Monday, December 05, 2016


Skala Leake, a junior in Ballard High School’s Digital Filmmaking Program, has been awarded an Honorable Mention in Cinematic Arts by the National YoungArts Foundation for her short film Comeback.  The award was given in recognition of the “exceptional artistic achievement” evident in her work.  Honorable Mention is the second tier of honors awarded by YoungArts, above the Merit Award and second only to their top prize. 

The YoungArts program identifies and supports young talent in the areas of music, theater, visual arts, photography, writing, and cinematic arts.  Skala’s work was selected for honors from thousands of submissions through a blind adjudication process by a nationally and internationally renowned panel of judges, master teachers, and artists.  She pitched Comeback to her filmmaking class last winter.  It was selected for production, and she worked with classmates Avery Davis, Cameron Miller, and Aaron Miller to realize her story of a promising soccer player facing a life-altering setback.  Since premiering at the Ballard Film Festival last June, Comeback had its national premiere at the All American High School Film Festival in New York City in early October, and was screened at the Portland Art Museum on November 12 as a winner in Fresh Film Northwest – a festival that receives competition from 5 Northwest states as well as the province of British Columbia.  Comeback can now be seen online on the Digital Filmmaking Program’s vimeo site.  After high school, Skala plans to study media arts in college. 

The award comes with a college recommendation from YoungArts, as well as an invitation for Skala to participate in the YoungArts regional programs.  Previous YoungArts winners in the Digital Filmmaking Program have gone on to top-ranked college programs for film and television and successful careers in the film industry. 


Kaila Lafferty (class of 2012)

Growing up I had this creative energy that I could never figure out how to focus. I couldn’t draw or paint, but one thing I was really good at was telling stories. It wasn’t until high school that I realized that telling stories could be my future. I decided to join the Digital Filmmaking Program at Ballard High School, and from that point on I knew my passion.

Shortly after beginning my first production class I found that I had another passion: filming. I learned that there is no better feeling in the world than clean rack focus, or framing up the perfect shot. By the time I finished high school, my films had been nominated by the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences for Student Production Awards presented at the Northwest Regional Emmys, featured (three times) in the National Film Festival for Talented Youth (an international festival), and won Best Documentary at the national Derek Freese Youth Film Festival in Philadelphia. The knowledge I gained from the Digital Filmmaking Program at Ballard High School was invaluable, and gave me the tools I needed to find my path in life.

I graduated in 2012 and decided to take my passion for storytelling to The Edward R. Murrow College ofCommunication at Washington State University, where I majored in Broadcast Journalism.  During my years there, I aced my classes involving filming and editing, and became a producer for Cable 8 Productions. My senior year I interned at KHQ Local News in Spokane, Washington and this is where I learned that being a reporter was my calling. As I was graduating with my bachelor’s degree in May of 2016, I found out that I had won a Northwest Regional Emmy for Best Overall Newscast for a show I had produced for Murrow News 8. 

I decided to accept a job as reporter and anchor for KLEW News in Lewiston, Idaho. Every day I get to meet new people and tell their stories, I get to film and edit and - best of all – pursue the passion for storytelling. I couldn’t have done this without what I learned from Mr. Lawrence and the Digital Filmmaking Program.

Saturday, October 22, 2016


Three short films by students from 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, British Columbia, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington.  This is the twelfth year in a row that students from Ballard’s Digital Filmmaking Program have been among the winners. 

The winning films include two short dramatic narratives and a documentary.  The visual story Comeback, by Avery Davis, Skala Leake, Aaron Miller and Cameron Miller, is about a high school soccer player who suffers a life-altering setback.  The film recently premiered at the national All American High School Film Festival in New York City.  Fresh Film Northwest will be the premiere of Living Honestly, a documentary about teens coming out by PJ Hase and Skala Leake. The third film, Eileen, was produced independently by Brendan Hickey with Sam Cleary and will receive the Creative Expression Award.

A jury of filmmakers and educators screened 130 entries from across the region to select winners for the festival.  The festival winners will be screened at the Portland Art Museum’s Whitsell Auditorium on November 12 at noon.

Living Honestly, along with other new works by students in the Digital Filmmaking Program, will have its Seattle premiere at the Ballard Film Festival on Friday, February 10 at 7 pm in the BHS auditorium.  Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students.  All proceeds support students in the BHS Digital Filmmaking Program.