Monday, March 26, 2012


During his last few years in the Ballard High School Video Production Program, senior Louis Weissman has had aspirations of working behind the camera on a Hollywood feature film. His goal seemed nearer recently when he was accepted to the prestigious film production program at Emerson College in Boston. Then last week, he landed a job in the camera department for a feature film shooting in Los Angeles this spring.

Weissman was one of eighteen BHS video students to tour the Los Angeles film schools and industry on a field trip in 2010. Upon his return, he co-founded 243 Productions with four classmates. Their company has created productions for a variety of clients.

Weissman also excelled on productions in class. His first visual story, Mr. Clean, was an Official Selection of the National Film Festival for Talented Youth (NFFTY) in 2011. His follow-up effort, the digital film Safe at Last, was a Winner at the regional Young People’s Film Festival and will be featured at NFFTY next month. He’s had internships at NFFTY during the school year and in Los Angeles last summer.

The big break came as a result of his LA internship. “The Associate Producer, Colin Ebeling, was on set helping out, and I was camera assisting: changing lenses and things. He complimented me on my hustle and knowledge and said he’d like to work with me again in the future.” Weissman thought nothing more about the conversation until the end of January, when Ebeling tracked him down about a camera crew position. “It was unreal,” says Weissman. “I ran downstairs to tell my dad so quickly I lost a slipper on the way.”

The feature, titled Bounty Killer, is set in a future society after years of global corporate rule and collapse. It concerns a specially trained assassin on a mission to cleanse the post-apocalyptic world of corrupt CEOs – in short, just the kind of movie a teenage boy might enjoy working on. But what really got Weissman’s attention was the technology. “They asked ‘Are you familiar with the Arri Alexa?’ This is the digital camera that’s rivaling film – the same one used to shoot Drive and Game of Thrones. I’d give my right arm to work with that camera. Well, my left arm, because I’d need my right to operate it.”

Weissman has already earned sufficient credits to graduate from high school and plans to take his diploma early in order to join the crew in Los Angeles for shooting this April and May. He has no intention of putting film school on hold, however. “The job I’ll be working next month doesn’t require a college degree, but once I get on that career ladder, I’d like to move up and eventually become a cinematographer some day. Without a college degree, I’d hit a ceiling that I couldn’t move beyond. You can learn things on the set you might never learn in college, but the reverse is true, too. During the hustle and bustle of production, you don’t have time to familiarize yourself with art history or ponder what lighting strategy best complements the art design.”

Saturday, March 03, 2012


Six short films by students in the Ballard High School Video Production Program have been named Official Selections of the National Film Festival for Talented Youth (NFFTY). This competitive festival showcases outstanding work by filmmakers age 22 and younger. NFFTY is a rare opportunity for high school students to share the spotlight with college students from our nation’s best film schools. This year, NFFTY received nearly 700 entries from 40 states and 22 countries. NFFTY opens at the Seattle Cinerama Theater on Thursday, April 26 and continues through Sunday, April 29 at the Seattle Center.

Official Selections for NFFTY are determined by a jury of professional filmmakers. These short films by Ballard High School video students have been selected for screening.

Cogs by Brendan Inkley, Nadia Komen & Cybele Olsen

English Pocket Mirror by John Hall, Sydney Jarol & Dylan Miller

Lost & Found by Brianna Kadem, Peter Lee & Bryan Quandt

The Number by Alex Guettler, Ana Krafchick & Helen Miller

Roll Play by Lily Bennett, Enjuli Chhaniara & Dayan Flynn-Walsh

Safe at Last: The Story of Antwaan Dixon by Nate Sawtell, Dylan Spence & Louis Weissman

An additional honor has been bestowed on Lost & Found. It will be screened on the prestigious Closing Night program. Both Lost & Found and The Number are the first short films by students in their initial year of the BHS Video Production Program.

Immediately following the Closing Night screening, Jury Prizes and Audience Awards will be announced. In addition to screenings and awards, NFFTY includes forums on filmmaking. For a complete schedule of events (including this year’s Future of Film Expo), show times, and ticket information, visit

NFFTY itself is the brainchild of Ballard High School video alumnus Jesse Harris (’04). Harris made history in 2004 when Living Life, the feature film he had written and directed as a senior project, was purchased by FilmMates and given a theatrical release. (It opened in Seattle in April, 2005.) The festival was co-founded by Harris, Kyle Seago (’07) – also a Ballard High School Video alumnus - and Jocelyn RC (Bellevue High School, ’07). A growing list of sponsors and partners, such as Bing, Volvo, Xbox 360, Expedia, and Vitaminwater have paved the way for this sixth annual event.