Films on a Shoestring festival highlights students’ work

Karen Manley

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Seniors and Mr. Gallagher hug it out on stage after Rafael Souza begins to cry during his speech. Photo Credit: Karen Manley

The night of May 6, 2016 consisted of the twelfth annual “Films on a Shoestring”, or FOASS, film festival at Fossil Ridge High School. It is a very important event for students in the film department. Mr. Gallagher, the TV teacher, explained, “Some of the films shown were created in November, so since probably October we’ve been working on this.” Ridge TV students are able to be more free with their work than for advisory showings because viewers of the event are not considered a “captive audience”, meaning they are required to watch the video, by the school district. The topics were heavy, including themes about domestic violence, drug and alcohol consumption, shootings, depression, and suicide, and most short films contained mild explicit language and sexual content. Because of this, Gallagher explained, “The students treat it in a much more real way.”

The festival kicked off with four music videos, directed by Kylee Rinker (All Too Well), Carson Reed (Hall of Fame), Andrew Hanson (Raise Hell), and Evan Thomas (School). These videos showed the true sides of the breakdown of relationships, students overcoming bullying, and students challenging the institution of school.

From there began the short films section, which consisted of nine videos ranging from three to fifteen minutes, all created by Fossil students.  “The students get to share some of their most creative work publicly. What’s different about Ridge TV is there are very strict restrictions on what we can play. But, for the Films on a Shoestring festival, as long as it meets a PG-13 rating, the students can do anything they want, so they’re able to be a lot more creative,” said Gallagher.

The Films:

Mr. King’s class: When students suspect their teacher Mr. King of losing their tests and giving them all D’s, they set up a camera a find out about a teacher relationship scandal.

Break In: A teenager gets himself into a bad situation when his friend and brother convince him to break into a house. After waking up the homeowner, the student watches his brother be shot in the leg and sees he made a huge mistake.

Grim: After being drugged at a party, Lizzy must come to terms with her new “life” as a grim. She must help the girl who saw her drink being drugged but said nothing cross into the afterlife after the girl jumped off a bridge.

Moe: A girl reflects on her abusive relationship and struggles to understand what the man she once loved has become.

Let Go: A student suffering from mental illness goes through his repetitive daily life and wonders why nothing ever changes.  He knows his life should be good but realizes he can’t handle it any longer and kills himself.

That’s Awkward: A student follows a girl after finding a note asking whether or not he likes her. After an elaborate dance number, he tells her he’s gay.

Precision: A guy makes out with his drug dealer’s girlfriend and is hunted down while still trying to get the girl.

Toast: A toast deal in an alleyway backfires when both parties involved attempt to bust the other.

High Noon: A group of modern gambling cowboys are challenged by a hall monitor and a new guy in town who are over powered. Repetively.  

At the end of the night, judges Lori Adair, Aaron Slavick, and Kristin Rust awarded several trophies for a variety of categories, which were then presented by Fossil’s past Sabercats. Best supporting actress and actor went to Ale Ruiz in Grim and Iggy Boryszewski in High Noon, respectively. Best makeup design went to Grim and best Screenplay was awarded to Mr. King’s  Class. Precision’s Libby Rose won best lead actress, and the film also won best production design. Best editing, soundtrack/score, and sound design went to Moe, That’s Awkward, and Break In. Chris Martella won best lead actor for his work in High Noon, which went on to win best cinematography.

Gallagher announced the last five awards to embellish the importance of them and the student’s hard work. For people’s choice, which was chosen based on cheers from the crowd, Toast was runner up and High Noon was the winner. Raise Hell won best music video. Best overall picture of the night went to High Noon, with Mr. King’s Class as the runner up.

All through the show, the audience was laughing, cheering, and even crying over the student made films. It was an emotional night, especially for the seniors who were experiencing their last FOASS festival. During his speech after winning best picture, senior Rafael Souza got choked up and even began to cry, bringing on an enormous group hug.

Gallagher knows the importance this night has to his students each year, and the event means a lot to him, too. He said,  “It shows the transition from video student to filmmaker. That’s a really beautiful thing when they go from ‘I’m in a class and I’m doing this thing for a class’ to “I’m showing the best work that I think I can do right now and let’s see what that looks like.’”