The creativity of teenagers in Surry County was on full display at the Mount Airy Public Library’s first-ever Teen Film Festival, which premiered Thursday night with a collection of seven short films produced entirely by local teenagers.
All films were required to feature a cast of teenagers and all film work had to be produced, edited, written by and directed by local teens. The theme for the films was based around reading, books, or the library.
A red carpet led attendees into the multi-purpose room of the Mount Airy Public Library. The audience of around 18 people consisted of three groups of teens who entered their films and their family members, as well as other interested members of the public.
The first four films were created by Surry Early College High School students who were not in attendance at the festival, due to the spring break schedule conflicts.
First was a film that featured an experimental reading of “Green Eggs and Ham” by Surry Early College students. The second film, entitled “The Story of Bob Steve,” was a tongue-in-cheek film about a homeless man who dropped out of school and never learned to read. “Books Begun” featured a blanket cave and actors who, once inside, heard the folktale of Anasi the spider.
“My Escape” took a serious tone with a story about an orphan who felt she did not fit in anywhere. The film contained what several audience members described as “excellent sound editing” and featured a surprising flashback sequence sparked by a run-in with a teenager who had a box full of books she wanted to donate. In the flashback, the orphan remembered sitting in a field and hearing a story read by her mother. The film ended with a message for the audience: “reading is my portal into places beyond…if only I could stay in the book forever.”
“One More Episode”
The fourth film was created by Lauren Henderson and Cole Gentry, Surry Early College students and friends who are also members of the library’s teen theater group, the Dewey Decimal Players. Gentry and Henderson said the film was inspired by a segment entitled “One More Episode” on one of Henderson’s favorite TV programs, the comedy sketch show “Portlandia.”
This film, called “One More Chapter” in a nod to the segment from “Portlandia,” featured two teens played by Gentry and Henderson, who enjoyed reading the “Twilight” books so much they skipped sleep, school, and dress rehearsal. After the entire book series was over, they called the library and were devastated to find out there were no more books in the series, only to move straight on to another book series, “Hunger Games.”
The film ended with a message to “Feed your reading addiction — visit your local library” and a selection of outtakes ran during the credits.
Henderson said the entire film was improvised by herself and Gentry instead of memorizing a script: “We would talk about what we wanted for each scene before filming, then we improved the rest.”
Henderson, who aspires for a future career as a filmmaker, said she started with a storyboard, in order to lay out the story and match it with the filming process. She said she has always been interested in the dramatic arts, especially filmmaking, and is in the process of working on a film to present to one of her favorite bands, Pierce the Veil.
“I’ve always been visual from a very early age. I wanted to go into creative writing and then filmmaking sparked my interest.” Henderson has been making movies for the past few years.
Henderson’s mother said she is very proud of her daughter’s achievements and creative spirit and said she was artistic from day one.
“The Mystery of the Missing Librarian”
“The Mystery of the Missing Librarian” was a Scooby-Doo parody that featured North Surry High School students Michael Boyd, who served as director, writer, and starred in the role of Shaggy; Erica Puckett, who played the part of Daphne; Avery Pike as Velma; Jordan Flippen as Fred; and Anthony Tate as Scooby-Doo.
Special guest stars included Ann Bryant as the librarian and Debbie Diamont, North Surry High School drama teacher, in a fitting role as a WXII newsanchor (her real-life past job).
The film, which originally featured a parody of many stories, was narrowed down to the Scooby-Doo theme after the teens realized it was going to be quite lengthy.
The parody of Scooby-Doo featured several nods to the original series: the infamous enter-and-exit door montage sequence, Velma losing her glasses, a very hungry Scooby and Shaggy who finally ate huge sandwiches at the end, and even the appearance of a monster, although, in true Scooby tradition, the mystery was solved and determined not to be of supernatural cause.
The entire short film was shot at North Surry High School, and the biggest challenge for the students was the audio sequence, since they did not have microphones available for most of the filming.
Michael Boyd said he has been making movies “off and on since sixth grade” and he started with claymation videos. He said he loves working with people, and admitted, after a nudge from Erica Puckett, that he loves “getting to be the boss.”
“The best part is when you edit the footage, put it all together, and see the final result of your work.”
“Mount Airy Library”
The final film, entitled “Mount Airy Library,” and was created by John Ferry, 10th-grade student at Mount Airy High School, and Jonathan Carpenter, a ninth-grade homeschool student.
Ferry and Carpenter said they are friends who attend the same church and Ferry has made films in the past. Carpenter said he found out about the project through a Facebook post by Angela Llewellyn, and he and Ferry decided it would be fun to participate. Ferry wrote the script, then sent it to Carpenter to refine before they collaborated for the filming and editing.
The film was about a group of friends, described in the film as “losers with no life,” who spent every night playing video games. This changed when one of them obtained a copy of J.R.R. Tolkien’s “Fellowship of the Ring.” In the short film, the book sparked epic movie-style music and the once-losers turned into adventurous types who, inspired by the book they read, stopped playing video games, went outside, and re-enacted scenes from the book.
Ferry said that the film was meant to be “kind of like a commercial for the Mount Airy Public Library.”
The future of the film festival
Angela Llewellyn, of the Mount Airy Public Library, said she was delighted with the response and amount of entries into the festival and plans to hold the film festival again next year. “We had more entries than I expected and next year we hope to be able to turn the festival into a competition with a prize for the best film.”
Teen Film Festival Films available online
“One More Chapter” — www.youtube.com/watch?v=qmopM1MLPI4
“The Mystery of the Missing Librarian” — www.youtube.com/watch?v=WUalObf8B5I.
“Mount Airy Library” — www.youtube.com/watch?v=ov_tecYDvuQ
Reach Jessica Johnson at email@example.com or at 719-1933.