A Delaware Hayes High School student recently showed a film she made at the “Short. Sweet. Film Fest.” in Cleveland.
Simone Massis, a senior, said her original film “Breakthrough” was selected and shown during the film festival’s Student Night on Feb. 27. Massis’ film follows a teen, played by Hayes senior Paisleigh Middleton, who undergoes hypnotherapy to help her cope with PTSD. It was one of 21 films shown on Student Night.
“I tried to portray all the feelings you feel when you have PTSD through metaphors and her overcoming them in different ways,” Massis said. “It’s a whole dream sequence kind of. I didn’t have a group for this project, so I could do whatever I wanted. I was stressed, but it ended up being one of the best ones I’ve made. I shot, edited, wrote, and directed it.”
Massis said she was in for a big surprise during the question and answer portion of the festival.
“When it said ‘student,’ I expected a few college students and a few high school ones,” Massis said. “But during the Q&A, they asked what schools we went to and everyone was going down the line saying what university and when they got to me I was like, ‘I’m a senior at Delaware Hayes High School.’”
Massis said she then learned she was the only high school student in the festival.
“It was really awkward,” Massis said. “I’m kind of proud. It was clear that everyone else had a budget and things that I didn’t have. If you look at it in a positive light, it’s pretty cool.”
Massis said being accepted to the festival was also a surprise.
“I made a film freeway account to submit to film festivals, so I found that one, the Short Sweet, and submitted,” Massis said. “They take a few months to get back to you to let you know if you’re in or not. I kind of forgot, and it snuck up on me. I was having a really bad day recently and I checked my phone and had an email saying it had been selected.”
She said the film got a warm reception, which was validating.
“I think people liked it,” Massis said. “They clapped. Some people came up to me and said, ‘great film,’ afterward. That felt awesome. It was a really cool overall experience. I’d never done anything like that before.”
She said the film festival has only continued to inspire her.
“Seeing my film next to other people’s made mine feel small, but then again, their credits were long, long lists of people,” Massis said. “I saw really good films that made me inspired to write better things. I stayed up the night after my showing and wrote a whole new script.”
Massis is planning to attend Columbia College in Chicago to study film.
“Breakthrough” can be found on Vimeo.com/simonemassisfilms along with two other films produced by Massis.