Grade 10 G.W. Graham students, Eliza Telford (left) and Maddie Brown have submitted their five-minute documentary, Insecure, to the inaugural Chilliwack Student Film Festival. (Jenna Hauck/ The Progress)

New Chilliwack film fest showcases teen cinematography

The inaugural Chilliwack Student Film Festival is open to kids in Grades 9 to 12

There’s a new film festival in town and it’s geared entirely towards high school students.

The Chilliwack Student Film Festival is a celebration of short films created by talented students in Chilliwack. Those in Grades 9 to 12 and who attend Chilliwack, Sardis, or G.W. Graham secondaries are eligible to enter.

The event was created by GWG film/art/drama teacher Michael Florizone.

“I thought it would be a good idea to celebrate student film,” he says.

Two of his Grade 10 students, Eliza Telford, 16, and Maddie Brown, 15, agree. Both have taken traditional arts classes, like drawing and painting, and ended up falling in love with film in the end.

“I love that it is a different way to show my creativity and there are so many open ends within film,” says Eliza. “There are so many skills to learn and endless things to create.”

“I wanted to try a different approach in the arts area, so I took film,” says Maddie. “I found I much rather like being behind the camera and editing… rather than being onstage. I felt way more comfortable in the classroom.”

For their final project in Florizone’s Film and Television 11 class, together they created a five-minute documentary called Insecure. It’s a piece about five fellow female students who share their stories on what makes them anxious.

“It was very remarkable to shoot,” says Maddie.

“It made me cry,” says Florizone. “It’s very sensitive in nature, it’s very personal. It was an awesome expression of what it’s like to be a teenage girl.”

Eliza and Maddie are submitting Insecure to the Chilliwack Student Film Festival, plus each of them is working on a second film to submit.

“It’s really exciting to get to be a part of something that is so new and different. There are plenty of showcases of traditional student art at the Cultural Centre, but we don’t have anything that showcases the other ways for students to express their creativity, so this is a really big opportunity,” says Eliza.

“It also gets people interested in film and, in a way, pushes the creators of the films to work harder and become eligible to submit to bigger festivals like the B.C. Student Film Festival,” she adds.

With $3.4 billion generated last year in the B.C. film industry, Florizone thinks his new film festival is a great way to show teens what it’s like to be involved in film.

“The potential for this is amazing… for getting kids hooked on this, and as a career, and just as a fun thing to do in high school, too.”

He’s a believer in learning from your mistakes. He uses his own “mess-ups” as examples when teaching his students, he says.

“You have to make a ton of mistakes to learn. I want students who submit films to go for it and make tons of mistakes. You gain confidence through those mistakes. You have to commit, and fail a lot and grow from trying. It’s hard work,” he says.

There is no fee for students to submit films to the Chilliwack Student Film Festival. Categories include comedy, drama, documentary, animation, silent, and musical; each are divided into either the one-minute category or the over-one-minute category (up to 12 minutes). There is also a one-minute series category.

The deadline to submit films is noon on Friday, May 3. Submit by sending a Drop Box link or YouTube link of your HD video to Do not attach your video in the email.

“I really hope the film festival does well,” says Eliza. “Hopefully it will bring more students to be interested in film because there are so many stories that still have to be told.”

The Chilliwack Student Film Festival itself takes place at the GWG theatre on Thursday, May 23 at 7 p.m. Admission is $5 at the door. There will also be T-shirts and other swag for sale, plus prizes.

For more detailed info on submission guidelines, email Florizone.

RELATED: The inaugural Chilliwack Independent Film Festival kicked off in 2017



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