By Alexandra Molnar, Contributing Writer
Grafton – A couple of months ago, Julien Cherry, a senior at Grafton High School (GHS), approached his friend Yusuf Sezer, a junior at GHS, about an idea for a community service project for the National Honor Society (NHS): a film festival.
Cherry thought that a film festival would be a “cool thing for people to see” and a great opportunity for the filmmakers to show their projects off at an event. Cherry added that short films allow just enough time to transmit a message and connect with an audience.
Sezer himself has a passion for photography and video which began when he was a member of a paintball team and started photographing his team at tournaments. One day, he and a friend from the team applied for a media pass to film and photograph a tournament, and a business was born. The pair operates their business in the summer, photographing and filming paintball tournaments.
Cherry enjoys watching films and pointing out various aspects of them. One recent film that he recalled with enthusiasm was “Interstellar,” because he appreciated the producer’s effort to render the animations scientifically accurate.
Sezer also loves watching movies and looking beyond the plot to the more technical aspects. Due to his experience with video editing, he always pays close attention to color corrections and grading and how well the techniques are executed.
The Grafton Film Fest, whose theme is “illusion,” will be held Wednesday, April 29, from 6-9 p.m. in the GHS auditorium; the proceeds from the admission fees will be donated to Autism Speaks, an advocacy organization that sponsors autism research.
Cherry and Sezer started the project about three months ago as part of the 10 hours per quarter that each NHS member must commit to a community service project. So far the students have worked far beyond 10 hours, but Cherry said that organizing a film fest “is more fun.”
The team solicited submissions, advertising at the Grafton schools and to their high school peers, using mentors such as the video production teacher at GHS. Cherry and Sezer also created an official rulebook that outlines the film and submission requirements, technical details and judging criteria.
The submission fee, $15.76 per film, will help to cover the costs of the festival as well as serve as a prize for the first-place winner who will receive 50 percent of the money collected from film submissions.
So far, the students have found one judge who is experienced in the film industry. Sezer is acquainted with him through his involvement with paintball. The selected judge has produced a documentary for a paintball team. Ideally the festival will have three judges.
The judges will select one winner based on four criteria: interpretation of the festival theme “illusion,” creativity and originality, execution of cinematic techniques, and overall effectiveness of the film. The first three categories account for 30 points each and the last will count for 10 points.
Sezer predicted that the most enjoyable aspect of the film fest project will be when they get to review the films.
“I think it’s going to be fun,” he said.
Cherry agreed that it will be interesting to see “how [the filmmakers] realize solutions.”
The students emphasized that the Grafton Film Fest is open to amateurs only and that they would like to keep it at a local level. Sezer said that a lot of people shy away from submitting an entry because they are intimidated, and although the line between amateur and professional is not always clear, the team is devoted to ensuring that the competition is fair.
“We want everyone to have a good time,” Cherry said, “[and filmmakers] who interpret the theme and are creative.”
For more information on the festival, visit the Facebook page “Grafton Film Fest.”