The storytellers: Wildcat film festival puts Mount Si students’ work on the big screen | Photos

Teen actors Christopher Hodel, left, and Landon Storud team up after waking up in a strange forest, in Dakota Miller’s entry for the Wildcat Film Festival. In this scene, they huddle inside a stump where Hodel’s character found a pickaxe. - Courtesy photo
Teen actors Christopher Hodel, left, and Landon Storud team up after waking up in a strange forest, in Dakota Miller’s entry for the Wildcat Film Festival. In this scene, they huddle inside a stump where Hodel’s character found a pickaxe.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

Two boys in a stump, a three-dimensional animated hippopotamus and six Avengers will make Thursday, May 10, a full day for movie-goers in North Bend.

The boys and the hippo are the stars of two student-produced films that will run at the North Bend Theater before the showing of the long-awaited Marvel production, “The Avengers.” There are stars in the Avengers, too, but the real reason for the evening is to showcase the work of the filmmakers, all Mount Si High School students in the Wildcat Production Club.

The annual Wildcat Film Festival, as it’s called, “is our own little Snoqualmie Valley film festival,” said club advisor and video production teacher Joe Dockery.

It’s also a first opportunity for many student filmmakers to see their work on the big screen.

Xury Greer, club president and inventor of the 3-D hippo detective Hippo Crassy, a walking, talking, “stupid pun” personified, has done the festival before, and decided to try something un-Hollywood, this time.

“Every idea you can think of is going to cost a lot to film. Hollywood has millions of dollars to pump into their movies for set designs and costumes,” he said. “Indie” films can’t afford that, “so they edit in the effects after shooting,” he said.

“I’m really in filmmaking for storytelling, so if I never touch a camera, I don’t really care,” he said, which is why he’s been developing skills, like animation and 3-D work that are “useful all around in any type of video production.”

He’ll showcase some of those skills in his 3-D animated short “Hippo Crassy and the Victimless Crime.”

“The whole story is just about him doing hypocritical things…. It’s pretty funny.”

Dakota Miller also decided on a comedy, after a false start more in keeping with his mysterious plot. The movie follows two boys who each wake up alone in the woods. They find a sword and pickaxe, and then they find each other.

“Originally, it was just this mysterious movie with them walking around in the woods,” Miller said. “Then we realized we aren’t mysterious people. We’re more of a funny bunch.”

It’s a silent movie, too, as much for the humor as for practical reasons.

“It was really windy that day,” Miller recalled, and the only audio equipment he had was on the camera itself, not up to the job. “The minute I decided it was a silent film, I just started shooting,” he said.

Miller also makes an appearance in his movie, but his friends Christopher Hodel and Landon Storud did most of the acting.

Greer also got help from Hodel, who did the music for his film. With that exception, everything else was Greer’s creation.

“I wrote the script, modeled the characters, created the textures, did the voice acting… I wanted all of it to be original,” he said.

Greer also worked with a team on another original effort that will be part of Thursday’s festival. Film-making, according to Dockery, is definitely a cooperative effort.

This particular film, he says, “is kind of neat. It’s from… last weekend (April 28 and 29)  when we competed in the National Film Festival for Talented Youth…. On Thursday, they give you a line of dialogue, a prop, and a theme, and the kids have 48 hours to film.”

Dockery said the festival has something that will appeal to almost everyone. “There’s an action film, a comedy, sports…” Dockery said. “It’s also a fundraiser, though. Admission is $10, and that gets you into the Avengers, which is a hot new film, and for each $10, the club will receive $5.”

The club uses funds to buy new video equipment, or for school trips, such as their visit to New York over spring break.

The Wildcat Film Festival starts at 5 p.m. with student films. The feature film “The Avengers” begins at 6 p.m.

Participants in the National Film Festival for Talented Youth’s 48-hour challenge are, from left: Parker McComb, Xury Greer, Adam Nardo, Randy Knox, and Alex Stokosa.

Below, stills from student entries.


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