NEW YORK CITY — It's not every day when a high-schooler can walk a red carpet and premiere a film in New York City. But for 84 finalists and their crews, the All-American Film Festival let them do just that on Friday (October 4) in Times Square's AMC theater.
It all started with Andrew Jenks, a filmmaker who has his "World of Jenks" docu-series on MTV. He decided that young directors needed an outlet to show off their work. After a call for submissions, the festival received more than 1,000 projects from all around the world, including South Korea, Japan, South Africa, Canada, as well as 40 states. Movie-heavyweights like actress Kristen Stewart, documentarian Morgan Spurlock, screenwriter Diablo Cody and "Lost" executive producer Carlton Cuse served as judges.
"I wanted to start a festival because when I was in high school, I made these home videos with my buddies and we had nowhere to play them other than my parents' basement," Jenks told MTV News. "Ten years later, I was thinking about it. There's an All-American high school basketball game, all these "all-american" high school competitions, but nothing for young filmmakers... so why not have an All-American High School Film Festival?"
During the festival, the students will see their work on the big screen, get tips from guest speakers and have a little fun with some in-house performances, including a screening of Jenks' high-school short, "Five Second Rule."
"So you're going to see my short movie, and then you're going to see theirs," Jenks said. "And you're going to see how much better yours are than mine and how unbelievable the films here are because they really are."
The categories range from documentaries to music videos to comedies. One such comedy "Dinner with the Woodburns," has Stephen Boyer pumped to show his project to other students.
"I can't wait to see it will a full crowd," Boyer said. "I haven't seen it with an audience more than like 12 people. To see it with a full crowd, I'm really excited. Hopefully there'll be a lot of laughs."
The high-schoolers are getting feedback from their judges, but Andrew has a bit of advice for them as well: stay passionate.
"I think that so long as you believe in the film that you are making and are willing to go to whatever lengths to make it happen, your options are sort of endless," Jenks said. "With a festival like this where you have people from all around the world coming, you get to see it on the big screen, which I know for me at 16-years-old to have my little home videos on like a big screen would've, I would've gone nuts."