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Apodaca: Nurturing budding filmmakers

April 13, 2013|By Patrice Apodaca

It was a little slice of Cannes in Newport Beach.

Girls in impossibly short dresses and stratospherically high heels posed for pictures on the red carpet next to boys self-consciously styled in everything from hipster black suit and shades to skate chic. They munched on canapés and crudités, chatted excitedly and tried to ignore the gale-force Santa Ana winds that threatened to topple the strategically placed potted palms.

This was the scene as the crowd gathered for the first-ever Newport Mesa Film Festival, where finalists in design, photography, animation and film were about to learn who among them would receive the top prizes in their categories. They'd been culled from entries produced by students enrolled in various digital media arts classes offered at four Newport-Mesa high schools under the auspices of the district's Career Technical Education program and Coastline ROP.

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The awards show, the brainchild of Newport Harbor High School film teacher Lisa Cermak, was held Monday evening at the school's Loats Auditorium.

I'll admit right here that I'd thought about skipping it. I'd had a bad case of the Monday blahs after a busy weekend, and the NCAA men's championship basketball game was on TV. Though I intended at some point to write about the media studies classes as part of a recurring series on CTE, the thought of rousting myself to venture out on a blustery night was a bit off-putting.

What's more, the Daily Pilot had already published a fine story highlighting one of the student award finalists, "Undead Hunger," a wry and clever film about a boy who battles zombies during a quest to score a bag of Cheetos.

But Cermak convinced me there was much more to see at the awards show. I'm glad she did because frankly the event was a hoot.

The best thing about it was that, despite the involvement of teachers and administrators, this was the kids' show all the way. Students hosted the event, presented the awards and manned the technical crew. Some even helped Cermak construct giant Oscar-like sculptures to decorate the stage.

Teens from another CTE program, Newport Harbor's culinary arts courses, cooked and served the bite-size appetizers and desserts distributed before the show and during intermission. They'd begun the prep work the previous week, and many had been on their feet nonstop since 11 that morning. (Whoever made those puff pastry-goat cheese things, my taste buds thank you.)

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