Windermere High School sophomore Jaylee Graham was in disbelief when she found out her film had won the best comedy award at the Enzian Reel Short Teen Film Festival.
“Limited Patience,” is a short film portraying the sibling dynamic, focusing on the relationship between older and younger siblings.
Lori Laurenzana, digital video technology instructor at the school, said she thinks Jaylee’s film not only captured all of the components required in a well-rounded film but also was extremely relatable for the audience.
“A lot of time was spent during pre-production with actually planning out every idea and shot,” she said. “Her execution and production was awesome, with all her different creative shots and getting good audio. Her editing of the film in post-production was just outstanding.”
Jaylee’s comedy was created as a project for her Digital Video Technology class.
The film features Jaylee’s siblings – Wren, 15, and Jasper, 12 – and she said it is largely based on actual events that take place at home.
“When I decided I wanted my brother to be in the film, it kind of just turned into a comedy,” she said. “That’s what he’s best at, I think. From there, it’s just different scenarios, where my younger brother is bothering my younger sister in some way, and he also makes those sound effects you hear in the film all the time at home, so I wanted that to be one of the main things shown.”
Although she already had the idea for the film in her head, she said her first challenge was convincing her brother to participate.
“He never really wanted to be in any of my films,” she said. “This is the first one he’s in. He’s weirdly camera shy, but you would never think that if you knew him. After doing this, he has already asked me when he can be in another film.”
Jaylee said she was a bit rushed on time and put the film together in about two weeks.
Although she won the award, she still feels there is plenty of room for improvement.
“When I watch that film, I always find something new that is wrong with it,” she said.
Jaylee said she is most proud of encouraging her brother to be in the film.
“I think just getting my brother out there,” she said. “I think he should get more into acting, and I think this film helps to encourage him.”
She thinks one of her strongest characteristics in the film is the different shots she was able to achieve.
“I was able to add a lot of variety to it, so it’s very interesting to watch,” she said. “The most complicated thing was just the filming process. Getting my siblings to cooperate was difficult. They’re frustrating to work with, but the payoff came through in the end.”
Joshua Graham, Jaylee’s father, is the program director for the digital filmmaking and video production program at F.I.R.S.T. Institute in Maitland.
He said this was the first film project his daughter allowed him to see.
“(It’s) funny to me,” he said. “She’s pretty secretive with all of her art and video projects. I didn’t really know what to expect going in, but both as her father and as a film professional, I was impressed. I think she did a great job capturing the sibling dynamic in both a comedic and heartwarming way and clearly put a lot of thought into how to tell the story she created.”
Jaylee said she decided to submit the film to the festival because it was her favorite one to make and she had the most fun creating it.
The Enzian Reel Short Teen Film Festival is an event that encourages students in grades eight through 12 — either individually or in groups — to enter short films into the free competition.
This is the ninth year the theater has partnered with the Winter Park Library to host the event.
Friends and family members gathered Feb. 25 for the official selection; attendees were able to watch the selected competition films play on the big screen at Enzian. Prizes were awarded to the winners selected for the screening by the audience and special jury, and voting was done virtually.
Joshua Graham was beyond proud to see his daughter win.
“She was a little caught off-guard when they called her name, so I had to prod her to go up and get the award,” he said. “I was all smiles. It’s always a great feeling when any of my kids receive recognition for something they worked hard on. I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next.”
Other Windermere students who had their films qualify for an official selection include Austin Johnson, Carly Johnson, Megan Murray, Brendan Roop, Gui Santos, Noah Stone and Elise Williams.
In addition, Jaylee, as well as students Ashley Aguayo and Chris Mendoza, had their films selected for the Life Screenings International Short Film Festival.
Life Screenings is a monthly showcase of films that “displays films that show a world we want to live in,” according to Film Freeway.
Exhibited filmmakers from around the world can attend in-person or virtually to discuss their creations and engage with the audience. The free, 75-minute event is four years running and takes place at the Winter Park Library.
Laurenzana said Jaylee is like a secret weapon the school has.
“She’s so quiet but she is just so creative,” she said. “You see it in all her films when we watch them in class. Just very talented with the ideas and how she puts everything together.”
STUDENT OF CINEMA
Jaylee said her parents sent her film to the rest of the extended family who enjoyed it, as well as her siblings.
This is her second year taking the DVT class, which she said she was encouraged to take by her father.
“Jaylee and her siblings all share a creative mindset, which comes out in different ways,” Joshua Graham said. “It’s pretty incredible to me how Jaylee can teach herself how to do things and fine-tune those skills, almost in secret. She taught herself how to use Blender, a 3D modeling program, without telling anyone.”
Jaylee said she never knew she enjoyed film until she started the class, and her favorite part is the creativity the students get to explore.
“There’s a lot of things you can do with film … a lot of stories I think you can tell,” she said.
Other past film projects she has enjoyed include a short horror film for the classes’ fright fest, where students create scary movies and study the art of suspense during October near Halloween. Jaylee’s involved a shadow monster that slowly turned the lights in the room off and eventually got her sister.
Although she may pursue film in the future, Jaylee said she is also considering keeping it as a hobby and pursuing another interest in game development.