DeKalb School of the Arts sweeps DCSD inaugural student film festival

3 DSA students hold awardsA young student is shown at home alone at night. Her smart device at home begins malfunctioning. Her front door begins to quake from the outside, as loud knocks are heard.

The student’s device suddenly relays a message.

“Let me in.”

The tension continues to rise, as a dark figure can be seen skulking in the background.

This isn’t a Friday night horror movie, but it’s not far off. Following February 21, it’s an award-winning film made by a DeKalb County School District (DCSD) student.

DCSD hosted its inaugural Student Film Festival on February 21 at the Robert R. Freeman Administration & Instructional Complex. The festival—the byproduct of a partnership between DCSD’s Career, Technical & Agricultural Education (CTAE) department, DeKalb Entertainment Commission, re:Imagine ATL, and the Southeast Emmy Awards—featured more than 30 short films from 13 DCSD high schools and Tucker Middle School.

Films were classified in beginner, intermediate, and advanced categories. Each category named an overall winner—decided by a panel of judges from the Georgia Film Academy, the Screen Actors Guild, and other prestigious industry leaders—and an “Audience’s Choice” winner, decided in real time.

Film genres included horror, public service announcements, music videos, trailers, comedies, romance, and surrealism. Subject matter included almost everything, from searching for the perfect pair of headphones to jousting in the hallway. The gathered audience laughed as a teacher transformed into a werewolf, and remained solemn for several sketches concerning bullying. In certain moments, during horror submissions, the tension could be cut with a knife.

In the end, the horror genre proved to be the most effective.

DeKalb School of the Arts claimed the Overall Award in all three categories, and the Audience’s Choice Award in the Advanced Category. The school’s three films, “Invisible” (Beginner), “Blind Spot” (Intermediate), and “Locked Out” (Advanced) proved to be the festival’s standout submissions.

“Locked Out,” by students Kriss Nash, Stephanie Henderson, Aidan Gates Shields and Celisse Pompey, claimed the Overall Ward, the Audience’s Choice Award, and the Best in Show Award.

Lakeside High School’s submissions “Joust” (Beginner), and “Sciophobia” (Intermediate), each took home an Audience’s Choice Award for their respective categories.

Lakeside High winners hold trophyIn addition to claiming Oscar-esque trophies, winners from each category received invitations to the Student Production Awards hosted by the Southeast Emmy Awards in June 2019. All attending students were advised to enter their films into the organization’s own film festival for opportunities that include scholarships and job opportunities.

According to DeKalb Entertainment Commission Director Shelbia Jackson, the panel’s expertise led to the best decision. Judges included film, television and theatre professionals from such noteworthy projects as The Accountant, House of Pain, Drop Dead Diva, The Vampire Diaries, Sex and the City, As the World Turns, One Life to Live, As the World Turns, Your Worst Nightmare, Dead Silent, Prisoners, 42, American Made, Baby Driver, The Walking Dead, Atlanta, Sleepy Hollow, Dawson’s Creek, One Tree Hill and more.

Josh Lee with the Georgia Film Academy was also on hand to let students know about the government program, which places high school students on film sets. The Academy also partners with more than 15 local colleges and universities.

Arts, AV/Technology and Communications is one of 17 career clusters offered by the DCSD CTAE Department. DCSD career clusters allow students to choose an area of interest in high school, take classes tailored to their cluster, and navigate their way to certification, job opportunities, college and university programs, as well as off-campus industry exposure.