On April 20, 36 Film students from Film Production, Post-Production, and Sport Broadcasting courses came together to showcase their talents in the second annual Upper School Film Festival. Many elements make cinema stand apart from other art forms—movies can speak to the emotions of the audience and connect with each viewer through the moving picture. Similar to a good painting or photograph, a movie can mean something different to each viewer, but there is always an effect on the audience.

Film Teacher Tim Hall encourages his students to pick topics they are passionate about. Introducing students to editing programs and software and building knowledge of film techniques, Mr. Hall works with students to help them plan and execute the vision for the stories they want to tell on film. Mount Vernon offers Upper School students three film courses with access to state-of-the-art, industry-grade equipment.

Film Production is the first of a series that includes a deeper level of rigor as the participants advance. A very hands-on course with a primary focus on media production and touches on script writing.

Post-Production builds on the basics learned in Film Production. Students delve deeper into the post-production process and editing is the primary focus with projects centering on videos that promote student life at Mount Vernon. After course completion, students are able to conceive, produce, and execute professional-grade videos.

In Sports Broadcasting, students learn what it takes to be the voice behind the broadcast. Professional techniques allow students to flow from script to improvisation and help students learn the process to become live announcers and producers.

Check out the Film Festival preview.

Film students in MODs one through three worked diligently with the Film Festival in mind. Senior, Keith Williams produced a sports documentary on MV Varsity Baseball Player and Presbyterian College commit Holden Baker called The Baker Boy. Keith expressed that his team had to be patient while making this documentary, “If the content comes to us naturally, that’s the best way to make a video. We learned that we really couldn’t rush. When we did rush and watched it back, we could tell that it was rushed. But when we patiently prepared and accepted that we would have to retake some content, we noticed that was some of our best work.”

Class of 2024 and Mount Vernon Film Maker of The Year award winner, Emi Lutz, created a film called Meat By The Feet. Emi described her production process fondly, “It’s a cross between a 60-Minutes episode and The Office. All of the characters were teachers around the School and we had so much fun filming it. Shoutout to Mr. Hall for becoming a real partner. He helped me so much while editing. It was such an honor to receive the award and have my film showcased. My work had paid off.”

Class of 2023 Ben Edwards filmed and produced multiple films over the course of his Mount Vernon career, one of which was showcased at the 2023 Film Festival. “Men of Valor: A MV Varsity Boys Basketball Team Documentary”, a mid-season documentary on the Varsity Men’s Basketball Team delved into the team’s mindset at the time. Ben has enjoyed making films like this so much that he has shaped his career goals around it. He said, “One thing I have noticed is that I have a niche interest, being into sports and into film. I’m going to Samford for Sports Media and plan to go into sports broadcasting, hopefully at ESPN or one of the big sports news networks. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I have been producing documentaries my whole life. When I was younger, my cousins and I would film on my grandma’s iPad. I would edit them, add music, put them on youtube. And when I take music classes at Mount Vernon, I’m editing songs to put into my videos. Studying Sports Media at Samford will be a nice transition.”

The Future of Mount Vernon Film

Though the Film program is young, some students have taken it open themselves to grow its roots. Juniors Alyssa Gershon-Palma and Jackson McDougall, the second and third Film Maker of The Year award winners, along with Emi are big supporters and members of the Film Club, a group of students that meet every Tuesday morning to plan and execute their latest projects. Through their efforts and guidance from alumni while they attended the School, the group has filmed chapels, performances, and other events, the most recent one being the 2023 Mustang Rally. Jackson explained his passion for film and his hopes for the group, “My vision for it is to have group members come down during their GTD to grab a camera and film everyday things on campus. There are moments in life that fly by and you think ‘Dang, I would have loved to get that on camera.’ I want to come back to the school in five or ten years and see students walking around everywhere with news cameras. Everything changes so fast and we need to document it. I have been thinking about my next project, a Colt Club documentary. Since I’m in the Cult Club and have grown up with so many of my classmates, I don’t want our story to get lost. I want to make a documentary that is as powerful and touching as our story.”

Second Annual Film Festival Lineup:

  • Drone footage of South Africa by Aston Gilmour
  • Time Capsule & Hawaii Interim Trip Vlogue by Jackson McDougall
  • “Men of Valor: A MV Varsity Boys Basketball Team Documentary” by Jackson Adams + Jack Schimelman + Ben Edwards
  • Greece Interim Video by Holly Vogt
  • “The Negotiation” a short film by Jackson Alewine & Sha’Yah Goba
  • Scotland Interim Video by Amelia Gunnels
  • “Kennedy Reynolds” by Holden Baker + Jonathan Gallinaro + Alex Greco
  • “Where Will You Be in 10 Years?” by Aiden Portman + Justin Early
  • “Be Like Water: The Nagari Tophia Story” by Noah Arnold & Karoline Lundstrom
  • “Being 16 in the Year 2022” by Alyssa Gershon-Palma
  • “A High School Superhero” by Chase Perry + Davis Hightower
  • “My Grandparents” by Reagan Wissman
  • “Emi Lutz: MV Student Athlete” by Tess Freyaldenhoven + Jackson Kelly
  • Patagonia Interim Video by Emi Lutz
  • “Meat by the Feet” by Emi Lutz & Nathan Webb
  • “A Day in the Life of a Mount Vernon Mustang” by Amelia Katz + Luke Wilson
  • “Grace Westmoreland” by Preston Grice + Thomas Kinser
  • “The Road to Georgia: The Liam O’Toole Story” by Walker Warshaw + Bristan DeRocher
  • “Maddy Clark” by Amelia Katz + William Owen
  • “The Lane-y to State: The Laney Whiting Story” by Cole Carroll + Parker Groch
  • “The Big Man: The Keith Williams Story” by Ben Perry + Dustin Kytle

Check out the full two-hour Film Festival on the Mount Vernon Vimeo where other past and future event films can be found.