Mount Si student gets short film accepted into Seattle Children’s Film Festival

A short film on the impacts of climate change in Antarctica is taking Mount Si High School junior Annie Hager to the Seattle Children’s International Film Festival. Hager’s short film “Step One” is being shown at the festival, which opened Jan. 25 and runs through Feb. 10.

In April, 2017, Hager entered a short film competition for high school students hosted by the University of Washington School of Environmental and Forest Sciences. Students were tasked with making short films around the theme “to convince a climate-change skeptic to take action.”

Hager was inspired to participate by a report on the declining population of penguins in Antarctica that she saw on the CBS Morning Show. In the story, CBS interviewed Bob Farrell, station manager for the the U.S. Antarctic research post Palmer Station, to discuss the impact of climate change on the wildlife. Hager decided she would condense that topic into her own short documentary for the competition.

To get the details of the how the penguin population had changed, she decided to contact Farrell herself. He agreed to help with the video and sent Hager video clips of the penguins outside the station and agreed to have audio clips from their phone conversation recorded for the short.

“He is in Antarctica so that’s how I got a lot of the clips of the penguins and scenery for my film,” she said. “I emailed him and he was super helpful and super nice.”

After the short film was finished and submitted, Hager was invited to the UW Climate Change Video awards at Seattle City Hall; the top five entrants had their short films screened and received feedback from a panel of judges.

While Hager’s film didn’t make it into the top three, “Step One” was one of the runners up. She received praise from the judges for relating the lives of the penguins to the lives of high school students in Washington, and getting the footage from Palmer Station.

“It was super nice to have people come up and talk to me,” she said. “I didn’t get first, second or third, but it was still really cool. People told me to keep making films and keep working at it. I feel like that’s what inspired me to enter this other one.”

After the UW competition, Hager was looking for other festivals to submit her film to and found the Seattle Children’s International Film Festival in December. Her film was accepted for the student short film section of the festival relatively quickly, she said.

“I definitely did not expect all of this, she said. “I don’t think its going to win anything, but I definitely feel like now I’ve exposed it, I’ve got a lot more confidence and it helped me grow, with other films I want to make and come up with new ideas. I just feel really excited about this festival… I’d like to see what other kids my age have to show about completely different subjects.”

Hager said she plans to continue making documentaries and short films in her future and wants to look into those options when she goes to college.

“I want to expand on different topics and subjects and things I’ve experienced,” she said. “It inspires me to want to make more.”

“Step One” is available to watch on the website for the University of Washington competition at

A group of penguins walk across an icy path at the Palmer Station in Antarctica. (Courtesy Photo)

A group of penguins walk across an icy path at the Palmer Station in Antarctica. (Courtesy Photo)

A photo of a penguin used in Hager’s short film. (Courtesy Photo)

A photo of a penguin used in Hager’s short film. (Courtesy Photo)