Two films made by Delaware Hayes High School students were recently shown during the Wexner Center’s Ohio Shorts Film Festival.
The first film from Hayes shown at the festival was titled “Amber,” and it follows a man stuck in a time loop. The film was created by junior Ross Jeffers along with fellow junior Sean Russell, who stars in the film. The second film, “Unhinged,” follows a man who hits and kills another man with his car but begins seeing him everywhere. “Unhinged” was created by seniors Hayden Milewsky and Simone Massis.
Jeffers said his film was partially inspired by Kurt Vonnegut’s “Slaughterhouse-Five” for its non-traditional story structure.
“There is no straightforward story arc like you would see in other books,” Jeffers explained. “It even gets to the point were the character is questioned if he felt like he was bug trapped in Amber. Stuck in time.”
Jeffers said they filmed the short in the fall of 2019, and he was shocked when he found out it had been selected for the Wexner Center’s film festival.
“I just remember scrolling through my phone on the floor endlessly, bored out of my mind,” Jeffers said. “I decided to check my emails. There was an email from the Wexner Center. It told me that ‘Amber’ had got in the festival. I immediately ran throughout the house screaming at the top of my lungs that we did it! Also, I called my friend who had helped me make the film. We still cannot believe it to this day!”
Traditionally, the film would have been screened at the festival, but because of the COVID-19 outbreak, the festival was held online. Jeffers said he was disappointed but was looking at the positives.
“‘Amber’ would have been screened at the Wexner Center, which would have been breathtaking, but the pandemic sadly took that away,” he said. “However, this film festival was online and reached a higher audience!”
Jeffers said he got lots of feedback on the film, especially it’s ending.
“I saw and heard many people congratulate me,” he said. “Most of them still ask, why did the story end the way it did? Again, I will not tell. I swear it will be revealed eventually, one way or another.”
Jeffers added he is proud of the film, his first ever in the Hayes Cinematics class. He said he plans to continue making films in the future.
“I will plan to continue this passion of filmmaking and see where it takes me,” Jeffers said in an email Thursday. “Honestly, if it goes well, then I would have my dream job! Anything involved with storytelling is ideal.”
As for “Unhinged,” Milewsky said he had the idea for the film before he was given an assignment in Hayes Cinematics for a silent film. He decided the idea would work without any dialogue.
“I wanted to convey the emotions with just shots,” said Milewsky, who also stars in the film. “I’m really proud of myself for the way it turned out.”
Massis, who directed, shot and edited the film, said they shot the film in January, and she really enjoyed Milewsky’s idea.
“Hayden had this idea that guilt would manifest itself in someone’s life to the point of insanity and causing our main character to essentially lose touch with reality,” Massis said. “We all were really excited about the idea and went for it. I really liked the way it turned out after we put all our ideas into it. This was a result of true collaboration.”
Massis had a film she created screened at the “Short. Sweet. Film Fest.” in Cleveland earlier this year and was surprised when she had another film selected for a festival.
“I must be on a roll with good luck right now to have two in a row like that,” she said. “I found out only 15 films were selected for the festival out of 150 or so entries. That is crazy considering another film was selected from my class.”
Massis added she missed in-person feedback that would have happened at the festival but was pleased people were able to watch it online.
Massis will attend Columbia College in Chicago this fall, where she will study film.
Milewsky said he’s planning to attend Ohio University this fall to study film, adding his film being selected is a great addition to his resume.
“I’m going to college for a film major, so I’ll add that to my portfolio,” Milewsky said. “It’s a great opportunity for me. I’m glad mine and Ross’ film got picked. It puts Hayes on the board.”
Hayes Cinematics instructor Thomas Hering added, “It’s been six years since we had a film in the Ohio Shorts festival, so for us to get two films in, well, I was very proud of them. The students in Hayes Cinematics have set a new standard of creativity and teamwork for our future classes.”
The films can be seen at wexarts.org/film-video/ohio-shorts-2020.
“Amber” begins at 3:59 and runs 4 minutes and 38 seconds. “Unhinged” begins at 59:50 and runs for 3 minutes and 39 seconds.
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.