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LA Film Festival Thu 6.1.2017

Meet the Future Filmmakers: Auteur Teens Take Their Shorts to The 2017 LA Film Festival

With the 2017 LA Film Festival looming perilously close (June 14-22!) so too does our annual Future Filmmakers Showcase—a special screening of short films made by talented high school students from around the world.

This year’s programming collects a unique pallet of young voices and highlights their originality; voices we feel are indicative of the next generation of filmmakers. The screening takes place at ArcLight Culver City Saturday, June 17 and will consist of 15 films. These shorts push boundaries and are refreshingly honest in their global outlook, ranging from documentaries that transport the viewer into the platforms boots of a teenage drag queen living in Orange County to a futuristic narrative about virtual reality’s effect on dating and human interaction—just a taste of the diverse and thoughtful storytelling these young filmmakers have in store.

We wanted to know what drove these budding auteurs to create and where they found their inspiration. So we asked. Here’s what these Millennial Moviemakers had to say:


‘Confessions of a Teenage Drag Queen’

What inspired you to start making films at such a young age?

I grew up without TV or computers. All I had to entertain myself was my imagination and the stories I made up for my toys. (Azure Allen, From Dogs to Wolves)

My 5th grade teacher Mr. Wright inspired me to start making movies because of his infectious love for film. He would make a movie with our class every year over the last two weeks of school. (Oliver Marsden, BaconHorn)

From a very young age, I found that I had a love of film from watching Tim Burton films. His quirkiness, the way he created his own worlds inspired me. I aspired to bring stories to life and immerse people into the worlds I would create through my work. (Erika Kroll, Confessions of a Teenage Drag Queen)

My mom forced me to go a film camp in 6th grade, and the rest was history. (Emma Siegel, When Was The Last Time You Washed Your Face)

I started with photography when my Dad got the first iPhone. As my interest in photography flourished, my parents bought me a small camera that also had a video capability. I realized I could combine my love for stories and visual art into one medium. (Chester Milton, Moonage Day Dream and Squeal)

My mom is an artist and my dad ran an animation studio. I guess you could say that it’s in my blood. (Freddy MacDonald, Gifted (Thanksgiving Post Mortem)) 

When I was in elementary school, my cousin Cindy had just gotten PhotoBooth on her MacBook. We started out making short, random videos and she posted them on Facebook. Reading all the positive comments from her friends inspired me to start writing short scripts to put into production with Cindy, my sister and our friends. (Rae Kanoa, Saudade)


If you could make a film anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?

India. The colors, the history, the beauty—it’s actually the backdrop for the animation I’m currently working on. (Azure Allen, From Dogs to Wolves)

I would love to make a documentary if I ever have the chance to go to Vietnam, my parents’ motherland. They escaped from war there and have never been back since. The documentary I’d like to make would be a film about what it means when the place you once knew so fondly is no longer home anymore. (Carol Ngyuen, Façade)

Anywhere that’s more rural, maybe the countryside of South Korea. It’s a really beautiful place. And what can be done in the city and suburbs is limited, in my experience. (Emma Siegel, When Was The Last Time You Washed Your Face)

I’d like to make a film in New York. Not necessarily a documentary, but something along the lines of a pseudo-realistic film using real people being their genuine selves. I believe New York City, being a boiling pot of culture, would serve that. (Erika Kroll, Confessions of a Teenage Drag Queen)

I would go to Greece. There’s so much to film there, from the fishing boats to the colorful houses in Santorini to just the real-world stories of the people that live there! (Rae Kanoa, Saudade)


What’s the best film you’ve seen so far this year?

Moonlight is my favorite film for 2017. I loved seeing the three phases of Chiron’s life play out. (Freddy Macdonald, Gifted (Thanksgiving Post Mortem))

Kubo and the Two Strings was incredible! (Azure Allen, From Dogs to Wolves)

At Sundance I saw a film that hasn’t been released yet called A Ghost Story directed by David Patrick Lowery. Absolutely breathtaking. (Chester Milton, Moonage Day Dream and Squeal)

This year through one of my film classes, I had the opportunity to watch In The Mood For Love on the big screen. Wong Kar-Wai’s film is captivating on so many levels. (Carol Ngyuen, Façade)

To be completely honest, I didn’t see The Godfather until January. I’m so glad I did. It’s definitely in my top three favorite movies of all time. Also, I know it’s stereotypical but La La Land was phenomenal. I was sobbing for hours after the ending, ha ha. (Rae Kanoa, Saudade)

I think Moonlight was one of the most brilliant films I’ve seen, not only this year but in general—from its subtle yet powerful portrayals of its characters to its stunning cinematography. (Erika Kroll, Confessions of a Teenage Drag Queen)

Get Out because of its originality and execution! (Oliver Marsden, BaconHorn)


What is your favorite part of the filmmaking process and why?

I like the process of world building. I feel like the world of the film is a character itself and creates context for the characters. (Azure Allen, From Dogs to Wolves) 

My favorite part is editing, because I can take as much time with it as I please and there’s no one to rely on. (Oliver Marsden, BaconHorn)

Seeing the finished product; from conceiving the idea, to writing it down, to actually shooting it and then fine tuning it, seeing the film come into fruition is one of the most satisfying feelings in the world. (Erika Kroll, Confessions of a Teenage Drag Queen)

For me, the whole point of making films is to connect with an audience. So my favorite part is watching an audience’s reaction to my work. (Emma Siegel, When Was The Last Time You Washed Your Face)

Editing reminds me that you can give everyone the same story, but each person will tell it differently. It’s the part where you get to witness how someone’s mind works—through images, sound, rhythm, color, pacing… (Carol Ngyuen, Façade)

I love shooting. The energy on the set is oddly similar to surfing! (Freddy MacDonald, Gifted (Thanksgiving Post Mortem))

Whether I’m directing, DP-ing or even just being an extra, just being involved on a set never fails to exhilarate me. Seeing the actors, filmmakers, makeup artists, interns, etc. all coming together in this hectic, fast-paced setting makes my passion grow even stronger. (Rae Kanoa, Saudade)

‘Gifted (Thanksgiving Post Mortem)’

What’s the most important thing you want to communicate to an audience after they’ve just watched one of your films?

That art really is all around, in everything. The world we live in is the best muse. I’d like to show that in my work—that there’s a story and art in everything. (Erika Kroll, Confessions of a Teenage Drag Queen)

For each film it’s different, but with my current film I want to give hope to people and let them know they aren’t alone. (Azure Allen, From Dogs to Wolves)

I would hope they just enjoy the movie and take a few laughs and a good time out of it. (Oliver Marsden, BaconHorn)

I want my audience to be moved and perhaps think about their own lives in a different way. (Freddy Macdonald, Gifted (Thanksgiving Post Mortem))

I’d like people to know that whatever they take away from my film or interpretive it as is just as valid as my original reason for creating it. (Emma Siegel, When Was The Last Time You Washed Your Face)

The beauty of film is that it is so subjective. So whether you love it or hate it, as long as it makes you think or spark an idea, that makes me happiest. (Chester Milton, Moonage Day Dream and Squeal)

Think about the symbols! Why are these props in the room and what does it say? Why does the camera move and what does it mean? I would love to tell my audience that my story is more than its plot. (Carol Ngyuen, Façade)

I want people to realize that there’s so many ways to convey a story without having to even use dialogue or having a script. It’s important to challenge the guidelines of what a film is. Challenge yourself to stray away from “normal” narratives. It’s the only way you can grow as a filmmaker, and as a person. (Rae Kanoa, Saudade)

The Future Filmmakers Showcase is invitation only. To buy tickets and passes for other screenings and events, visit tickets.lafilmfestival.com.

Future Filmmakers Showcase is supported by Time Warner Foundation, Lisa Argyros/Argyros Family Foundation, and Jason Delane Lee and Yvonne Huff Lee | Lagralane Group


I Know You Know Directed by Brian Niles, Riley Street, Natalia Ferrara
From Dogs to Wolves Directed by Azure Allen
A Witches Tail Directed by Chelsea Eisen
Finding Me Directed by Katie Ann O’Keefe & Kaila Sahagun
Gifted (Thanksgiving Post Mortem) Directed by Freddy Macdonald
Virtual Reality: A Tech Uprising Directed by Terrance Leschinger
Set Free Directed by Jeremy Herron and Dean Russell
Squeal Directed by Chester Milton
When Was The Last Time You Washed Your Face Directed by Emma Siegel
Facade Directed by Carole Ngyuen
Moonage Day Dream Directed by Chester Milton
Confessions of a Teenage Drag Queen Directed by Erika Kroll
Saudade Directed by Rae Kanoa
BaconHorn Directed by Oliver Marsden
Daizy Head Mayzie Directed by Chelsea Eisen

The 2017 LA Film Festival takes place June 14-22, headquartered at the ArcLight Cinemas Culver City, with additional screenings at ArcLight Hollywood, ArcLight Santa Monica and more. Stay tuned to Film Independent’s TwitterFacebook and Instagram for the latest new additions and updates. And don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel for more exciting announcements.

Tickets and passes are on sale now. Sold out screenings? Get in with a Festival pass. In addition to screenings and special events (even when sold out) Festival passes provide entry to our super-fun Festival Lounge, featuring a 21+ hosted bar and the opportunity to rub shoulders with Festival filmmakers and other film industry professionals. Buy yours today. Film Independent Members save up to 25%.

(Header: From Dogs to Wolves)

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