Four Belmont film students earned a tidy sum of money for themselves and the school with a first-place movie on the dangers of distracted driving.
The film topped the national Allstate Just Drive Canada video contest, defeating 146 other entries. The filmmakers, Matt Girard, Gabrielle Semail, and Stephanie Clarke, all in Grade 11, were awarded $1,500 while $1,000 was awarded to Belmont’s drama, film and television class. The film will be screened at the Belmont Film Festival in June.
The contest challenged film students to create a public service announcement on the dangers of distracted driving.
The students came up with the concept of a young girl getting ready for a party. As she primps a narrator reveals that this is the last time she will be doing such things as having a meal, putting on makeup and saying goodbye to her parents.
As the teen drives to the party she checks a text on her cell phone and is hit head on by another vehicle.
“One second ago, her heart beat for the last time,” says the narrator as the video comes to a close.
“It makes my mom cry every time,” said Nik Neral, Grade 11, who narrated the film.
The most challenging aspect of filming for the students was using a “green screen” to superimpose the outside of the car during the driving scene. A “green screen,” or chroma keying, allows filmmakers to add in backgrounds or other elements in post-production.
“It was an amazing feeling to actually win,” Clarke said. “We worked really hard on it and thought it turned out really good. It was fun making it too.”
Girard hopes to go to film school after her graduates and has aspirations to be a director. Semail is most interested in the acting side of things, but hasn’t decided yet if she wants to pursue it professionally. Acting is a passion for Neral also, but is unsure if he’ll take his interest beyond high school.
“It’s really creative,” Semail said of filmmaking. “You can really just do whatever you want and experiment with new angles. It’s so much fun.”
“It’s a way to express yourself that’s unlike any other,” Girard added.
“The Last Time” went through two levels of competition. The first was a voting round, where anyone could go online and vote for their favourite entries. The young filmmakers in Lori Haddon’s drama film and television class canvassed classmates, teachers, family and friends to go vote for their videos. Ultimately all five of the videos produced in the class collected enough votes to make it into the top 10.
From there the videos were judged on originality, clarity of message, style and quality of acting.
Haddon found out about the results during a class and had the pleasure of announcing “The Last Time” had tied for first.
“I’m so proud. Proud that they’re reaching an audience with an important message too,” Haddon said. “It does have an affect.”