Movie magic, done entirely by students, comes to the big screen at Dr. Phillips High School. (Photo by Michael Freeman).
DR. PHILLIPS – On the large screen in the Performing Arts Center at Dr. Phillips High School, the video that opened the evening’s event showed two student technicians getting a call from Elliot Schwartz, the instructor and director of the school’s Television Production Magnet Program.
Schwartz was trying to get to the school, and couldn’t, so the students advised him to go to a nearby phone booth, hop inside, and wait. He did.
The telephone booth, it turns out, also doubled as a time traveling machine, the kind Dr. Who uses so frequently for his fantastical travels. It also turned out to be bad with navigation, taking Schwartz to such locations as the Enzian Theatre in Maitland and Olympia High School.
And then … in an explosive burst of smoke, that phone booth appeared on the Dr. Phillips High School stage, in front of the audience, with Schwartz inside. He walked out of the booth to address the audience – to thunderous applause.
It was the start of the 7th Annual Dr. Phillips High School Film Festival “Movie Magic,” an event that highlights the skills, talents, and bright futures of the students who have spent the past few years studying under Schwartz, who also served as the master of ceremonies for the Friday night festival.
“This has been another great year for our program,” he said. “Our students have never been more creative.”
The festival proceeded to show a wide variety of student films, including trailers for movies, music videos, and documentaries – an example of the diverse challenges that students get to tackle when they enter the high school’s film technology program, Schwartz said.
“Essentially, they learn how to put a project together from conception to completion,” Schwartz said. “I’m also very proud of our graduating students this year, our seniors.”
Many of them, he added, have already been accepted to some of the nation’s most prestigious colleges.
“I truly will miss them all,” Schwartz said.
The festival opened with three “special projects” that were singled out for distinction. The first, “Texting and Driving,” is a short cautionary film, made much like a television commercial, about the dangers of sending text messages on a cell phone while operating a motor vehicle.
The film showed a student texting while behind the wheel of a car, to a friend who was seated comfortably in his living room. The student driving the car loses control as his focus stays on the text messaging, and the video cuts to the student, bloody and being taken away in an ambulance.
Produced and directed by Andrew Clerico, with cinematography by Keith Sullivan, the video was produced with the cooperation of Walt Disney World and the Florida Highway Patrol, and will be used as a public service announcement, Schwartz said.
“Pretty soon you’ll be seeing it all over Florida,’’ he said.
The second special project was ‘’Le Ruban,” a short film made in Miami and produced by Valeria Gonzalez, about two students studying ballet and the pressures they face to perfect their talent.
The third special film was “The Message,” directed by Nick Flamand.
“This project is a trailer for a horror film that will be completed soon,’’ Schwartz said.
The Performing Arts Center hosted the 7th Annual Dr. Phillips High School Film Festival. (Photo by Michael Freeman).
The horror film will star Robert Z’Dar as a psychotic killer who targets a teenage girl who makes the mistake of befriending him online without knowing who he is – or what he wants. ‘’Could you survive without the Internet for a day?’’ the trailer asks, as the teenage girl, Cindy, ends up running for her life.
Those three projects, Schwartz said, capture the unique diversity of what the students produced this academic year.
“We had over 75 entries this year,” Schwartz said. “I wish we could show them all.”
One of the student assignments was the “Little Red Project” – to take the story of Little Red Riding Hood and see what they could do with it. Several videos were shown in this category, including “The Red Ring,” “Little Red and Wolf,’’ and “Lil Red in da Hood.’’
“Let’s see some movie magic,’’ Schwartz said.

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