Student-produced films hit silver screen at Park City High School
The Miner Film Festival is an annual event showcasing the best student films. This year's edition is just around the corner.
According to the head of the Park City High School film program Kyle Fish, the festival started in the early 2000s.
Applicants submit a rough cut for review by film students, the film club and Fish, himself. If the work passes this stage, the student finalizes their film and submits it for judging and to be shown at the festival.
Fish said awards are given out at the end of the festival in categories similar to the Academy Awards. Prizes aren’t usually included, but on occasion, a business will sponsor the festival and donate a cash prize.
PCHS senior James Kwan is submitting a couple of his projects this year.
His first film, “Kwanzini's St. Patrick's Day Special II - The Banshees of McDonald's,” is about a friend trying to steal the McDonald’s shamrock shake recipe.
He said he got the idea for his other film, “Hotel Monaco,” while playing a blackjack game on his phone.
“It's sort of like a Tarantino style incorporated into it," he said. "So essentially what the film is about is all these people gathered from like these, as you say, high-class cities gathering to an elite hotel in Monaco for a high-stakes poker game. But in preparation of this poker game, some of the characters have a sinister plan to kill the other players to raise their chances of winning.”
The festival not only sparks students’ creativity but has ignited a career or two.
Bennett Barbosa, who graduated in 2018, said he got into film classes as soon as they were offered and continued through his high school career. He credits the Sundance Film Festival for introducing him into the industry.
“The world comes to our small town for two weeks and wanted to know what the hype was about and, you know, kind of started to peep around and see what it was about. Fell in love instantly,” he said.
While at PCHS, Barbosa submitted six films; his favorite is called "The Rise."
“It was a documentary style," he said. "It wasn't really a promo but it was kind of just following around the 2017 graduating class football team at the time. The varsity team. I just rode around on the bus with them to the away games. Filmed some of the home games and the tailgates and that was just cool because of the audience reaction. Really showed how much spirit there was.”
Since graduating from Hussain College, formerly Studio School LA, he has started his own production company, Happy I’m Sad. There he produces music videos and local TV commercials.
His company has worked with artists including Chris Brown and Tyga and Barbosa said they just wrapped filming the music video for the upcoming Fast and Furious film “Fast X.”
He said he’s grateful for his time in the PCHS film program and that if it weren't for his involvement, he would not be where he is today.
The Miner Film Festival is Friday, May 12, at 7 p.m. at the Eccles Center in Park City. It is free for students and will also be livestreamed on thePCHS Live YouTube channel.
View past festival films here.