Sunday, February 21, 2010


Jesse Harris, Class of 2004

At only 24 Jesse Harris, Co-Founder and Executive Director of the National Film Festival for Talented Youth (NFFTY NNFTY), is leading the next generation of young and talented filmmakers. Variety agrees, and named Jesse Harris one of 25 talents who transformed youth entertainment in 2009 for his work at NFFTY.

Jesse was born and raised in Seattle and began making films in childhood. During his three years in the Ballard High School Video Production Program, Jesse won twelve awards and honors at regional and national youth film festivals. These included prizes in narrative, documentary, and news production. However, his most memorable accomplishment was his senior project: the feature length drama Living Life that he wrote and directed at the age of 17. The film tells the story of a teenage boy battling cancer and how he changes other people’s lives in the process of reconciling himself to his illness.

Choosing to live his dream as a filmmaker, Jesse financed Living Life through funds raised by rallying friends, family, local organizations and using a majority of his college fund. Jesse hired "the best in the business" using a professional Seattle-based crew and actors to film the production between his junior and senior years of high school.

His efforts paid off. In 2004, Living Life was one of 20 features invited to be part of the annual lFP New York Film Market. It was also an Audience Award winner at the 2004 Orinda Film Festival. That same year Jesse was a semi-finalist for the IFP Spirit Award "Someone to Watch."

Jesse then partnered with FilmMates Entertainment for completion and distribution of Living Life, becoming the youngest known American director to obtain multi-city theatrical release and distribution of a feature film. Living Life was theatrically released in April 2005 and bought by HBO Central Europe and TV in Israel. Vivendi Visual Entertainment purchased Living Life for DVD distribution.

As a result of his experience making, releasing and distributing his own film, Jesse decided to create an organization to support other young filmmakers. In 2007 Jesse co-founded The National Film Festival for Talented Youth (NFFTY), a new film festival and non-profit organization to support young filmmakers 22 and under. The first sponsor of the festival was Volvo Cars of North America, which became involved after Jesse produced a commercial for the Volvo C30.

Jesse continues to pursue filmmaking and is currently working on a variety of projects. Film and commercial clips can be seen at:

Saturday, February 20, 2010


Aaron Morse, Class of 2006

Since graduating from Ballard in 2006, I've been attending Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. I'm a junior on the broadcast track in the Medill School of Journalism. Outside of class, I'm the co-sports director of 89.3 FM WNUR, the largest student radio station in the country. I am also a contributor to the Emmy winning television show "Sports Night" on the Northwestern News Network.

WNUR was basically the reason I went to Northwestern in the first place. Ever since I realized I couldn't be a major league baseball player, my goal has been to be a baseball broadcaster. The thing that attracted me to WNUR was that freshmen were eligible to do baseball play by play. WNUR does live play by play of every Northwestern football game, all home men's basketball games and select road games, all home and all conference women's basketball games, as well as baseball, softball, and lacrosse in the spring.

Last spring I was chosen as the new co-sports director along with my friend Andrew Gothelf. As sports directors, we are responsible for all broadcast assignments, maintaining relations with our corporate donors, and requesting credentials and ordering all necessary phone and ISDN lines for road broadcasts. One of our main focuses has been the upgrade of our web-site under Web Director Adam Pumm. We're very proud of the site now, as it's a destination for audio and feature stories about the Northwestern Wildcats, as well as a place where fans can listen to all broadcasts online. You can find us at

One of the perks of being co-sports director is that we get to go to the biggest event of the year for NU: The Alamo Bowl in San Antonio. The Northwestern football team went 9-3 this year (I was on play by play for the Duke, Iowa, Purdue, and Michigan games, all of which were wins), and now they play Missouri in the Alamo Bowl. Road trips in general are really fun, because it's all paid for by either the Athletic Department or the station, but this is the road trip of road trips! We're looking to be the first WNUR crew to be on the call for a Wildcat victory in a bowl game. The last NU bowl victory was 1949, a year before WNUR existed.

When I'm not at Northwestern in the summer, I've been broadcasting baseball. After my freshman year, I went to Alaska and was the broadcaster and sports information director for the Fairbanks Fire of the Alaska Baseball League. The Fire won the league title on the last day of the season! It was their first title in franchise history. However, the Fire don't have that many resources, so that was a volunteer job. After taking last summer off after a brief stint in the Cape Cod League, I am going back to Alaska this summer, except this time I'm getting paid. The man who runs the Alaska Goldpanners of Fairbanks heard my work from two years ago and recruited me back to the 49th state for another summer. The Goldpanners pay for everything and I get to work with a good friend of mine from the staff of WNUR.

Currently, I am taking TV News Producing, which is the most advanced broadcast class Medill has to offer. Guess what? We use incredibly similar cameras to the ones I used at BHS! The only difference is that these cameras are HD cameras and we don't use tapes. (We use P2 cards.) I'm already ahead in the class because I have a thorough understanding of how to use these cameras. Our first assignment in TV News Producing was to create a "sequence" of 15 shots. The basics of visual storytelling from my time in Ballard’s Video Production Program came right back to me and I completed the entire project in less than a day. I find the basics of how to make a video to be all review. What the Ballard High School video production program is offering students is excellent preparation for the broadcast classes at one of the premier universities in the country.

For those looking for a University that excels at both academics and athletics, Northwestern is the ideal place to go for school. Northwestern is the only school that boasts a top 15 US News and World Report ranking AND a top 25 football program. It's been an amazing experience so far, and the best is yet to come. I encourage all students to seriously look at NU as a possible destination for college.