The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

Freestyle Seniors Film Final Narrative Projects

For students at Freestyle Academy, the joint alternative arts education program offered to students at both Mountain View High School and Los Altos High School, making a film is no unfamiliar task.

Throughout their two years at Freestyle, students write, film and edit narrative stories, documentaries and even, most recently, music videos. As the final project, seniors have partnered up to develop 10 minute narrative films.

Seniors Nikki Kashani and Janna Wang chose to orient their film around Freestyle itself, making sure to highlight its students’ quirks and characters, in a last homage to the program.

“In first semester, we began by writing a narrative story, before we even developed it into a screenplay,” Nikki said. “We even had a professor from the University of San Francisco come in and teach us how to write screenplays, showing us how to incorporate plot and character development. Now we’re actually filming and putting the movie together.”

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Nikki and Janna’s film is a satire on high school involving a pair of guys and what happens when one of them loses his virginity and decides he is too cool to be friends with the other one. The deserted friend is then set up on a series of dates to find a new best friend or a girlfriend. These potential mates are played by students who attend Freestyle.

“Throughout this process we’ve learned a lot about how to separate out internal versus external conflicts,” Janna said. “It’s something you don’t really think about, or realize you’re missing, but it’s essential to writing a good story. It’s the difference between a good and a bad film.”

Creating an entire 10 minute film at the end of senior year is no easy feat. Many problems have come, especially in trying to rally the various members of the movie together for filming.

“It’s difficult because everyone is trying to make their films before the deadlines, and everyone is really busy,” Nikki said. “Now that we’re using high tech digital cameras, we need special equipment, which everyone in the Freestyle program has to share.”

But that’s not to say there haven’t been accomplishments and milestones.

“It’s a collaborative process,” Janna said. “It’s been really great to have a good story to work with. Nikki has put all of her sense of humor into this film, and it’s really funny. It’s interesting to compare the process of when you start with a good foundation versus a poor one.”

The two have also learned a lot about balancing the different aspects of creating a film and making sure all elements are up to par and where they want them to be.

“Making the cinematic stuff look good is [pointless and empty] if the story isn’t good to match,” Janna said. “Luckily our film has both.”

Seniors Ellery Seither and Hannah Hansen are also producing their own film for this project. The two girls knew where to find the material for their film, a romantic comedy centered around friends in high school.

“Our film is about two boys in high school from different social groups,” Ellery said. “They end up as part of a love triangle when they start doing a web show together.”

This inevitably brings about chaos as a girl comes between the two guys as a potential love interest, and the usual high school drama ensues. The filmmakers sought to integrate their love of film with their love of people, evidenced in the plot that has filming as part of its main sequence.

Similarly, Ellery and Hannah find that the most challenging aspect of creating their film is getting their actors corralled together to actually film.

“The biggest challenge has been finding time to film together and getting all the actors together,” Ellery said.

However, Hannah and Ellery manage to find time to film nearly every weekend, even with Hannah in Europe for three weeks as part of her Main Street tour and Ellery’s challenging schedule working at Peet’s Coffee. They are very dedicated to their film, which they hope will be a great culmination of their two years’ experience at Freestyle.

“[I] think our success has been the fact that Hannah and I work well together and we don’t have a lot of disagreements,” Ellery said. “But, we feed off each other’s ideas and create something better in the end.”

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