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The Future of Filmmaking: All American High School Film Festival

Young kids are looking less like fresh-faced children and more like future mini-moguls with each passing day. They are becoming the best dressed generation, honing in on niche-interests, and learning specialized skills for their big world dreams; there’s even a place for kid culinary geniuses on MasterChef Junior. Though there are specific outlets for these creative endeavors, the film industry has largely remained a grown-up world, leaving kids to play around with YouTube vlogs and 6-seconds Vine videos to gain exposure. Andrew Jenks, award winning filmmaker and creator of MTV’s The World of Jenks, is setting out to change that. He found his passion for storytelling as a high school student, and is attempting to bridge the gap for aspiring young filmmakers with the first ever All American High School Film Festival, premiering this Friday night in the Big Apple.
We had the privilege of speaking with Jenks during our Millennial Mashup earlier this year where he elaborated on the accessibility of filmmaking as an interest for young kids today. Yet even with the tools and know-how to produce quality content, there aren’t enough outlets for kids to showcase their work. He has equated the talent of young filmmakers to high school athletes, reasoning that, “If you’re good at sports, you’re going to have top recruiters coming to you, so I think the same should be done for film students.” 
There is no dearth of young talent, something the project realized when they received over 1,000 short film submissions from over 40 U.S. states and countries like Japan, South Korea, South Africa, and the Netherlands. The festival aims to connect these young filmmakers with industry alums, offering attractive prizes with scholarships, editing software, and chances to meet big-name producers that could set them on a fast-tracked path to industry success.
Jenks has pulled out all of the stops to celebrate young talent at the film festival, bringing in a star-studded panel of judges that includes actress Kristen Stewart, actors Edward Burns, Dylan McDermott, and Henry Winkler, producers Carlton Cuse and Danny Rose, director Morgan Spurlock, and writer Diablo Cody. What stands out more than the famous figures attached to this venture are the young filmmakers themselves, bringing new points of view and creative visions that Jenks says will soon put him out of work. We wanted to highlight three of the high school filmmakers participating who capture the Millennial mindset and who are exciting us for the future of filmmaking.
Emily Cohn
Films: “Pierced” (Drama) and “Lets Play” (Music Video)
Emily Cohn first created a name for herself with her project the “Do Not Enter Diaries,” a web series she created with long-time best friend Emma Orlow to explore the landscape of teenage bedrooms around the world and find out what they represent. Exhibiting a strong drive for storytelling and understanding her peers, she submitted the short film “Pierced” to the film festival to try to understand the relationship of a would-be friendship between two girls of different cliques. Her second submission “Let’s Play” delves into stop-motion animation, a skill that is difficult to perfect even for experienced professionals, in order to harken back to a simpler time of childhood. Her nostalgic mentality with this piece will surely relate to the Millennial audience, and win her points for infusing an upbeat and comforting storyline to the mix.
Sachin Dharwadker
Film: “In a Special Place” (Drama)
Sachin Dharwadker knows that he is entering into an industry with dollar bills signs perpetually in its sights, but is hoping to be breaking that mold in ten years by “struggling valiantly to get an explosion-free screenplay sufficiently financed for production.” Realistic in his endeavors, Sachin took to Kickstarter in order to fund his film, using the online advantages at his fingertips in order to make his film a reality. His short drama “In a Special Place” was also out-of-the-box for him, his first foray into romance. This piece was an especially personal workd of his and conveys the true mark of an artist, being able to leave your insecurities at the door to produce moving content that is worth watching.
Kevin Chiu
Film: “More” (Music Video)
Nothing is better than feeling elated after watching a short film, and that is what Kevin Chiu has achieved with his submission “More.” The project was a collaborative effort of many people at his school, Hunter College High School, and their joy leaps off of the screen in this intricate collection of stop-motion images that spill out in a storyline. Kevin set out to “produce something that celebrated that community” and communicate to his peers that “they are in fact incredible people.” Pops of happiness in today’s media are attracting Millennials who look for pick-me-ups throughout the day, and this is a perfect example of that sentiment, created by a Millennial, and for them as well.

Find tickets here for access to the All-American High School Film Festival this weekend and to catch these filmmakers and their works in person!