Film production crews, comprising multiple people who all have their own thoughts and perspectives, have a specific challenge to overcome.
Unlike solo artists working in another medium, like authors or painters, film crews must work to bring tother all of their members’ ideas into one cohesive product.
A group of Wilson High School film students learned that lesson recently—and have the award to prove it.
Wilson’s Ben Tinsley, Matteos Mandalia, Mia Urena, Ky Stopp and Ernesto Felix worked together to make the short drama film, “Rebirth,” which won first place in its category as part of the nationwide Student Television Network 2022 Fall Nationals competition.
“I’m a proud teacher and happy to be a part of finding avenues they can become successful in, and the rest is really just the kids,” Wilson film teacher Thourn Heng said. “I taught them the foundations, and the rest is their work.”
Director Ben Tinsley has won multiple awards, but the senior thinks this was one of his most enjoyable filmmaking pursuits.
“It was really a collaborative experience,” Tinsley said. “Everyone felt really connected with the film and their contribution. It was just a really fun process.”
“Rebirth” is the story of a friendship initiation gone wrong at Long Beach’s Colorado Lagoon. The tense story works well at night, considering the excellent use of lighting and sound.
“We had (the light) high enough when we were on that dock and kept it behind the camera, and that just kind of evenly lit like moonlight would,” Tinsley said. “It actually looked a lot better than I thought it was going to.”
Tinsley also used his drone for the final shot, which created the necessary visual drama, but it also created more challenges his team had to work around.
“On one side of the lagoon, we were legally allowed to fly in because that’s a public space, but the other side is a wildlife preserve,” Tinsley said. “So my drone wouldn’t let me fly past the dock. So we were literally on the edge of where it would let it fly without beeping and forcing itself to land.”
Mandalia, meanwhile, was the co-writer, assistant director and actor in the film.
“The most rewarding part of it is definitely the team,” Mandalia said. “It was the first time I felt like I was actually able to get my ideas out properly and then help refine everything. We worked together, and everything felt really smooth compared to any past projects.”
“I have fantastic castmates and all of them are really hard working,” actor Mia Urena said. “It was a very challenging film to do. We were out there two days in the freezing cold, and three of us had to get into the water. But it was all about teamwork, and we all had really good communication.”
Urena thinks that the cohesiveness of the production team made the difference when it came time for the judges to weigh in.
“You could really see the teamwork in our film,” Urena said. “What really set us apart is that we didn’t rely on one person. We were all chipping in and doing our best to make this film as great as possible.”
Stopp, one of the other actors, was also impressed with the organization his group possessed.
“We really put in the time, and we’re proud of that,” Stopp said. “We were filming very late at night, so we had to get everyone’s schedules arranged. That was pretty challenging.”
Felix was also an actor in the film, but he wanted to make sure he contributed in every way possible.
“I wanted to be more than just an actor, so I helped with the design,” Felix said. “Trying to do more than one thing was important because I wanted to be useful. We all put a lot of effort into this … If someone needed help with lines, or even helping the director with lighting, what made this film the best is that we’re just like a family making this film, since we’ve known each other since freshman year.”
This same group will compete in the STN Convention in March when it comes to Long Beach.