Local Students Stand Out at Film Festival


Thirteen students in the Laguna Beach Unified School District recently took top honors at the fifth annual My Hero Short Film Festival. “Laguna Beach is well represented in this year’s international celebration of heroes,” said Wendy Milette, My Hero’s director of media arts education and film festival.

In the high school division, first place went to John Barrett, Austin Dodge, and Aaron Fong for “Have a Home Run Day,” about hometown hero Skipper Carrillo; second place went to Jason Li, Jordan Glenn, Sterling Phillips, and Tad Heitmann for “The Man Behind the Curtains” about theater department leader Mark Dressker; third place went to Nicholas LaBarbera for “Capootnutz”; and Jack Pillsbury, George Sadler, Mention Derek Reigel, and Remington Zona received honorable mention for “Saviors of the Sea.”

In the middle school division, Kenyon Ford and Haley Castuera received honorable mention for “Laguna Beach Animal Shelter.”

Laguna Beach High School teacher Pam MacKay, who made the project possible at the high school by applying for a SchoolPower teacher grant, said she was “extremely proud of all the students who entered the contest” and “just ecstatic” with the accomplishments of the prize winners. As part of last year’s program, students enrolled in MacKay’s video production class and Kerry Pellow’s digital art class received mentoring from script to screen.

Honorable-mention recipients Kenyon Ford and Haley Castuera were among Thurston Middle School students enrolled in teacher Andy Crisp’s video production class. “I couldn’t be happier for them as budding filmmakers and was very proud of this film,” said Crisp. “It was shot and edited beautifully, but most importantly, Haley and Kenyon told a great story. It is so rewarding for me as a teacher to see my students receive recognition for their incredible work.”

Five of the films, “Have A Home Run Day,” “The Man Behind the Curtains,” “Capootnutz,” “Saviors of the Sea,” and last year’s “The American Dream: Michael Chegini” (Shawn Chegini, Donavon Tetsuka, Hunter Hammond) were a part of the My Hero broadcast on KOCE-OC in December.

My Hero is a nonprofit project that shares inspirational short films, stories, and art on an online multimedia journal and digital library.


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