Miner Film Festival exposes high-quality student works to the community
Event scheduled for May 11
The annual Miner Film Festival is different than any other movie-going experience, Park City High School film teacher Kyle Fish said.
“It’s a fun evening and there is a lot of audience participation, especially when people see their friends in a film,” Fish told The Park Record. “You get a lot more audible reactions than you would get in most movie theaters.”
Getting an audience reaction is one of the goals of the Miner Film Festival.
“It’s a way to present the students’ works to the community, but it’s also a way to give the artists in our film program an opportunity to show their films to a wider audience on a bigger screen,” Fish said.
This year’s festival, which will be held at 7 p.m. on Thursday, May 11, at the Eccles Center for the Performing Arts, will feature close to 15 short films that range in length from two minutes to 22 minutes.
Some of the films came out of film class assignment prompts. Others are passionate projects students made during their free time.
“There is no overarching theme,” Fish said. “It was pretty much up to them to take their interests and make films about them. They could made documentaries, narratives or experimental films.”
Many of the films have been in production for seven or eight months.
“Some (films) started as ideas back in the fall and went through the scriptwriting process during the first half of the school year and then were filmed and edited in the last part,” Fish said.
Students also had free rein with the school’s equipment.
“They could also use their own,” Fish said. “They just needed to follow some specifications for how they would be able to deliver the files to me.”
All the films were shot digitally.
“I do think there a few films that featured clips that were filmed through a smart phone, but I am not aware of films that were shot entirely on smart phone devices,” Fish said.
The Miner Film Festival accepts submissions from any Park City School District student, but the majority of the films come from high school students.
“More than 50 percent of all submissions are usually accepted,” Fish said. “There is a student panel that juries the films and gives me suggestions, and then I’m the one who makes the final decision of what films will be shown.”
The festival will also feature a panel of local film and media judges.
“I meet with them to decide on the awards we will give out,” Fish said.
Over the past eight months, Fish has seen his students face and overcome the many challenges that have to do with filmmaking.
“A lot of the students’ biggest struggles were with scheduling,” he said. “Filmmaking is a very collaborative art form and the students’ schedules with their own classes, extra-curricular activities are so busy, but they are able to pull this off.”
Fish enjoyed working with the students on their projects.
“It’s satisfying for me to guide them through the filmmaking process and give them the tools they need to take and apply in a career for the rest of their lives,” he said.
Fish also got into filmmaking as a high school student.
“It was the ability to tell the story that transcends culture and other boundaries that drew me,” he said. “Another part of what has always drawn me to filmmaking is giving a story a far-reaching voice.
“To see students pulling from their own experiences and creating impactful media that can be shared with others and become a conduit for conversation and community building is what is exciting to me.”
Fish has seen a surge in technological advances throughout the couple of years he has helmed the Miner Film Festival. And that has led to many learning opportunities for his students.
“As cameras get better and become more affordable, the quality of the image has improved tremendously, so I have to constantly remind students that just making something that looks beautiful isn’t enough,” he said. “There needs to be a story that connects with the audience members for them to care more about what they are seeing.”
Still, the quality of the Miner Film Festival submissions will surprise audiences, Fish said.
“When I first started running the festival, I was very impressed with the films,” he said “But as my students have shown me, over and over that they are capable of making some very high-quality works, I’ve come to expect high-quality films.
“I would also encourage anyone who is interested in the medium to come check out the festival.”
The Miner Film Festival will be at 7 p.m. on Thursday, May 11, at the Eccles Center for the Performing Arts, 1750 Kearns Blvd. The event will feature screenings of short films created by Park City School District students. Admission is free for students and there is a suggested donation of $10 at the door for the general public. For information, visit parkcityminers.us/hq/athletics-activities-calendar.
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Park City Film’s in-person screenings will include a string of Academy Award-nominated films.