whole process included extensive planning and scheduling, and most of the work was done outside of class. “It consisted of shooting many interviews and rehearsals throughout the course of the fall term,” said Shumpei. “As the director and cinematographer, I focused on trying to figure out what the main theme of the documentary was, as well as how each scene was shot with regard to the angle, lighting, and multi camera operations. Post-production editing also took a lot of time with paying careful attention to sound quality and color corrections.”

Maddie was elated to be able to attend the festival for the first time this year, and that her group won Best Documentary. “When it came down to first place, we had either won it all or nothing,” said Maddie. “The moment I saw our names on the big screen was one of the greatest moments of my life. Instantly all of the time and hard work that we put into this film had been recognized and payed off. This one small seedling of an idea became something that blossomed into a film that has meaning to others.”

The group hopes that people feel inspired to make a change in their community when they watch the documentary. “I hope that they feel inspired to not be afraid to express views and beliefs different from societal norms,” said Maddie.

Read more about the Greenfield Youth Film Festival.