Dollhouses, a Monopoly game and an animated bird seemingly have nothing in common — but they equaled huge wins for Katerina Carlson, a sophomore in the Visual and Performing Arts magnet at Dr. Phillips High School.
The film magnet student won six “Best of” awards for her music video, movie trailer, documentary, cinematography, editing and directing work in the school’s 18th annual film festival, hosted by Bob Giguere, coordinator of the TV film magnet program for the last seven years. Carlson was nominated for a seventh award but lost to herself in the Best Editing category.
She submitted three different class projects: The Dollhouse, in the Documentary and Best Cinematography categories; Flying Free, in the Trailers and Best Editing categories; and I’m Still Standing, in the Best Director, Best Editing and Music Video categories.
“It was crazy; it was really weird,” Carlson said. “I was nominated for seven, I expected like two or three. … I didn’t think (I would win) six.”
Giguere said Carlson stands out in the magnet program because of her enthusiasm and her passion.
“She exhibits the model that we preach here at Dr. Phillips: Never less than the best,” he said. “She doesn’t usually settle. One thing I always tell my students, ‘I never want to hear, “That’s good enough.”’ I don’t want my kids, for instance, shooting video in automatic. Automatic is just average. Katerina …will dig down. If you give her feedback, she will fix it. … Her work stands out, not only because she’s good, but she follows directions.”
“I’M STILL STANDING”
Carlson created a music video of her and her younger brother playing the Monopoly board game to Elton John’s “I’m Still Standing.” Ralph was 6 when the video was shot last year.
“As I was trying to come up with songs, I knew I was going to do Monopoly,” she said. “We had gotten out the Monopoly board … and were playing it all the time. Whenever he did anything while playing, his reactions were so funny. He was so into the game; he was so funny during the game. When he’d land on his own properties he owned, he would say, ‘Home, sweet home.’ I knew I had to do something with it.”
Carlson’s video featured scenes of their game blended with scenes of Ralph dressed in a suit and performing at Disney’s Boardwalk and the Park Place neighborhood, along a railroad track, at a hotel, and in front of a real estate agent’s office.
“My mom had to pay him to be in it,” Carlson said.
For her trailer, Carlson filmed scenes for “Flying Free,” a fake movie about a girl who finds a magical notebook and everything she draws in it comes to life — including herself becoming an animated bird.
Carlson said she loves animation and hopes to have a career in it.
Scenes were filmed in downtown Winter Garden and included a foreshadowing shot of her riding her bicycle in front of the giant hummingbird mural on East Joiner Street.
Carlson said she thinks her best project is her documentary on dollhouses.
“I want people to walk away thinking, ‘I never knew much about dollhouses,’” she said.
She has three of her own, including two from her childhood and one her great-grandparents made.
She interviewed several generations of people for this documentary, including her 98-year-old great-grandmother, a middle-aged woman from her church, a teenager and a 7-year-old with a Barbie Dreamhouse.
“I thought nobody would want to be in it, but so many wanted to be a part of it,” Carlson said.
She also interviewed the owners of Ron’s Miniature Shop in Orlando.
“They have this idea of what cinematography is,” Giguere said of many of his students. “It’s not about the cool angle and the cool shot, it’s about how you use the camera. … She took the viewer into a tiny little world, and that’s a really good use of the camera.”
Carlson was among 40 students participating in the competition.
“The annual film festival was designed to provide a showcase for student work,” Giguere said. “It was to celebrate what the students had learned in the classroom and give them a way to honor some of the better work and let others see the work. It has become a penultimate goal to be in the annual film festival and to win an award.”
The entries cover a broad spectrum of topics placed in the different categories.
“Of the three categories Katerina competed in, two of them are reserved for Level 2 students because they’re still learning their skill set,” Giguere said.
He puts together a panel of outside judges, usually professionals in the field.
“The kids already hear from me all year long, so I want them to be judged by someone else, someone who doesn’t know their strengths and weaknesses and so they can share their first impressions.”
A CAREER IN THE ARTS
This is Carlson’s second year in DP’s magnet program. The best part is “getting to do stuff,” she said. “I like making things. I feel like I’m constantly working on things. I like that I get to work on so much.”
Her dream job is animation cinematography storyboard art and concept art.
“I love the visuals, and I want to be the person who decides how the movie is going to look,” she said. “I also want to be a director, but I think I need to look more into that.”
She wants to work for Walt Disney World.
“I have this little dream of making a Disney princess someday,” she said.
“One of the great things about having Katerina is she leads by example,” Giguere said. “She’s very humble. Others who come in with her skill level, we have to work on the chip on their shoulder. … She’s pretty humble, and people see that. She’s approachable. People will understand her success and say, ‘How can I be more like her?’”