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Editorial: Students’ expertise, topics take spotlight in film fest


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If you want to see young artists at work, head to the Artcraft Theatre in Franklin on Saturday for this year’s student film festival.

These works are not YouTube videos shot with cellphone cameras. They are full-fledged productions, carefully shot and edited, requiring months of painstaking work.

This is the fifth year for the festival, one of precious few in the country and one of even fewer with this level of technical expertise on the part of the makers. It brings together young filmmakers from across Johnson County. More than 20 documentary films from Franklin and Whiteland high school students will be shown.

The theme of this year’s festival is “Spotlight On,” and the topics are at times as serious as the effort the students put into the films, including the gay marriage debate, resource recycling and bullying.

Festival organizer Don Wettrick, a Franklin Community High School broadcast teacher, said, “I always really like the community support it gets. A woman came up to me and said that she really appreciates how we spotlight these different charitable organizations and events. So I thought that was a good theme.”

Typical of the entries is “Out of Darkness,” produced by Franklin Community High School students Ryan Long and Thomas Bolt. It focuses on bullying and suicide in young people.

If you go

What: Franklin Film Festival

When: 7 p.m. Saturday

Where: Artcraft Theatre,

57 N. Main St., Franklin

Tickets: $5 adults, $4 for seniors, college students

with ID and military individuals with ID, and $3 for children 12 and under.

Long said, “In 2012, a friend of mine had committed suicide. Since then, I wanted to find some way to bring awareness to it. Tom and I both wanted to compete in the film festival, and we both decided this was something we really wanted to focus on.”

Bolt added, “The actual goal for it, a lot of schools

show videos about bullying and suicide. But a lot of them seem cliche. It’s a good thing to have it in the film fest, but it’s good for schools to have something where you see the real emotion.”

The festival is a true community gem. It showcases work done with love and pride and that demonstrate technical proficiency that compares favorably with professionals with many times the budget.

If you want to be challenged and if you want to be entertained, there is no better place to spend an evening.

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