Students Take On 108-Hour Film Challenge

Abel Alexander (Sr.) uses a high-tech stabilizer to frame up his shot while actor Andre Villanueva (2017 Alum) looks on.

BRONX, NY – Five days.  Four teams.  108-hours of intense planning, writing, shooting, editing and producing.  Truman students took on the challenge of the year- tasked with creating a short film within five days as part of the New Jersey High School Film Challenge.  Although Truman is not in New Jersey, the hosts at Jackson Liberty High School in Jackson, NJ invited their participation, after meeting and networking with the Truman Media Program at Student Television Network National Conventions in Orlando, FL and Los Angeles, CA.

The cast and crew of Brandonlee Eccleston’s (Sr.) competition video squad.

“I’m so happy that Jackson invited us to be a part of this intense competition,” said Mr. David Roush, Media Program Instructor.  “Competition brings out a different side in these kids – and it pushes them to be better than they even believed they could be.”

On Monday, April 16th at 8:00 a.m., all participating schools were given a prompt.  They had to create a film titled “Broken,” with a character named Jack or Jackie – and including any prop of a broken item.  The rest of the direction of the film was up to the students.  They had to upload and submit their entries no later than Friday, April 20th by 8:00 p.m.

2018 marks the second year that Truman has been a part of the contest.  Last year two teams entered films, and although neither of them won any awards, the films opened a new chapter for Truman’s Media Program.  This year, four teams entered films, spearheaded by team leaders Moses Perez (Sr.), Brandonlee Eccleston (Sr.), Alycia Rawlins (Jr.) and Abel Alexander (Sr.).  Also – this year, teams integrated members from the freshmen, sophomore, junior and senior classes – giving brand new students a taste of intense competition.

“It forced me to collaborate with other people. It made me realize how much potential I have,” said first-year media student Jose Pagan (So.).  “I’m working harder every single day for it.  I feel competitive… I know I want to win this.”

Director Abel Alexander (Sr.) sets the shot in a science lab while Tariq Arthurs (Sr.) handles the boom microphone.

“As a teacher, I sort of sit back and watch in awe,” Roush added.  “They’re learning shooting and editing techniques that even I don’t know how to do.  They’ve soared beyond what I am able to teach them and they’re now teaching themselves using online resources like Youtube.  It really boggles my mind.”

On May 24th, the four competition squads, as well as an additional 20 media students will head to Jackson, NJ for a day filled with interactive workshops, a networking lunch with schools from across New Jersey, and an awards ceremony.

Pagan summarized his group’s commitment to perfection.  “We spent two hours just trying to get one shot… to make sure it was perfect.”

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