I started this post a looooong time ago. Then I got lazy and it got put on the back burner. So let’s pretend that it’s sometime in the beginning of October 2013. Now that we have that all sorted out, enjoy the blog!
“It doesn’t get any more awkward than being 26 at a high school film festival”. That’s what was going through my head as I stepped off the elevator last Friday afternoon. Sometimes I forget how long it’s been since I’ve been a high school student. On really bad days, I think I’m still one of them. Looking around the room, the cold splash of water hit me hard. I’m not one of them. I haven’t been one of them in about ten years. Oy.
The All American High School Film Festival is exactly what it sounds like. A film festival showcasing films from high school students all across the country. It was founded by Andrew Jenks from MTV. You know Jenks, as in World of. He felt that high school students had a voice that deserved to be heard. And he was right.
When I was in high school, we were broken up into houses. Sort of like majoring in college, you chose which house you would like to be in and your choice of house dictated what classes you took towards your diploma. I chose to be in the Media Arts house. I don’t remember every class I took or every field trip I went on, but I could tell you this, an opportunity like this never came up for myself or my classmates. I’m glad now that there is an option to be a part of something so great.
Going to this festival was not my idea. My friend Lisa had decided that she wanted to go and that I should go with her. She had become a fan of Jenks when she started to watch his show and then eventually look into his other projects. We were both really impressed impressed with his first documentary, “Andrew Jenks: Room 336”, and decided that if he was supporting these students, they must be on to something. We decided to really play up the experience and take some pictures on the red carpet. Because we’re really cool.
As I was taking in the scenes and waiting for things to get underway, Lisa and I walked around the room listening to all the buzz.
“Jenks is a wonderful person for starting something like this”
“He’s such a humanitarian.”
“This is great!”
After a little while we found a bench to sit on and wait for the next thing to happen. I looked up and saw Jenks walking through the lobby. He walked in like he wasn’t the one to pull this whole thing off. Like he didn’t take his small idea and blow it up to what it turned out to be. He had a humbleness to him as he shook hands, took pictures, and kissed babies. I really don’t mean to gush, but it’s the truth. Also, he is really good looking in person – just saying. He made it to the red carpet and started his interviews with MTV and a few other media outlets (it’s been a while so I really have no idea who else interviewed him).While we were waiting for him to finish up with his interviews we starting talking with a woman who was there with her husband and two kids. They came down from Albany to just attend the festival and possibly meet Jenks. Lisa mentioned that she had met Jenks before at a book signing earlier in the year and hoped to speak to him again. The woman encouraged her to speak to him. She told her that you’re only young once and you may not get the chance to be in a situation like this again. Not needing much persuasion, when the opportunity arose, Lisa grabbed it and made sure she let Jenks know how much his past work has affected her. Lisa is a teacher, working with children in the special needs population. She loved that Chad was featured so prominently on World of Jenks. He was very welcoming and did not come off as rushed at all. Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end and it was time for him to go into the theater to, I assume, tie up any loose ends before the screenings got underway.
We lined up, sandwiched between groups of students from all over the country. The excitement was buzzing all around the room. Finally, the doors opened and the line started to file in. My friend and I got seats up in the front; those seats that nobody wants in a regular movie. Finally, Jenks came to the podium to open the festival. I was amazed to see all of the opportunities offered to kids these days. Oh God. When did I turn 90? Anyway, seeing what is out there today made me almost wish I was back in high school. Almost.
The last film of the day was an advanced screening of Romeo and Juliet. The one with Ed Westwick as Tybalt. Woof. I love me some Ed Westwick. We hadn’t planned on staying for the whole premiere so about 20 minutes in, we decided to leave. Which turned out to be much easier than it sounded at the time. The girl next to me had her popcorn on the floor, which turned out to not be the smartest idea. Hopefully she didn’t want anymore because by the time I got my foot out of the bag and totally disrupted the whole row, there wasn’t much popcorn left. Also, I may or may not have stepped on Jeff Van Gundy’s foot.
Mr. Van Gundy, if you’re reading this please accept my sincere apology.
All in all, it was cool to experience an event like this. The cherry on top of the sundae though? Having Andrew Jenks like my little collage on Instagram. Don’t be too jealous.