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 .

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.   

Friday, November 03, 2017

Ballard’s Documentary for IMAX Gets a Big Screen Premiere

On the Backs of Salmon, a short documentary produced for IMAX and the United Nations Environment by students in Ballard High School’s Digital Filmmaking Program, will have its big screen premiere at Seattle’s Pacific Science Center IMAX on Thursday, November 9th at 6 pm.  The short will be followed by Q & A with the filmmakers.  It will be shown at a members-only screening of the new 3D nature documentary, Amazon Adventure, but IMAX has reserved 75 seats for the Ballard filmmakers and their entourage.

The project is the result of the IMAX “In Focus” program.  In partnership with the United Nations Environment, IMAX consulted with the All American High School Film Festival to select 5 “exemplary” filmmaking programs from across the US to address the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals #13-15: Climate Action, Life Below Water, and Life on Land.  Each participating program received a $5,000 grant.  The goal was to encourage students interested in filmmaking to use their talents to develop films that promote change.  

On the Backs of Salmon tells the encouraging story behind the largest dam removal in world history - the Elwha on the Olympic Peninsula.  The students were inspired by this story because it shows the power of people to change things, and the power of nature to bounce back.  It premiered online last spring during the UN's World Environment Day, and was screened this fall at the All American High School Film Festival in New York City.

Wednesday, November 01, 2017


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

The winning films include a documentary, an animation piece, and a short comedy.  The documentary 9066, by Maya Konz, Bailey Wall, Kajsa Woolford, and Nolan Baker, tells the story of the internment of US citizens of Japanese ancestry during WWII.  The film has already won numerous awards, including First Prize at the Dominique Dunne Film Competition, best Long Form Non-Fiction in the student division at the Northwest Emmy Awards, and an Award of Excellence in Documentary at the Northwest High School Film Festival

In the short comedy, Richard (by Wylie Soltes, Ian Colbeck, Ethan Hawthorne-Dallas, and Aaron Mamaril) a stolen tool kit creates a bond between two strangers with little in common.  Richard premiered at the AllAmerican High School Film Festival in New York City last month.  Also among the winners is the short Tidal Cruiser, produced independently by Ballard film student Brendan Hickey. 

A jury of filmmakers and educators screened over one hundred entries from across the five state region to select winners for the festival.  The winners will be screened at the Portland Art Museum’s Whitsell Auditorium this Saturday, November 4 at 11 am.  Admission is free and the public is welcome to attend.

Ballard film students also received an Honorable Mention for their experimental short City 'Scape by Brendan Hickey, Jonathan Bowers and Gracie Morris. 

Thursday, October 19, 2017


Ballard’s Majestic Bay Theatre will screen Coraline on Saturday, October 28 at 9:30 am. Tickets are $10 each.  Proceeds will benefit students in the Digital Filmmaking Program at Ballard High School. 

If you live in Ballard, chances are you frequent the Majestic Bay Theatres.  And if you’ve seen a film at the Bay, chances are you’ve seen A Trip to the Groovies, the policy trailer produced by students in the Ballard High School Digital Filmmaking Program. 

For years, the Majestic Bay showed A Trip to the Movies to inform audiences of theater rules and etiquette.  A mock instructional film set in what appears to be 1960, the trailer follows two children, Russ and Ellen, as they navigate the process of movie-going.  When the Bay went digital in 2014, they needed a policy trailer in a digital format.  Rather than purchasing a ready-made trailer, the Bay invited the Digital Filmmaking Program at BHS to produce one.  The film students were thrilled!  After considering various ideas, Ballard’s filmmakers decided to follow Russ and Ellen to the movies again – this time in 1977.  The challenging concept required period vehicles, costumes, hair, make-up, and actors who might possibly be the original Russ and Ellen - seventeen years later.

The Majestic Bay was so pleased with the new trailer that they made an immediate donation and also pledged to host an annual fundraiser for the Digital Filmmaking Program.  The screening of Coraline on October 28 is the third annual event, and will be preceded by A Trip to the Groovies.  So that future audiences will continue to appreciate the parody elements in the new trailer, the Bay also had the former trailer digitized to show from time to time.

Ballard's Digital Filmmaking Program provides state-of-the-art equipment and professional experiences for students, and has a well-established record of preparing students for college and careers in media-related fields.  It is funded largely by support from the Ballard community, thanks to partners such as The Majestic Bay.

Monday, October 09, 2017


When the envelopes were opened at Emerson College in Los Angeles on Oct. 3, the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (NATAS) announced Comeback, a dramatic short by Skala Leake, Aaron Miller, Cameron Miller and Avery Davis, as winner of a National Student Production Award for best Audio/Sound.  In addition to working with the audio recording and mixing, Avery Davis composed an original score for the film. 

This is the second year NATAS has given student awards at the national level, and the second year Ballard film students have been among the winners.  A minority of regional winners from 19 NATAS chapters across the country are nominated at the national level.  Comeback was also nominated for best Writer and best Short Form Fiction film.  Another film by Ballard students, 9066 (by Maya Konz, Bailey Wall, Kajsa Woolford and Nolan Baker) was nominated for best Long Form Non-Fiction film.  The films were judged by members of the Academy, as well as college media professors.  Both films can be viewed on the Digital Filmmaking Program’s vimeo page at .

For more information, and to screen the national awards presentation, visit .

All of Ballard’s honored productions had their premiere at the Ballard Film Festival (BFF).  The next BFF will be on Saturday, February 10 at 7 pm in the BHS auditorium.  Tickets are $5 for students and $10 for adults, and will be sold at the door.

Thursday, September 28, 2017


The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (NATAS) has nominated students in Ballard High School’s Digital Filmmaking Program for four National Student Production Awards.  NATAS industry professionals and university professors selected the nominees from 1,500 entries produced by students throughout the nation.       

Nominated for best Long Form Non-Fiction is 9066, a documentary about the internment of US citizens of Japanese ancestry during WWII by Maya Konz, Bailey Wall, Kajsa Woolford and Nolan Baker.  Nominated for best Short-Form Fiction, best Writer, and best Audio/Sound is Comeback by Skala Leake, Aaron Miller, Cameron Miller & Avery Davis.  Comeback is a story of a soccer player coping with a life-altering setback.  The nominated productions can be viewed online at 

The awards presentation will be live-streamed from the Los Angeles campus of Emerson College on Tuesday, October 3rd at noon, and will be hosted by television personality Tom Bergeron, star and host of AVC’s Dancing with the Stars.  You can view the presentation at

The Northwest Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (NATAS) has presented High School Awards of Excellence for years to celebrate and promote the most outstanding high school television productions from Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana and Alaska.  The Academy created a national level for these awards just last year, and Ballard filmmakers won best Music Video and best Photographer/Editor.  This year, the four nominations place Ballard in the lead among national nominees from the Northwest Chapter.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017


Eight films by twenty-seven students in the Ballard High School Digital Filmmaking Program will screen this fall at the All American High School Film Festival (AAHSFF).  This competitive festival receives entries from high school filmmakers throughout the country as well as other nations.  The event runs October 6 - 8 in New York City at the Center for Social Innovation, AMC Theatres Times Square, and the historic Kings Theater. 

Prestigious judges such as screenwriter Diablo Cody, documentary filmmaker Morgan Spurlock, and actors Kristen Stewart and Dylan McDermott evaluated the films.  Official Selections are eligible for prizes presented at the Teen Indie Awards at the conclusion of the festival.

In addition to the Official Selections, a short documentary that Ballard film students produced for IMAX and the United Nations will also screen at the festival.  Only five high school filmmaking programs in the nation were chosen by IMAX and the AAHSFF to create these projects.  Ballard was selected due to the quality work BHS film students have brought to the AAHSFF on a regular basis.  (Ballard films have been finalists for top awards such as Best PSA, Best Documentary, Best Directing, Best Screenplay, Best Drama and Best Overall Film.)  The documentary is titled On the Backs of Salmon and was produced for IMAX by Chris Barrett, Martin Bolivar Caroline Harader, Jasper Land, Maddie Lausted, Freeman Marshall, Aaron Miller, Cecilia O’Rollins, & Miles Whitworth.     

Here, by category, are the Official Selections by Ballard High School’s Digital Filmmaking students.

Fat Friday by Chris Barrett, Jessica Luecke & Zoe Zillig

Heart of Gold by Miles Andersen, Willow Hudson, Josh Gaynor-Cote & Jesse Romero

Transformative by Mo Brown, Claire Elliott, Krystelle Kurz & Sorcha Maron

Clover Four Confidence by Annabelle Bowman-Mohn, Josh Gaynor-Cote & Brynn Miller

Frozen in Debt by Annabelle Bowman-Mohn, Bergen Johnson, Cecilia O’Rollins & Miles Whitworth

Horror/Sci Fi/Fantasy
Richard by Ian Colbeck, Ethan Hawthorne-Dallas, Aaron Mamaril & Wylie Soltes

One film produced independently by BHS film students also made the festival:  Solo by Elliott Atkinson and Zach Boone is an Official Selection in the Horror/Sci Fi/Fantasy category.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

IMAX and UN Environment Release Documentary by BHS Film Students

On the Backs of Salmon, one of two documentaries produced by students in Ballard High School’s Digital Filmmaking Program for IMAX, premiered June 5 on IMAX’s and UN Environment’s websites.  The premiere was timed to coincide with the United Nations’ World Environment Day – the largest annual event for global actions to protect the environment.  “We are so proud of the work created by these budding filmmakers, which shines a light on important environmental issues as well as their own creative abilities,” said IMAX CEO Rich Gelfond. 

The project is the result of a partnership between IMAX In Focus (a component of IMAX Big Picture, their social responsibility effort) and United Nations’ Environment.  Ballard’s DFP was one of only five “exemplary” high school film programs across the nation chosen by IMAX and the All American High School Film Festival (AAHSFF) in New York City to produce environmental documentaries.  “We identified programs that… consistently submitted quality work,” said Tom Oliva, AAHSFF Executive Director.   IMAX awarded $5,000 to each program.  “The In Focus program aligns seamlessly with what we strive to achieve” Oliva said, “cultivating young filmmakers and recognizing their talented work."  

“The release of these documentaries on World Environment Day is a fitting testament to the importance of empowering our youth to use their voices to drive change for a better tomorrow,” said UN Environment Chief Erik Solheim.  “We support IMAX’s commitment to helping young filmmakers share these stories with a larger audience, hopefully resulting in changes that create a healthier environment.”