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HomeArtYoung Filmmakers Shine at 14th Annual Brucy Awards

Young Filmmakers Shine at 14th Annual Brucy Awards

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Monday, May 6, Beacon Theatre in Brooksville was the venue for a gala occasion attended by future stars in filmmaking, the 14th Annual Brucy Awards.

“What are the Brucy Awards?” you may ask.

Think of the Academy Awards without all the Hollywood fanfare and none of the Hollywood egos. Each year the students from Mr. Ian Wald’s filmmaking classes at Nature Coast Technical High School have an opportunity to showcase their talent. They submit the films they’ve worked on to a panel of judges who rate the films in each category as 1st, 2nd and 3rd place. The scores are then tabulated and the winners are announced at the awards ceremony.

The Brucy Awards were sponsored by a number of businesses and non-profit organizations, including Posability and the Hernando Education Foundation. Also, the filmmaking program at Nature Coast receives a grant to cover part of its expenses.

There’s a wide variety of categories: Screenwriting, Production Design, Cinematography and Editing. Other awards go to the Best of these: New Filmmaker, Public Service Announcement, Music Video, Horror/Fantasy/Sci-Fi, Comedy, Drama and Experimental Film. To cap it off, one film is chosen as Film of the Year. The evening included “Senior Memoriam,” film clips shot around campus highlighting the graduates. Another short feature were still photos of the movie posters, many of which were creative and imaginative.

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Best Screenplay went to the film “Eden,” by Yamil Erazo, Spencer Flinn, and Katarina Kraut. The title is ironic because it’s about a serial killer who preys on young ladies in the park and features soft background music that belies it’s serious topic. However, it’s not as gruesome as it sounds.

“Alone” was chosen for Best Production Design. Written and directed by Carter Anderson, this was a tale of two samurais. It was filmed in black and white and featured haunting oriental music in the background and oriental calligraphy for the titles.

Best Editing went to Austen Auperlee for “Desolation Tango.” There were surreal special effects and the team of filmmakers used color and black and white intermittently throughout. Some scenes used just one color, such as red.

Austen is a junior and has been taking filmmaking since his freshman year. He also worked with Mr. Wald in the summer prior to entering high school. Austen would like to get into the Florida State University (FSU) Film Program. One of the challenges for him was that the song they chose was very fast. There were a lot of fast cuts and he had to figure out how to edit it without the film looking choppy.

Ali Fennell, a junior also, directed the film. This is her third year in Mr. Wald’ course, as well. She wants to attend the film program at either FSU or UCF (University of Central Florida).

“I didn’t know what I wanted to do [as a career] until I took the class. I definitely want to pursue filmmaking because I’m super passionate about it,” she remarks and admits that, “I was pretty surprised when I heard my name called out as the winner because I was competing with a lot of good films.”

Best Comedy award went to: “Ghost Thugs, ” a spoof of “Ghostbusters” by Michael Arrington, Kyle Eicher, Marianna Ferlita, Kendal Kohlas, and Mariah Lahr. The storyline was funny and the costumes were clever. Kyle Eicher, a junior, edited it and has been in filmmaking class since his freshman year. The painstaking task of editing took more than thirty hours.

The Best New Filmmaker award went to Anthony Johnson, Christopher Kraft, Gabriel Rivera and Samuel Valderrama for “Left Behind.” It had nothing to do with the End of Times film of the same name. It was about a kidnapping and murder, but didn’t contain any graphic violence. It featured clever dialogue and a well-choreographed fight scene. Samuel, a freshman acted in the film and edited it. He also co-directed along with Christopher and Gabriel.

“Two Months” by Carter Anderson and Dylan McGoldrick won for Best Cinematography. It’s a dystopian film depicting a young man in a deserted town. Apparently there’s been some sort of cataclysmic event and everyone except him has gone insane. Like several of the other films it combines black and white and color.

The award for Best Public Service Announcement went to “Unmute Yourself” by Arianna Capote and Evan Puello. The theme of the film was speaking out about mental health and also utilized black & white and color.

“Unequitable” produced by Autumn cooper and Madelyn Truog was named Best Experimental Film. It was about a lonely high school girl who is shunned by her classmates and concludes with her meeting three other clones of herself. It had a surreal feel to it and featured just background music and sound effects with very little dialogue.

The Best Drama award went to “What has Happened to Us” written and directed by Madelyn Truog and starring Logan O’Leary and Katarina Kraut. It’s about a high school girl who has to interview a boy as part of an assignment for her psychology class. The young man, who calls himself “Hurricane Galveston,” starts off taking the whole thing as a joke. However, during the course of their conversations his attitude changes and they eventually become friends. What I found most impressive about the writing was that it showed a definite character arc in the young man. The script, the dialogue and the acting was believable.

Madelyn Truog is a senior and has been in film class for four years. She started working on it in the middle of October and finished it in April. This was the most challenging film she’s done because it was her Senior year film.

“There was a lot of pressure because I really wanted it to go well and I’m really proud of it,” Madelyn remarked. “What I found most satisfying was to watch my words that I wrote down and the way the actors delivered the lines the way I asked them to.”

Madelyn plans on filmmaking as a career. She’ll be attending the Florida State University (FSU) film program, which is very difficult to get into. Writing and directing are her biggest passions but she also likes cinematography.

The Best Music Video award went to “String Theory.” In a series of dreamlike scenes it depicts a young lady doing an interpretative dance with a piece of rope around her. Then it shows scenes of her lying in a bed, on a beach, and in a swimming pool.

“Mostly for Me” by Autumn Cooper won for Best Horror/ Fantasy/Sci-Fi film and was also designated Film of the Year. This haunting film conveys a subtle message and tells about a teenager, Bella, whose friends encourage her to overdrink at a party. After she’s drunk, she wanders off by herself and has a dream about her alcoholic father. The deft use of special affects adds to the mood. At the end, Bella vows to break the cycle of alcoholism for her father’s sake but “mostly for me.” The final scene shows her awake and watching a vision of her father walking away.

Maria Wise was nominated for Best Young Filmmaker for her animated film, “The Boy.” It was the only animated film to make the top four in that category. A freshman, this is Maria’s first film and she worked on the project alone. “The Boy” was skillfully executed and, although she didn’t win, she plans to continue in Mr. Wald’s filmmaking classes where I know she’ll hone her skills and perhaps have a future in the industry.

The most outstanding trait of these young filmmakers, besides their talent, was their excitement. You could see it on the faces of the students when they accepted their awards. However, it wasn’t just winning that excited them. It was the entire process and being able to work with their friends and collaborate to complete a project.

As Samuel Valderrama stated, “I learn a lot and I have fun while learning.”

Braden Radke remarked, “The most satisfying portion is when we finished we could just sit down and enjoy it.”

While Robert Kordon commented, “A film set is one thing, but a ‘friend set’ is another.
I wouldn’t be surprised if some of these high school filmmakers continue their friendship in the coming years and maybe even one day collaborate on an Academy Award winning film.

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