Youth filmmakers dive into passion projects

YouthZone's annual Film Fest features five youths being open and vulnerable about the realities of their 'upside down world'

YouthZone’s annual Youth Film Fest will feature five youth filmmakers focusing on their own visions of their “upside-down world.”

YouthZone’s annual fundraiser, its Youth Film Fest, is going virtual this year. “An Inspired View of Today’s World” will feature five youth filmmakers focusing on their visions of the “upside-down world” they’re currently experiencing due to social isolation and social justice, according to YouthZone’s website.

The Film Fest will begin promptly at 7 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 25, and an online auction that includes items ranging from tickets to the Glenwood Vaudeville Revue to helicopter tours and golf outings will begin two days earlier on Wednesday, Sept. 23.

YouthZone reached out to Film Producer Hannah Pike to help mentor the youth filmmakers through the process of creating their films.

“At the very beginning I just met with them as a group and said ‘OK what’s your plan, or what’s your idea,’” Pike said. “I told them when the deadline is, when it’s due by, and I broke down a production schedule for them – ‘you should have your script written by then, and you should be shooting by here, and editing by this week,’ and then we went through it step by step throughout each week.”

Pike, who had previous experience teaching in the Aspen High School film program, said that teaching through Zoom meetings and email presented special challenges.

“It’s hard to hold people accountable when you can’t see them face to face, but we adapt and we overcome,” Pike said. “You have to be very flexible and open to adaptability and being able to roll with the punches.”

But Pike said the process of mentoring the youths has been insightful for her, and she’s enjoyed seeing their creativity and passions come through.

“What I’ve been amazed by is their vulnerability to be open, Pike said. “A lot of their films are personal essays of what it’s like for them, or their friends or their community throughout this pandemic.

“I think it’s beautiful that they’ve been able to use film to really express themselves and been open and vulnerable and it’s been a very beautiful process to witness.”

Youth filmmaker Belle Ebner said her YouthZone Ascent film details the death of a childhood friend who had died at the hands of her boyfriend near the end of her senior year in high school.

“I wanted to go in-depth on the horror and prevalence of domestic violence, and spread awareness of this serious issue,” Ebner said. “My video serves as both a memorialization of my friend and a source of education or realization for the public on what domestic violence really looks like and what is the best way to handle it.

“It ends with various resources for those who may be struggling with this issue.”

Filmmaker Katelin Labrum said her film is about connecting with nature in Colorado.

“Everyone’s experience is different,” Labrum said. “When you connect you’re supposed to feel this calming positive feeling. I played a piano piece: ‘Sound of Silence’ — Simon & Garfunkel covered by Disturbed. I used this because I thought it was perfect, because nature is silent.”

Jessica Kollar said her film is about the dissonance between how we live during these times vs. what’s going on in the world, and how we can feel disconnected from each other.

“Every clip I’ve used is from the same day, and takes the perspective of teens in this valley,” she said.

Kate Mitchell said she made her film is about the Class of 2020, and how they were impacted by COVID.

“It was a hard time for us, and there was definitely a lot of adapting, but we made the best of it,” Mitchell said. “It was hard to not experience the most memorable parts of high school such as senior prom, senior sports season, and even our high school graduation.

“We still made amazing and unforgettable memories that we will remember just as much as if COVID never happened,” she added.

Emily Walker said her film is based around the whole idea of what it feels like to be in the middle of a pandemic.

“I focus more on the emotional wellbeing of some people that could be having a tough time throughout quarantine,” she said.

Walker said she recruited a friend, McKenna Sweeney, to help with the project.

“We went through a lot of ideas, but settled with a music video style for our final product, that way we wouldn’t have to worry about microphones or background sound,” she said. “While editing the clips together, I wanted to make the beginning feel almost depressing to represent how most people feel in these uncertain times — alone or afraid. But then towards the end of the film, happier themes come into play to make the point that everybody is in the same position right now, and the only way to truly get though it is not giving up hope and having friends and family to talk to and support you.”

Tickets for the Film Fest are $35 and can be purchased at

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