The Cherokee Office of Economic Development (COED), in partnership with the Cherokee County School District’s (CCSD) Audio/Video Technology and Film (AVTF) educators announced the winners of the sixth annual Cherokee Student Film Festival as part of a live screening and awards presentation on March 27.

26 student-made films were screened at Woodstock Arts for more than 200 attendees.

Student submissions are held to strict parameters to prepare them for real-world production requirements. Twenty groups qualified for judging and were assessed by post-secondary film instructors Steven Hames (Berry College), Dr. James “Jay” Hamilton (University of Georgia), Meredith Muse (Chattahoochee Technical College), Mitch Olson (Kennesaw State University), alongside Media Producer Justin Webb, and Peaberry Film Festival Founder Brent Lambert-Zaffino.

Awards were issued based on the judges’ total scores in the following categories: Best Cinematography, Best Sound Quality, Best Use of Prop, Best Use of Line and Best of Show. Festival attendees cast their votes in the Audience Choice category.

This year’s winners included:

After Years | “Best of Show – WINNER”; Tie, “Best Cinematography”; “Best Use of Line”; “Best Sound”
M12 Productions – Creekview High School
Chloe Feibus & Jack Estapa

The Kazoo Choir | “Best of Show – RUNNER UP”; “Best Use of Prop”
Mulberry Street Productions – Woodstock High School
Quintin Rodriguez, Hayden Nowiak, Christian Beswick & Khalil Pendleton

Just in Your Head | “Best of Show – 3rd Place”
Fifty Cents Productions – Sequoyah High School
Ava Roberts, Brooklyn Baggarly, Noah Popp & Justin Clark

Lost Interest | “4th Place”; Tie, “Best Cinematography”;
Aspect Studios – Sequoyah High School
Shiven Amrith, Liliana DeFiore, Noelle Graden & Emma Fistel

The Rise & Fall of Larry Yunker | “5th Place”; “Audience Choice Award for a Qualifying Entry”
Skat Play – Creekview High School
Nicholas Zaczek, Nate Melia, Preston Anweiler, Nolan Fader

The Pillow Fight | “Audience Choice Award for a Participating Entry”
JJSER Studios – Sequoyah High School
Rylee Steward, Jake Jira, Emerson Krantz, Jackson Jurnack, Sophia Lewis

The Cherokee Student Film Festival comes as the second partnership between COED and CCSD AVTF this year. The 5th Annual Cherokee Student Film Summit was held on March 14 at the YANMAR EVO//Center.

Students heard from a star-studded lineup of film professionals, including John Swartz, creative producer on Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Solo: A Star Wars Story and The Mandalorian. Through engaging hands-on breakout sessions, students were able to ask questions and connect with producers, sound designers, lighting professionals, camera operators, prop masters and representatives of the Georgia Film Academy and Disney/Marvel.  

The festival and summit were both created to build skills and connect students to jobs and post-secondary training opportunities, but the study of film itself can be transformative.

“Being in AVTF has really opened me up to the idea that film is subjective, and showed me that everybody’s story is unique,” said sophomore Shiven Amrith, a Sequoyah Student who worked on Aspect Studios’ Lost Interest. “I’ve had the opportunity to work with so many different people, and I’m going to continue to get different perspectives on my work.”

Lost Interest tied for Best Cinematography and finished 4th place.

AVTF educators collaborate with COED year-round to prepare for the summit and festival.

“Thank you to our talented Career Pathway film and video teachers and the valuable partner we have in the Cherokee Office of Economic Development,” said Superintendent of Schools Mary Elizabeth Davis. “Partnerships amplify the success of our schools, and this festival is shining example of collaborating effectively to benefit our students and the community.”

“A key aspect of our collaboration with CCSD is to help students hone their craft and sharpen their skills,” said Misti Martin, President & CEO of COED. “We want to challenge them while also connecting them with potential career opportunities in film and media.” 

To learn more about film in Cherokee, visit cherokeega.org/film-media.