High School Filmmakers Take Top Honor at 5th Annual Cherokee Student Film Festival 

The Cherokee Office of Economic Development (COED), in partnership with the Cherokee County School District’s (CCSD) Audio/Video Technology and Film (AVTF) educators, recently announced the winners of the 5th annual Cherokee Student Film Festival as part of a live screening and awards presentation held at Sequoyah High School’s Skip Pope Stadium on April 28, 2023.

Student films were screened on the Jumbotron as over 200 audience members cheered on a record 25 groups of student filmmakers from across the county.

The Cherokee Student Film Festival represents COED’s second event designed in collaboration with CCSD AVTF teachers this year. On March 16th, COED hosted the 4th Annual Cherokee Student Film Summit at the YANMAR EVO//Center.  Students connected with representatives from regional post-secondary film programs, explored career paths, and received expert instruction through engaging breakout sessions.

Creekview 10th grader, Chloe Feibus, implemented techniques she learned at the Film Summit while creating her festival entry. “Pritchett Cotten taught a class on the psychology of cinematography and how camera movement impacted how the viewer felt—that really spoke to me,” said Feibus, who along with teammates Jackson Estapa and Logan Carr, won Runner Up Best of Show for their film The First Day of Spring. “It influenced every shot of our film.”

AVTF Instructors collaborate with COED year-round to prepare for the summit and festival.  “As AVTF teachers we feel such pride in our students as they bare their creative hearts and screen their art for the community at the Cherokee Student Film Festival,” said Etowah High School AVTF Instructor Linda Yunker. “They are scared, they are hopeful – and then they are filled with accomplishment and joy when the audience laughs or gasps or cries at just the right place in their film.  Nothing in the classroom can compare.”

The collaboration between COED and CCSD’s AVTF teachers continues to create opportunities for students to connect, create, and apply what they are learning—even through event production. Sequoyah High School’s AVTF students prepared graphics, sizzle reels, and videos to promote the festival.  SHS Freshman Shiven Amrith, whose team submitted the highly popular entry Blurred Lines, was also a key player in event production efforts. “This is basically our AVTF Championship—it was important that what I created supported the event. Making everything by hand felt more true to myself—it was something I can be proud of.”

“COED is focused on expanding the local economy, and growing film & digital entertainment is a target.  This cannot be done without an educated and talented workforce. Our AVTF students are developing comprehensive film production skills that can support all industries. Our partnership with CCSD has yielded two strong events designed to develop skill, hone craft, and practically connect students to next steps in training and careers,” said COED President & CEO Misti Martin.

With strict parameters designed to simulate production requirements, 13 groups of students from across the county met criteria for judging. Qualifying submissions were judged by regional post-secondary film instructors Dr. James Hamilton (University of Georgia), Steven Hames (Berry College), Meredith Muse (Chattahoochee Technical College), along with Brent Lambert-Zaffino (Peaberry Film Festival, Founder), Richard Tavernaro (Cobb International Film Festival, Director), Justin Webb (Media Producer), and retired CNN Control Room Director Mark Hylback.

“We’re so proud of our students for focusing on their future in the film industry by participating in this outstanding opportunity,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower said.  “This special program would not happen without the leadership of the Cherokee Office of Economic Development, our dedicated Career Pathway film and video teachers and the film industry professionals who share their time and expertise.  We appreciate all that they do to help bring our students’ dreams to the big screen.”

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 were able to cast votes in the Audience Choice category.


I’m not a Psychopath (Winner: Best of Show, Best Use of Prop, Best Cinematography, Best Sound Quality, Best Use of Line & Audience Choice Award)

Sequoyah High School

Created by: Ava Roberts, Lauren Turnage, Noah Popp & Justin Clark

The First Day of Spring (Winner: Runner Up Best of Show & Best Use of Line)

Creekview High School

Created by: Chloe Feibus, Jackson Estapa & Logan Carr

Bound (Winner: 3rd Place Best of Show)

Etowah High School

Created by: Marissa Migneco, Sophia Berry & Kaili Phillips

Growing Older (Winner: Audience Choice Award)

Sequoyah High School
Created by: Aidan Murphy & Kayla Murphy

The Movie (Winner: Audience Choice Award)

Cherokee High School

Created by: Hunter Tadin, Hunter Schwartz, Mackenzie Glover & Daniel Reilly

To learn more about film in Cherokee and to view the 2023 Cherokee Student Film Festival winning entries, visit cherokeega.org/film-media.