Friday, January 26, 2018


Everyone is invited to a screening of new work by students in the Ballard High School Digital Filmmaking Program.  The Ballard Film Festival (BFF) will be on Saturday, February 10 at 7 pm in the Ballard High School auditorium.  The screening will feature short comedies and dramas, advertisements, and documentaries.  Tickets ($10 for adults and $5 for students) will be sold at the door. 

Films that first screen at the BFF are frequently honored by film festivals.  BHS film students hit the ground running this fall with eight Official Selections in the international All American High School Film Festival, four national nominations from the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, three winners at Fresh Film Northwest, the premiere of their documentary at the Pacific Science Center IMAX, and a top prize from the National YoungArts Foundation.

Funds raised will benefit students in the Digital Filmmaking Program.  This year, a dozen film students will travel to Los Angeles to visit prestigious college film production programs, tour the industry, and meet with professional filmmakers.  Your support helps make trips such as this possible for any student in the program. 

Tuesday, January 23, 2018


Lorenzo Rossi, Class of 2014 

In fourth grade, my teacher told me to write down what kind of job I wanted. She said that most adults who feel fulfilled and satisfied in their career are doing what made them happy in elementary school. I remember writing down that I wanted to do something creative. This passion ultimately led me to Matt Lawrence’s Digital Filmmaking Program at Ballard High School.

What excites me about filmmaking is its constant combination and coordination of all art forms. The medium has allowed my passions for music, photography, writing, audio production, and personal documentary to interact in ways I never imagined. At the heart of all filmmaking is the ability to tell a story, to connect with others through personal truth. Ballard’s filmmaking pathway instills this focus in students throughout the entire program.

Besides providing an invaluable foundation in storytelling and the entire production process, the program helps students connect with industry professionals, create effective portfolios, and consistently earn scholarships at the top film schools around the world. In high school, I was able to intern at NFFTY (National Film Festival For Talented Youth), work on the camera crew of Lance Lambert’s Vintage Vehicle Show, produce a documentary for the Ballard High School Foundation, and create short films which won awards in several festivals (including a music video I directed for my band’s original song that helped me get into Emerson College with a half tuition scholarship).

Emerson has provided me with incredible opportunities to explore different creative avenues tied together by a cohesive liberal arts education. Over the past three years, I’ve worked on set in both the lighting and sound departments for countless student films, mixed bands and managed events for the college radio community, interned at Soundtrack Boston (a full service audio post production facility), and completed an immersive documentary installation and thirty page academic thesis exploring the many ways my blended family interacts in cars (What We Say In Cars). The highlight of my college experience has been the people I’ve met through Emerson who’ve pushed me as an artist and collaborator and expanded my understanding of what it means to be a filmmaker. In the Spring 2017, I will be finishing my Media Production BFA degree in Emerson’s Los Angeles campus and interning at an audio post production studio before moving back to Seattle to freelance in post sound and location recording.

Filmmaking is changing more than ever. Technological advances have caused massive shifts in patterns of distribution and production, drastically altering the ways we create and consume media. These changes can be both frightening and exciting for students thinking about entering the industry. However, the concepts, tools, and techniques taught in Ballard High School’s Digital Filmmaking Program are necessary no matter what equipment, format, or platform you end up working with. Though I am still figuring out what I want to be when I grow up, I feel fulfilled and thankful for the life I’ve been able to live and I know Lawrence’s program has pointed me in the right direction.

Thursday, January 04, 2018


Lucy Harstrick, Class of 2013

When I was in middle school I didn't know where I would possibly go after high school because I just hadn't found something that really grabbed my attention.  Sometime in 8th grade or so, my dad and I sat down to watch Evil Dead (1981).  My dad made a comment about how the movie was often studied in film schools, and I remember thinking it was the coolest thing that you could go to school for film.  I knew from then on out I would want to go into filmmaking, specifically cinematography.

I knew I loved seeing how light made me feel, and I wanted to study why certain imagery could make me feel a certain way. I also knew I wanted to tell stories by basically taking a narrative theme and translating it into images, because that's what really resonated with me. The filmmaking pathway at Ballard was the first place I got to even talk about movies and why I liked them. Getting to discuss how a certain shot made me feel or how I would shoot a certain scene was all I had been looking for. Once we started getting to storyboard our ideas and execute them, I knew I was in the right place. Learning the importance of story before all the technical ideas was perfect, because the first and most important goal of filmmaking is to tell a story that will reach people. 

In my last year at Ballard, I collaborated with my friends in class to put together a music video called Song for Anna that got recognition at the National Film Festival for Talented Youth (NFFTY), as well as a Merit Award through the National YoungArts Foundation. My time at Ballard helped me to build a strong resume and portfolio, giving me access to financial support through academic scholarships once I reached Columbia. 

I started at Columbia College Chicago as soon as I could after Ballard. I was drawn to working with 16mm and 35mm film, something I knew I wouldn't be able to do much once I left school. Instead of lighting a scene and then just checking the monitor to see how it looks, I learned how to calculate the ideal lighting ratios and do the math to figure out how much light I needed. The beauty of film is how much time you spend on each shot, making sure every part of the frame will be exposed the way you want it. Once I started shooting films digitally I was paying much closer attention to the details of light, so I think shooting on film is an important experience to have. 

I was on set nearly every weekend at Columbia. I drifted more towards the camera department, and ended up pulling focus (1st AC) on a lot of projects. I love how in touch with a scene you are as a 1st AC; paying close attention to the spatial relationships between the lens and the action feels so involved and hands on. I graduated a year early from Columbia and took a job working as part time staff in the Advanced Camera Cage at Columbia, working with film and digital cameras as a technician and Teacher’s Assistant. I started getting work on indie films and advertisements near the end of my last year in school, which is another bonus of going to school in a big city like Chicago.

As of now, December 2017, I am fully freelancing in Chicago and working mainly as a 1st or 2nd AC. I hope to be in the union, Local 600, within a few years. Working as a freelancer means I don't have a rigid schedule and I might not know when the next work is coming, but once you get the first job the rest come much easier! I love what I do, and I feel very excited to see how this industry develops. Back at Ballard, Lawrence showed me that there are so many jobs in this industry and that it really is possible to do something if you just stick with it. 

 On being a woman in the industry
It's no secret that film is a male dominated industry, specifically on the cinematography side of things. Lighting and camera departments used to be all male, but I can say that in Chicago I have worked with a relatively even mix of women and men. At least half the working cinematographers in my class were women, and there were never any competitive or cutthroat vibes. We all helped to lift each other up and look out for each other, and I've met many amazing, hardworking people in this industry.

I will say, if you decide to go into this industry as a woman, be prepared to stand up for yourself. While most men you work with will be totally respectful, it's not unheard of to come across someone that sees you differently because of your gender. Luckily, especially lately, these kinds of problems are getting more (deserved) attention and people are increasingly intolerant of sexist behavior on set. It may be intimidating to show up on a new set and see that you are the only woman in your department, but those are the women that inspired me to work in this industry. Know your strength and remember that you are there for a reason. I truly believe that the future of this industry is female, and every time I see another woman in my department it inspires me.

P.S. Good note for guys - it's great to want to help out but if you ask a woman if she needs help and she says she's got it, let her do her job! 


Friday, December 08, 2017



Wylie Soltes, a senior in Ballard High School’s Digital Filmmaking Program, has been awarded Finalist in Cinematic Arts by the National YoungArts Foundation for his short film Richard.  Finalist is the top prize.

The YoungArts program identifies and supports young talent in the areas of music, theater, visual arts, dance, photography, writing, and cinematic arts.  Soltes’s film was selected from thousands of submissions through a blind adjudication process by an independent panel of highly accomplished artists.

After high school, Soltes plans to study film production in college.  He pitched Richard to his filmmaking class last winter. The story concerns a stolen tool kit that creates a bond between two adversaries.  Stoles worked with co-producers Ethan Hawthorne-Dallas, Aaron Mamaril, and Ian Colbeck to realize his vision.  Richard had its premiere at the international All American High School Film Festival in New York City in early October, and screened at the Portland Art Museum in November as a winner in Fresh Film Northwest – a festival that receives competition from 5 Northwest states as well as the province of British Columbia.  Richard can now be seen online at .

As a Finalist, YoungArts will fly Soltes to Miami in January for a week of networking and mentoring with other promising young filmmakers and professionals (such as award-winning director, producer, editor, writer, and cinematographer Doug Blush).  In addition, Soltes will be sharing his film with the public at Miami’s New World Center.  YoungArts will also provide Soltes with financial assistance for college.

Soltes is the eighth YoungArts winner from Ballard's Digital Filmmaking Program in the last five years.  Others have gone on to top-ranked college programs for film and television.   

Friday, November 03, 2017

Ballard’s Documentary for IMAX Gets a Big Screen Premiere

On the Backs of Salmon, a short documentary produced for IMAX and the United Nations Environment by students in Ballard High School’s Digital Filmmaking Program, will have its big screen premiere at Seattle’s Pacific Science Center IMAX on Thursday, November 9th at 6 pm.  The short will be followed by Q & A with the filmmakers.  It will be shown at a members-only screening of the new 3D nature documentary, Amazon Adventure, but IMAX has reserved 75 seats for the Ballard filmmakers and their entourage.

The project is the result of the IMAX “In Focus” program.  In partnership with the United Nations Environment, IMAX consulted with the All American High School Film Festival to select 5 “exemplary” filmmaking programs from across the US to address the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals #13-15: Climate Action, Life Below Water, and Life on Land.  Each participating program received a $5,000 grant.  The goal was to encourage students interested in filmmaking to use their talents to develop films that promote change.  

On the Backs of Salmon tells the encouraging story behind the largest dam removal in world history - the Elwha on the Olympic Peninsula.  The students were inspired by this story because it shows the power of people to change things, and the power of nature to bounce back.  It premiered online last spring during the UN's World Environment Day, and was screened this fall at the All American High School Film Festival in New York City.

Wednesday, November 01, 2017


Three short films produced by students in the Ballard High School Digital Filmmaking Program are winners at Fresh Film Northwest.  This competitive regional festival is coordinated by the Northwest Film Center in Portland, Oregon.  It accepts entries from filmmakers ages 13 to 19 in Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington.  This is the thirteenth year in a row that students from Ballard’s Digital Filmmaking Program have been among the winners. 

The winning films include a documentary, an animation piece, and a short comedy.  The documentary 9066, by Maya Konz, Bailey Wall, Kajsa Woolford, and Nolan Baker, tells the story of the internment of US citizens of Japanese ancestry during WWII.  The film has already won numerous awards, including First Prize at the Dominique Dunne Film Competition, best Long Form Non-Fiction in the student division at the Northwest Emmy Awards, and an Award of Excellence in Documentary at the Northwest High School Film Festival

In the short comedy, Richard (by Wylie Soltes, Ian Colbeck, Ethan Hawthorne-Dallas, and Aaron Mamaril) a stolen tool kit creates a bond between two strangers with little in common.  Richard premiered at the AllAmerican High School Film Festival in New York City last month.  Also among the winners is the short Tidal Cruiser, produced independently by Ballard film student Brendan Hickey. 

A jury of filmmakers and educators screened over one hundred entries from across the five state region to select winners for the festival.  The winners will be screened at the Portland Art Museum’s Whitsell Auditorium this Saturday, November 4 at 11 am.  Admission is free and the public is welcome to attend.

Ballard film students also received an Honorable Mention for their experimental short City 'Scape by Brendan Hickey, Jonathan Bowers and Gracie Morris. 

Thursday, October 19, 2017


Ballard’s Majestic Bay Theatre will screen Coraline on Saturday, October 28 at 9:30 am. Tickets are $10 each.  Proceeds will benefit students in the Digital Filmmaking Program at Ballard High School. 

If you live in Ballard, chances are you frequent the Majestic Bay Theatres.  And if you’ve seen a film at the Bay, chances are you’ve seen A Trip to the Groovies, the policy trailer produced by students in the Ballard High School Digital Filmmaking Program. 

For years, the Majestic Bay showed A Trip to the Movies to inform audiences of theater rules and etiquette.  A mock instructional film set in what appears to be 1960, the trailer follows two children, Russ and Ellen, as they navigate the process of movie-going.  When the Bay went digital in 2014, they needed a policy trailer in a digital format.  Rather than purchasing a ready-made trailer, the Bay invited the Digital Filmmaking Program at BHS to produce one.  The film students were thrilled!  After considering various ideas, Ballard’s filmmakers decided to follow Russ and Ellen to the movies again – this time in 1977.  The challenging concept required period vehicles, costumes, hair, make-up, and actors who might possibly be the original Russ and Ellen - seventeen years later.

The Majestic Bay was so pleased with the new trailer that they made an immediate donation and also pledged to host an annual fundraiser for the Digital Filmmaking Program.  The screening of Coraline on October 28 is the third annual event, and will be preceded by A Trip to the Groovies.  So that future audiences will continue to appreciate the parody elements in the new trailer, the Bay also had the former trailer digitized to show from time to time.

Ballard's Digital Filmmaking Program provides state-of-the-art equipment and professional experiences for students, and has a well-established record of preparing students for college and careers in media-related fields.  It is funded largely by support from the Ballard community, thanks to partners such as The Majestic Bay.