By Dawn M. Chiossi
The West Orange High School Film Team has been honored for winning Best 10 Day Film of 2018 from the 10 Day Challenge Competition Awards. Made up of students: Thomas Hughes, writer, director, editor, cinematographer; Dane Clark II, Lourdes Korczukowski, Rajeev Persad, Isabel Olden, who were the actors; and
Joaquin Goodbar, creator of musical score, these talented students won for their original student film entitled “Deadlines.” The awards ceremony took place at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia on June 10.
These aspiring artists along with West Orange High School Dramatic Arts Teacher of 9-12 grade students, Wendy Mapes, attended the awards ceremony, where they viewed all 20 films selected, excitedly anticipating all the way.
And the honors just keep rolling in for this hard working student film team.
In addition to the honor of being named Best Film, they were also awarded an impressive Best Performance Award.
It was an awesome surprise, punctuating a run of extraordinary talent and good luck. All of this followed West Orange’s state win for the film on April 13!
Originating in 2010, The 10 Day Film Challenge is the nation’s number one high school film festival, raising the bar for aspiring student filmmakers. With this event, students can envelop themselves in an intense, dynamic, and energizing endeavor. In the span of a little more than a week, that’s 10 classroom periods, they can go from student to filmmaker.
In 2017, just last year, the 10 Day Film Challenge has expanded to 145 high schools from 25 states.
Challenge is a fitting word for this competition as well. In addition to creating, scripting, shooting, scoring, and editing their film, students must also include all of the required elements dictated to them on their first day. These included creating a character, backstory, prop, a particular line of dialogue, a cinematic technique, and choice of genres, which they had to pick out of a hat.
This year the students were required to utilize a paranormal genre, name their character Nick or Nicole Parone, mention their backstory as a recurring dream, using headphones as a prop, with required line of dialogue being “I have to get out of here.” Additionally, the West Orange students also showed off their cinematic technique by utilizing an optional point of view.
Undaunted, this impressive film team embraced the task and had a great deal of fun showing what they could do, and the results were amazing.
As Mapes describes, “Once the genre was chosen, they (the students) were off to the races with an idea.”
Creativity, passion, diligence, these are the attributes of the millions of creative people out there, and the West Orange Film Team is no exception.
Mapes describes “Deadlines” as a four minute supernatural thriller. It is the story of a boy getting rejected by a girl he asked to the prom, gets comforted by a friend, and ends up getting chased by a demon. In his effort to escape, he meets a new girl enduring the demon chase as well. After surviving together, they become a couple.”
In the character-driven style of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” West Orange’s “Deadlines” has it all. Viewers will enjoy a film with paranormal horror, a touch of romance, a smattering of comedy, and a main character people can’t help but root for.
Those from West Orange High School are elated with the honor.
“I’m so proud of these guys,” states Hayden Moore, principal of West Orange High School. He points out that West Orange High School is very proud of their tradition of aiding students in their pursuit of the arts. “We seek for our students to hone their creative skills. We cultivate that talent and push for it.”
The film was the brainchild and passion of Hughes, who had been bitten by the writing bug early, and has been writing screenplays all throughout middle and high school. When asked about “Deadlines” recent honors, Hughes is both humble and confident regarding his creation.
“This was an extremely interesting experience to say the least,” he enthuses. “It was really special. The competition was really good.”
Passionate regarding his craft, he has nothing but good things to say about the team and the whole experience. “My actors were absolutely fantastic so was absolutely confident we’d win.” Even with that confidence, it was the win for “Best Film,” that he categorizes it as an “incredible surprise.” What an honor. It really says something.”
He and the West Orange team, who met in Mapes’ class and just all hit it off, submitted a previous film to the 10 Day Film Competition last year when they won the “Audience Choice” award for his mockumentary film “Dalton Vs Malcom.”
Even at this year’s competition celebrating all the films, Hughes was thinking about his craft “It was intriguing to see how we progressed from last year, to see how you grew as a filmmaker,” he asserts.
Hughes writes a variety of genres, enjoying the details and challenges of them all.
“I don’t want to pigeonhole myself in any specifics,” he remarks.
Moore describes Hughes as a “quiet storm,” someone beyond his years, someone who is both an athlete, but quiet and extremely involved in the arts, who is perceptive and smart. “Tom’s very open to every single kid in this school.” Moore praises. “I’ve no doubt he’ll succeed by pushing past his comfort zone.”
Feedback on “Deadlines” has been overwhelmingly positive.
“The attention we’ve been getting is kind of crazy,” Hughes shares.
“We joke that the film has really put West Orange on the map,” Moore jokes.
“I loved working on the film,” Hughes prides, “It’s really surreal, seeing all the hard work that everyone put into this. It’s a dream come true, it’s fantastic. I’m just so proud that everyone will get to see it.”
Also elated, Mapes concludes, “I was so excited for my students. It may sound corny, but I felt like I was at the Oscars!”