On the first day of spring, as the sell-out crowd assembled in the Montgomery College Theatre, it was time for the night that young area cinematographers had long been waiting for. After months of creative hard work, visionary, Frank Eakin’s brainchild, the Woodlands Young Movie Makers competition, was about to culminate with the awarding of prizes at the First Annual HollyWoodlands Gala. Following an earlier private reception for finalists, judges, and members of the press at Borders Book Store, the hopeful contestants were transported, by Hummer limousine, to a red-carpet ceremony reminiscent of Hollywood’s dressy Academy Awards, evening gowns and all.
Amusingly hosted by emcee/actor/comedian, Brian Thornton, the first-class event even won the right to incorporate classic film clips and interviews into the program, courtesy of The American Film Institute. This added even more glamour to a competition that featured a panel of 13 distinguished judges, including directors, producers, screenwriters, cinematographers, teachers, critics, and professional actors, in addition to Jim Huston, (President of the Houston Screen Actors Guild), Joan See, (Founder/Artistic Director of The School for Film and Television, New York), and Casey Kelly, Screenwriter/Filmmaker, and Director of Eakin’s forthcoming Woodlands film “The Bracelet of Bordeaux.” The Event Director was young filmmaker, Scott Ellison, already known for his award-winning film, “Karoshi.” Ellison’s new short film, “The Runner,” was screened at the Gala, as was the trailer for the “Bordeaux” film. Certificates of Award were presented to winners in four distinct categories, in addition to Honorable Mentions for filmmakers, Kevin Anderson (“Christmas Nightmare”), Jordan Triestman (“The Smelly Complaint”), Victor Shuttee (“Schoolyard Survivor”), and Derek Koett (“The Chronicles of Dexter I”).
The Elementary winners included 3rd Place to Bailey Mills for the amusing “Super Heroes in Action,” 2nd Place to Richard Oliver Nieto III for the witty police comedy, “Magnum Volume,” and 1st Place to Stavros Ktenidis for the clever fantasy, “Confusion in Greek.”
The Mitchell Young Moviemakers category had awards for participants in the special film program at Mitchell Intermediate School. 3rd Place went to a humorous take-off on monster movies, “Catzilla,” by Lily Huffman. 2nd Place was awarded to Jordan Ballback for the giggling tongue-in-cheek examination of a Laughakemia victim in “Soup Bubbles.” 1st Place went to Amanda Tucker for the thoughtful “Do You Care.”
In the Junior High/Intermediate category the 3rd Prize went to Cameron Strong for an offbeat look at brain surgery and fleeting romance in “All My Grandparent’s Grandchildren.” “The Museum Mystery,” by Amanda Jacobs, captured 2nd Prize. The 1st Prize went to Riley Cannon for a clever look at the cell phone craze in “Cellannoyance.”
In the High School competition ranking finalists included Marsha Douglis, Brent Elliot, Matthew Emerick and Kevin Cook. The 3rd Place award in that category went to Casey Schuman for the voodoo spookiness of “The Consumer.” 2nd Place was a tie between two films: A very amusing and imaginative “Stuck,” by Alan Lambert, and the very poignant and thought provoking “When I Grow Up,” by Matt Hickey. 1st Place went to 15 year-old Michael Wham for the informative and stunning “Penguins of Antarctica,” smoothly edited and narrated, and beautifully filmed, on location, on the frozen continent. It was perfect evidence that for those willing to make the effort, youth is no impediment to excellence in cinematography. As for modest Mr. Eakin, he remarked “This night is for the kids!” and stood proudly to the side, never taking the stage for the ovation he deserved.
(The Courier 3.27.05)