With a camera, some friends and their own imaginations, a group of teenage filmmakers have tried to tell some incredible stories.
They’ve envisioned a Tarantino-esque world where an undercover FBI agent infiltrates an organized crime ring. Listening to their favorite songs, they’ve reimagined the lyrics as telling a visual story in their own lives.
With compassion and tact, they’ve revealed the real lives of a poor Appalachian town as well as a beloved entertainer named Cowboy Bob.
Some of the area’s most talented young movie-makers have spent the past few months tirelessly writing scripts, shooting footage and editing their creations. Now, they’ll get to see their art play out for an audience during the screening portion of this year’s Greenwood Public Library Teen Film Festival.
The annual event, now in its seventh year, will feature more than 20 submissions from around Johnson County and the southside. Organizers hope it allows young filmmakers the chance to showcase what they’re doing and give feedback to those who envision making movies for a career.
“We try to encourage that type of creativity, give them that kind of outlet,” said Emily Ellis, head of reference and teen services at the library. “It’s great to support the teenagers in our community who are doing some amazing things with film.”
The screening will be at 6:30 p.m. today at the library.
For Whiteland Community High School juniors Samuel Tester and Amir Mujkanovic, the festival offered the opportunity to broaden their creative visions in film. Both are part of the telecommunications program at Whiteland, but wanted to do something different than their work at school.
Their feature film follows an undercover agent who is discovered by the mafia. His compatriots in law enforcement have to mount a rescue mission to save his life.
“It was originally going to be like a music video, because we had been listening to a song called ‘Dangerous’ by Big Data. It kind of kept getting larger and larger from the stuff we wanted to shoot for it, and we thought we could give it this story instead,” Tester said.
Teens were encouraged to submit work in one of four categories: feature film, documentary, music video or book trailer.
They were given certain criteria to follow, such as making sure features and documentaries are not longer than 15 minutes. Every submission had to be rated G or PG, following guidelines established by the Motion Picture Association of America.
Participants could use their own equipment, though the Greenwood library had cameras, tripods and laptops they could check out to make their movie.
Emily Kreuzman created “In God’s Hands,” a documentary about the trip she took in March to Appalachia with her classmates at Roncalli High School.
The senior spent a week doing volunteer work in West Virginia. At the same time, she spoke with the residents of East Bank, West Virginia about their struggles and their daily lives.
What she uncovered was an engaging look at poverty and how it affects real people.
“So many of them have been taken down by illness, and now they can’t get out of poverty,” Kreuzman said. “One of the ladies I spoke with was born with (cerebral palsy), and her husband was abusive and she had to raise two kids. Her story was amazing, but very, very sad. They just started from the bottom and built what they could.”
Other filmmakers opted for multiple submissions.
Deanna Stout created three works for this year’s festival.
Her main piece is a documentary titled, “Bob Glaze: A Hometown Star.” Glaze, a Morgan County resident, had a popular children’s show called “Cowboy Bob’s Corral” that ran from 1969 into the late ’80s.
A senior at Martinsville High School, she is in the advanced broadcasting class. The final for the class was to create a documentary film. When Stout heard about the film festival in Greenwood, she decided to submit it for the competition.
“I heard about it, and thought it was an awesome opportunity to see how my work stood out,” Stout said.
She also did original music videos based on two of her favorite songs: “The Heart Wants What It Wants” by Selena Gomez and “Middle Distance Runner” by Seawolf.
Staff members from both the Greenwood and Johnson County library systems have viewed each of the submitted films, judging it on aspects such as the acting, lighting, sound and cinematography. Those scores will be compiled to figure out the winner of the festival, who walks away with a $400 prize.
Four honorable mention winners will also get $125 each.
Each film will be represented tonight in a montage shown to the audience.
“We have 23 submissions this year, and we’d be here for several hours if we watched each one,” Ellis said. “Everybody is represented, and we’ll show a little bit of everyone’s entry.”
Teen Film Festival
When: 6:30 p.m. today
Where: Greenwood Public Library, 310 S. Meridian St.
What: A showcase highlighting the talents of student filmmakers and awarding creativity for students in grades 9 through 12.