Students from across the Coachella Valley are showing off their filmmaking skills this week.
The Palm Springs Student Short Film Festival is in its fourth year, and it is attracting more attention each time.
A record number of entries were submitted this year.
“The first year we had seven submissions, and we showed all seven of them,” says Anna Hammond, a Palm Springs High School senior who founded the film festival four years ago. “This year, we had over 60 submissions, and we’re showing 25.”
More than half of those 25 final entries came from Coachella Valley students. Desert Mirage High School in Thermal leads the pack with seven. Four entries came from middle schools.
Hammond explains the surge in the festival’s popularity. “One student did something and won an award. Then, a lot of students at that school said ‘Hey, I could do that same thing!'”
The films will be screened Thursday evening, April 23, and Saturday morning, April 25. Over $15,000 in prizes are being awarded this year.
The winner will show his — or her — film at this year’s Palm Springs International Short Film Festival which takes place in June.
Local filmmakers are excited about youth’s interests in filmmaking. Denise DuBarry Hay says filmmaking gets students’ creative juices flowing.
“They have to learn how to write for video and visuals, which is a whole different kind of writing,” DuBarry Hay says from her La Quinta home.
DuBarry Hay, whose movie “Shoot the Hero” will be released this year, says the Internet and YouTube are inspiring young people to pick up a camera.
But, she warns, the filmmaking industry is tough. Even if these students do not make it in Hollywood, DuBarry Hay advises them not to give up. The skills they are learning may become handy for another career.
Anna Hammond says the film festival will continue after she graduates this year.
In fact a company in Spain has inquired already about the film festival, she says.