Not Just Kid Stuff: Talented High School Filmmakers Head To SXSW
Each year, hundreds of filmmakers submit their films to the prestigious South By Southwest film festival. Screening at the fest gets your film in front of passionate fans and industry insiders. And at SXSW, there’s a special category for short films from talented young Texans. These are two of their stories, up close and personal.
It is kind of funny to hear a high school student talk about “making movies as a kid,” but there you have it. Both Alexia Salingaros and José Couvillon have been experimenting with filmmaking for years already.
“We would always watch movies as a family. My dad is a really big film buff, so he would always give us the trivia behind the filmmaking stuff, says Couvillon, a senior at the North East School of the Arts.
His first foray into filmmaking was to take a Spider-Man toy and create a short stop-motion film. Now, Couvillon says the training he received at NESA did prepare him for a professional environment. For SXSW, he collaborated with classmates on a short documentary about Clark Whittington, the creator of the Art-o-mat, retired cigarette vending machines that now sell small prints and woodblocks for a few bucks apiece.
Salingaros’ documentary, “KERS,” is about one of her classmates at St. Mary’s Hall. “I just noticed in history class every day [that] she had little spots of paint on her hands," Salingaros explains. "And I just kept wondering, what is that?”
Salingaros finally managed to get it out of her friend that she was a graffiti artist who goes by the name KERS. The short film, for Salingaros, was a testament to the courage of her friend, a young woman in the male dominated world of graffiti art.
Making the movie and being exposed to a very different world also had her begin to look at graffiti in a new way. She explains, “Everybody has it in them to create graffiti, this urge to write on things, on physical matter, not just on paper, or on a painting you hang in a museum. Like when we were kids, everybody would take their crayons and draw all over the walls and stuff like that!”
There’s that phrase again — ”When we were kids!” Well, with years of filmmaking behind her already, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Salingaros has two films being screened at SXSW this year. Her animated short, “Luminosity,” is also part of the festival. And this isn’t her first rodeo. She’s been to SXSW before.
“SXSW has grown so much over the years," Salingaros says, remembering her last festival. "There were huge crowds of interesting people. And the high school screening was especially interesting because we got to see peers from all over the country.”
Filmmaking is in the future for both of these young people. Salingaros says she plans on going to a university with a strong film program that will broaden her artistic horizons, once she’s done with high school. Couvillon dreams of being a film editor one day. “I do enjoy being on set, but there’s something about putting together the film at the very end, you’re kind of like the final step in the process,” he says.
The Texas High School Shorts program includes 22 short films, and screens twice during the South By Southwest Film Festival. You can catch it on Saturday, March 14 at 7:45 p.m., or the following Saturday, March 21, at 11:45 a.m. Both screenings take place at the Marchesa Theatre.