Burbank High Students Recognized For Award-Winning Short Film

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The Production Team of 'Being' Burbank High Students with their 1st place award during the BIFF Awards Ceremonies. (Photo by Ross A. Benson).

At the awards ceremony of the Burbank International Film Festival (BIFF), several Burbank High School (BHS) students received the Los Angeles County Student Filmmakers Award for their short film “Being.” (6:43.) It had premiered at Burbank’s AMC 6 Theater at BIFF two weeks ago, and can now be viewed at vimeo.com/66219734.

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The Production Team of 'Being' Burbank High Students with their 1st place award during the BIFF Awards Ceremonies. (Photo by Ross A. Benson).
The Production Team of ‘Being’ Burbank High Students with their 1st place award during the BIFF Awards Ceremonies. (Photo by Ross A. Benson).

“Being” is a charming story that I could picture as an engaging sequence in a larger film about teen angst, the kind of movie you might enjoy on a Sunday afternoon at Laemmle in Pasadena. Teenage Fiona (ALI PATERSON) is becoming aware of herself as a separate person, a realization forced upon her even in her dreams. Her dream friend Alex (ALEX de BLANC) has left the park, but leaving behind his guitar. She takes solitary walks through a real-world park, ponders by a pond.

“I think I like music and the color blue, and I hate the way the happy birthday song is never in tune,” Fiona muses to herself in very effective voice over.

Out of such seemingly small details about one’s preferences emerges a maturing personality ready to engage companions that can resonate with her in the real world.  “Being” is a surprisingly sophisticated film, very simply told.

'Being' Director Jessie Butera gives acceptance speech during awards presentation at BIFF Awards. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)
‘Being’ Director Jessie Butera gives acceptance speech during awards presentation at BIFF Awards. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

“The idea for the film kind of just happened,” said BHS senior (now) JESSIE BUTERA, who directed the film. She was at a coffee shop with a friend, one moment doing homework and the next, “writing down the monologue.” And then she wrote the lyrics to the film’s songs, “Being” and “Finding Me.” ALI PATERSON (Fiona) also wrote the music. SAHARA FISHER and Ali Paterson sang the songs. The song and score were pitch perfect for the film’s tone.

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“Being” took six days to film over a two-week period with Directors of Photography were SKYLAR FISHER (no relation), LOUIS GOMEZ and ROSE ISOUNTS. MAX LAINE was the film editor. Louis was also the producer.

Local Developer Michael Cusumano and BIFF supporting sponsor enjoys the awards being presented. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)
Local Developer Michael Cusumano and BIFF supporting sponsor enjoys the awards being presented. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

“It was really fun, the film was such a surprise for us,” remarked Jessie. “Being” was also the last film she did with her friends, Skylar and Rose, who had graduated last June.

“Being” came about through Burbank’s Regional Occupation program (ROP), which is sponsored by the California Department of Education through the Los Angeles County Office of Education. Since 1986, Burbank ROP has been part of a statewide program designed to bring education and business together. The filmmaking team for “Being” met after school Tuesdays and Thursdays under the direction of MARK MELOCARRO, a ROP Professional Film teacher.

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