Hylton Filmmakers Enter the VHSL High School Film Festival

The Virginia High School League is hosting its fifth high school film festival this year. This festival is meant to show the film work of high school students.  This is a brilliant opportunity for those who want to enter the film industry after high school and gain connections.

Some students currently in the TV 3 class at Hylton are participating in this festival, and all of them are making short films. Students in Hylton’s TV Production program offered their thoughts on the four-year program, the production of their films, and if they want to go into the industry right out of high school.

“I think I’m hoping to leave people on the edge of their seats, wondering what will happen next.”  – Tonayah Lanier,  Period 1.

Students entering the VHSL film festival have a choice of six types of submissions: narrative, experimental, documentary, animation, public service announcement, and commercial.


Narrative was the most common choice among the TV Productions students. It is a story done by scriptwriting and original ideas, it usually contains a story, a character(s) with story or arks throughout and filmed in the production studio or in some places outside the school. Most of them were shot with Canon digital cameras provided by the school. Narratives have to be no less than five minutes long and no more than eight minutes long.

This was in response to me asking Angel Wood and Lanier what the goal of their film was. This is a brief synopsis of their short film. “A girl who has sleep paralysis, she hides it from her friends and family. This is about how this affects not only her life but the people around her.”

“I guess it is more so bringing up something that isn’t really talked about much. It is bringing awareness  In a way people will be like ‘Wow, I didn’t know you could do that.'” – Wood,  Period 1.


This is typically done through experimenting on original ideas, camerawork, lighting, and editing. While most of the process is done in post-production, pre-production like scriptwriting, acting, and creative choices are very vital and important.  Experimental films were chosen by the students who have the vision to stun the audience and to choose to set an atmosphere of over-emotional feelings. Experimental films have to be at least three minutes and no longer than eight minutes.

” I am hoping people to get a weird reaction out of it, like saying ‘Wow, I didn’t expect that to happen.’ I hope this because there is a plot twist at the end. I hope it will be kind of cool.” – Josiah Germaine, Period 7.

Germaine chose experimental because of this, he wants to show his more creative side and wants to shock the audience. He plans to do use color, lighting, and camera work to give the immersion of his film.

“My goal is to have something that stands out, not to be another generic story. I want people to say ‘Wow, that’s cool.’ I want it to be grand and catch everyone by surprise.”


A document of a real-life subject, topic, or group. These do require some scriptwriting from the directors behind the project, for either voice overs or text on the screen. Most of the footage is through interviews with people who were affected or related to the subject touched on screen. Documentaries have to be at least five minutes and no longer than eight minutes in length.

“Our topic is something that really no one talks about. Hopefully it will bring attention on how black women are mistreated. Documentaries shows a lot of emotion, which makes this the best category for our topic.” -Kyah Williams, Period 1.


Done through computer animation, stop-motion, or hand drawings, animation is a story told more visually through the artistic styles of the director. It is able to show a very different kind of fiction and gives creative choices for the scriptwriters and directors to show their vision in a more creative and original way. They will have voice actors. Animated shorts must be at least two minutes and no longer than five minutes in length.

“A lot of my time with film and animation projects, I tend to get very inspired. I want to create something that feels like how those films made me feel. I also want to inspire others who are wanting to get into animating, saying ‘Oh, this eighteen-year-old boy can do that, so can I.’ – Angel Osorio, Period 7

Osorio’s film is titled “Lucha”  It’s about a man whose wife has fallen ill, he wants to cure her. The medicine he needs is in a flower, in order to get this flower, he has to compete in a tournament.

Public Service Announcement

PSA’s are meant to inform the public about an important event, news, important subjects to be touched or to give an emergency announcement. PSA’s were done by quite a few students, with many of them having footage recorded by the students, even though most of the work is done in post. Some PSA’s have actors or voice overs. Some PSAs are shown visually or just through text with sound. PSA’s must at least be thirty seconds and no longer than one minute.

“I just hope it can show people who need help to get the help that they need. I hope people can see the message, and if they have a friend or a family member effected by this, that they are encouraged to help or call the number.” – Alex Grishkoff, Period 7


This is meant to advertise a fictional product of the student’s choosing (They were not allowed to do a commercial on a real product). Some commercials are meant to simply inform the viewer on what the product is and how to use it, and some are meant to entertain the viewer, make them laugh, or find it enjoyable to watch, going as far as giving a mini-skit or comedy bits to the commercial, while still advertising the fictional product. Commercials must at least be thirty seconds and no longer than one minute.

” Our goal is to entertain people, and try to convince them to buy our ‘fake’ product.” – Alania Riveria, Period 7

“I hope people will be entertained and really enjoy our commercial.” – Eric Francois, Period 7

“The purpose is strictly for entertainment. We hope people enjoy it and give their thoughts on our fake product.” – Francois

Film Student’s Bright Future

Wood is interested to be a screenwriter and director, claiming she loves being behind the camera. Her goal in the industry is to give immersion and an original narrative. Germaine expressed interest in a film editing career, while Osorio aspires to become a writer and director in animation.

In the meantime, their focus is the VHSL film festival, which will take place on June 4, 2022. From each school’s submission, two will be shown at the festival. In each category, there will be the best film award and an audience choice award.