Film Fest lets local teens showcase their creativity

By ERIN SHAW — eshaw@islandpacket.com

Madeleine Tipton woke up with amnesia.

She couldn't recall a single thing, but as she touched objects around her room, each one gave her glimpses of important memories and insights into what she used to want and like.

A seashell reminded her of her love for the ocean. A mask showed her desire to dance at a masquerade ball. When she touched a box of matches, she saw a burnt house, ruined and frightening, but key to understanding her predicament.

The 14-year-old doesn't really have amnesia but that's how her short film, "Amnesia," begins. Madeleine entered her piece in Beaufort County Library's 4th Annual Teen Film Fest, where she will compete against 12 amateur films submitted by teens from around the county.

The contest has been accepting entries since late August and will be screening the finished works Thursday at Plaza Stadium Theater in Beaufort and Saturday at Park Plaza Cinema on Hilton Head Island.

Teens ages 11 to 17 could enter as teams or individuals. There were no restrictions on the film's story theme, length or budget. The only caveat was that the films could not use copyright material, including music.

"It is important to have an opportunity available for young people to express themselves creatively," said Melanie Florencio, a Beaufort County librarian and the film fest's organizer. "Beaufort County has been the feature location for many award-winning films and by having the Teen Film Festival, it gives young people a chance to create a fresh new perspective on a familiar place."

Madeleine filmed her piece in and near her home using an HD Flip camera -- a pretty simple video recorder -- and a tripod. Her interest in filmmaking started about a year ago, she said, and she's been cultivating it ever since. A green screen hangs from her closet, and a large light fixture takes up a large portion of her room. She now works with Final Cut Pro, a video editing software used by film industry professionals.

"I'm still learning stuff," said Madeleine, who often watches YouTube tutorials online. She also has her own YouTube channel, youtube.com/hallowgallow. Most of her videos are quirky and funny. Some have more than 1,000 views.

"I'd like to get more into YouTube than anything else because you don't have to go to filmmaking school to impress people," Madeleine said. "I like making people laugh more than anything."

When it came to the film festival, however, Madeleine said she thought something serious would be more appropriate.

"I think it's going to be confusing," she said, adding that the ideas in her head don't always translate clearly to the screen. "But I'm proud of what I did, and that's all that really matters to me."

The film contest will be judged by Ron and Rebecca Tucker from the Beaufort Film Society, and Rob Lewis from Beaufort County Broadcast Services. The contest was made possible by a grant that was earmarked for all teens in Beaufort from the Lowcountry Women in Philanthropy group.

"With all that is going on in the film industry, it is just natural for our lovely state of South Carolina to be offering teens the opportunity to learn how to become filmmakers at such a young age," said Lucie Mann, owner of Park Plaza Cinema.

Mann's son is currently studying film at New York University, which she attributes to the opportunities he had as a teen to learn about film on Hilton Head.

Madeleine, on the other hand, said she doesn't plan on going to school for film. She's happy with it as a hobby. A hobby she keeps getting better at.

"Every video I've done is better than the last one," she said.

Original story from the Island Packet