Tuesday, March 27, 2018


During the second week in March, a dozen students in the BHS Digital Filmmaking Program travelled to Los Angeles to visit college film and television programs, catch up with program alumni, tour the industry, and meet with professional filmmakers.  The trip included Chapman University, EmersonCollege, Loyola Marymount University, and the University of Southern California – all colleges ranked by the Hollywood Reporter as among the best film schools in the country. 

In addition to official tours, the students received the inside scoop from recent graduates of the BHS Digital Filmmaking Program who are currently enrolled, or have studied, at these colleges.  Sophie DeGreen (’16) and Sho Schrock (’16) are both attending Chapman University.  Sophie is majoring in Film Production, and Sho, Creative Producing.  Lorenzo Rossi (BHS ’14) is currently at the Los Angeles campus of Emerson College.  The program allows film majors to work an internship in the film industry as they complete their degree.  At Loyola Marymount students met with Matt Law-Phipps (BHS ’10, LMU ‘15).  Matt has a production business in Los Angeles and moonlights as an actor.  (You can see him currently as Kendrick in The Payne’s on the Oprah Winfrey Network.)  The students met with Rikke Heinecke (BHS ’11, USC ‘15) at the University of Southern California.  Rikke is currently producing music videos for major artists such as Justin Bieber and The Chainsmokers.    

The students also toured Warner Brothers and Universal Studios, and attended a live multi-camera shoot of a television episode (Mom, with Allison Janney).  They also met with industry professionals to discuss their craft and careers.  On the itinerary were writer/producer Jason Cahill (Writers Guild of America award winner for The Sopranos) in addition to BHS Digital Filmmaking Program alumni such as writer Brendan McCarthy (BHS ’04, NYU ’07) – nominated this year for a Writers’ Guild of America award for his work on Grace and Frankie – production manager Mixtli Zavaleta (BHS ’07, UW-Seattle ’11), and writer/director Jesse Harris (BHS ’04).  Harris’s second feature, Borrego, is currently in development.  

Sunday, March 04, 2018


Zach Boone and Bailey Wall received the
"Golden Sasquatch" for Best Student Film

 The Shoreline Short Shorts Film Festival (SSSFF) presented the prize for Best Student Film to students from Ballard’s Digital Filmmaking Program last night at Shoreline Community College.  Zach Boone, PJ Hase, Aidan Jereczek & Bailey Wall won the award for their film Bottled Emotions.  The short concerns a man with the magical ability to steal and bottle other people’s emotions.  Another short by Ballard film students, I’ll be There by Maureen Brown, Claude Brun and Veronica Redpath, was also an Official Selection at the festival.  

The festival accepts work from professional filmmakers as well as college and high school students throughout Washington.  From 91 films submitted, only 14 were selected for the festival. This is the second annual event, and the second year in a row that students from Ballard's Digital Filmmaking Program have been prize-winners at the festival.  

Both shorts can be seen on the Digital Filmmaking Program's vimeo page.

Monday, February 26, 2018


Continuing their winning streak since fall, students in Ballard’s Digital Filmmaking Program scored two more awards for their work.  The documentary 9066 by Nolan Baker, Maya Konz, Bailey Wall and Kajsa Woolford was named a CINE Golden Eagle Finalist for Youth Documentary.  The student producers were invited to a CINE Celebrates reception in New York.    

The Golden Eagle awards honor excellence in media production through criteria focused on storytelling, originality, and meeting the needs of the intended audience.  For six decades, the Council on International Non-theatrical Events (CINE) has recognized and encouraged new talent while honoring the achievements of established media makers.  Their honorary board of directors includes such luminaries as Ken Burns, Bill Moyers, and Steven Spielberg.  

Also during the fall semester, City’Scape by Jonathan Bowers, Brendan Hickey, and Gracie Morris won 2nd Prize in the Experimental category at the Philadelphia Youth Film Festival.  Tom Myers of Skywalker Sound led the jury for the Experimental category.

Both productions can be seen on our vimeo site at www.vimeo.com/bhsfilmprogram. .

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 www.vimeo.com/bhsfilmprogram .

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.