Saturday, December 20, 2008


Last summer, three students from Ballard High School's Digital Filmmaking Project were recruited by writer/director George Westberg from film school at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts to crew his short comedy "Time Keeps on Skippin'." These students had just completed their sophomore year of high school and their first year in Ballard's Digital Filmmaking Project. Emily Deering was selected as Art Director, Daniel Maldonado as Sound Recordist, and Alexandra Papac as Camera Operator (although they also got to try their hands at other aspects of production). Another Ballard video student, Coburn Erskine ('08), was recruited as Lighting Director and brought his years of student video experience onto the set. Westberg was strongly confident in all of these students because he too made his start in filmmaking at Ballard High School. (He had graduated in '06.)

On Friday, January 9, Westberg will return to the BHS auditorium at 7 pm to talk with video students and screen "Time", as well as another recent student work "3 - 2 = 0." This is a private test screening for Seattle's film community, but the Ballard High School community is also invited. (Please be advised that this is college work with elements that may not be appropriate for younger children.) "Time" stars Emily McVicker ('06) and David Kulcsar ('06). McVicker, another alumnus of the BHS Video Production Program, is currently studying musical theater at Point Park College in Pittsburgh, and Kulcsar is studying acting at the University of Washington, Seattle. Sophia Federighi ('05) and Aaron Persinger ('05), also BHS video alumni, have supporting roles.

The previous summer, Westberg also cast Kulcsar and McVicker in his original short "Love is the Elle-Word." It was an Official Selection at the National Film Festival of Talented Youth, a festival that celebrates work by both high school and college age filmmakers.

Westberg had taken his first class in Ballard's Video Production Program during the fall of his junior year. His interest was piqued early in his very first projects, and at the conclusion of the course his teacher Matt Lawrence took the unusual step of placing him in the advanced class at the beginning of spring semester. His subsequent music video became a Finalist at the national Derek Freese High School Video Festival, an event hosted annually by Temple University's prestigious Film School in Philadelphia.

The following fall, Westberg sent his productions and application to the Film School at New York University. Although this school typically admits less than 3% of applicants, Westberg learned in December that he had been accepted.

During his remaining months at Ballard, Westberg directed the caffeinated comedy "The Buzz" (which won an Award of Excellence for Comedic Narrative at the regional Northwest High School Film Festival), and produced the documentary "Soccer Dads" (which was an Official Selection at the national Westport Youth Film Festival).

Westberg's final Ballard short "Bittersweet," produced along with Erskine, went on to receive not only an Award of Excellence for Dramatic Narrative at the Northwest High School Film Festival and Official Selections at Westport, Derek Freese, and the Young People's Film & Video Festivals, but it also won an Award of Excellence for Writing from the National Student Television Awards, presented at the 2007 Northwest Regional Emmy Awards by the National Association of Television Arts & Sciences.