Nine McCulloch Intermediate School sixth graders acted, filmed, and edited their way to a fourth-place finish in Dallas’ 24-Hour Video Race in early April.
The Freakishly Filmmaking Friends were the youngest team to make it to the finals, competing against teams of high schoolers in the Super 8 (10th grade and younger) category.
“We were all really surprised that we even made it into the finals because there were other really good groups that didn’t make it,” said actress Rebecca Lembcke. “When we made it to the finals, it was such a big honor that it didn’t matter to us what we got after that.”
The group would never have gotten that far if not for organizer, director, producer, writer, and film and sound editor Ainsley Wiseman’s passion for film. She learned about the competition through her friend’s dad, who was also a judge for the race.
“I’ve been really interested in directing movies, so when I found out, I thought it sounded awesome,” Wiseman said.
The competition is open to anyone with a love of film, whether a student, a professional actor, or a filmmaker. At midnight on April 1, contestants gathered at the Angelika Film Center to write, shoot, edit, and score 5-minute long films.
Ainsley Wiseman: Producer, Director, Script Writer, Film and Sound Editing
Rebecca Lembcke: Script Writer, Actor (Ella), Editing
Zach Anderson: Script Writer, Actor (Ethan), Editing
Billy Craft: Actor (Lawrence)
Annabelle Sartain: Actor (Extra)
Brennan Jordan: Actor (Mother and Extra)
Nick Swartzendruber: Actor (Father and Extra)
Edwin Heasley: Extra
Ava Maloy: Extra, Costumes, Make-up and Hair
Each year, four elements must be included in the submitted film: a prop, a location, a theme, and a line. This year’s elements included a bike as the prop, a fountain as the location, yin and yang for the theme, and “you should know better,” as the line.
“It took a long time to figure out what we wanted the film to be about. We all had different ideas,” said Ava Maloy. “We couldn’t decide if we wanted it to be sad or silly, but we decided on sad.”
The film, A Light in the Darkness, follows a boy named Ethan, whose parents were mugged and killed. Surrounded by his friends, Ethan faces flashbacks of memories of his parents. He must learn how to face life without his parents, and how to handle his emotions.
Each team member had a crucial part in making the movie happen, from makeup and costume art, to screen writing, to special effects.
Some of the filmmaking friends already had experience acting. Zach Anderson, who played Ethan, has been with the Kim Dawson Agency, a modeling agency, for three or four years.
“Right now it’s a bit of a dry season for auditions, so when they asked me if I wanted to do this competition I said yes,” Anderson said.
Lembcke has been acting in musical theatre since she was three years old and has since been looking for opportunities like this competition.
“I’ve been wanting to get in front of the camera with film and stuff like that,” Lembcke said. “I was happy when Ainsley asked me to do it, I thought this would be a really good way to start off.”
For the others, the competition was their on-screen debut. Many of the kids agreed they would pursue the film industry and continue to encourage each other to do so.
“We had a lot of chemistry and all of us got along really well,” Wiseman said. “We had fun together and I’m hoping we can do it again next year.”