Pictured from left: SITV moderators Yosup Joo & Don Gamble; Jack Weber & Henry Callander; Gina Bruni
Three SI students have won awards in two film competitions, one showcased at the White House and another that the filmmakers hope will inspire care for the ocean.
Gina Bruni ’15 and Henry Callander ’14 created a film about SITV – the newest way students at SI learn about announcements and news during their announcement periods. They received an honorable mention for the inaugural White House Student Film Festival, a high honor considering the 2,000 entries for the contest. As recipients of an honorable mention, Callander and Bruni had their film featured on WhiteHouse.gov/FilmFestival and highlighted through White House social media channels.
Callander also collaborated with Jack Weber ’14 on a film that took third place in the San Francisco International Ocean Film Festival on March 9 and that won the top editing prize for the Peninsula Film Festival.
These three students all have in common a passion for filmmaking and inspiration from both the Media X Club, moderated by SI science teacher Don Gamble, and SITV, moderated by both Gamble and psychology teacher Yosup Joo.
All three praised the lessons they learned and the tips they received from both men that helped them fine-tune their entries.
Both Callander and Bruni became interested in filmmaking before coming to SI, and both participate as anchors and videographers in SITV.
In grade school, Callander took classes in computer arts and media arts. “I loved grabbing my dad’s camcorder and filming my family,” he noted.
In her sophomore year in high school, Bruni decided to pursue filmmaking professionally. “I started out by Googling how to become a director and break into Hollywood, and then I decided to take summer courses in directing, screenwriting and acting.” She later created a short film based on her own screenplay.
She and Callander learned about the White House contest two days before the deadline and decided to make a documentary about SITV as the contest asked students to submit work on school STEM programs (science, technology, engineering and math).
“Gina and Henry demonstrated passion and initiative in their White House submission,” said Joo. “They storyboarded, wrote, shot, edited and submitted the piece all on their own. I could not be any more proud of what they made out of thin air. They have been and are valuable contributors to and collaborators with SITV and the SI community at large.”
Bruni, who also made an anti-bullying film this year for a contest sponsored by the San Francisco District Attorney’s office, hopes to study filmmaking at USC, UCLA, LMU or Chapman University. Callander, who has already been accepted by Chapman, also plans to study filmmaking in one of the Southern California colleges to which he has applied.
He and Weber produced “The Ocean Is In Me,” a video that featured Weber’s passion for surfing. He asked Callander to collaborate on the piece, which he also narrated by reading an original poem of his that discusses his connection with the waves and that reads, in part, “I was born in the ocean / raised by the waves / the ocean is in me. From a young age / I felt intoxicated by the beauty of the blue.”
The video makes clever use of a GoPro camera that Weber mounted to his surfboard and that showcases his aerial acrobatics in the waters off Baker Beach.
Weber inherited his love of surfing from his father, who, Weber admits, “is still pretty good. He keeps pushing me to get better.”
Weber’s love for the water is, at times, more intense than his love for surfing. “Some days I will paddle out and never catch a wave. It’s still great to get out on the water. One time I was surrounded by a pod of dolphins leaping around me, including one that jumped out of the water five feet from my board.”
Even though his film is not about ecology, Weber sees his work “as a good place to start. Before you start caring for the ocean ecology, you need to have a connection with it. Some of the best conservationists I know are surfers.”
Callander hopes the film will inspire others to learn to surf or simply walk around the beach and enjoy the Pacific. “I’m amazed how many people who live in San Francisco simply don’t take advantage of where we live. And I was proud to be able to help Jack tell his story.”