On Feb. 27, Huntsville High School junior Jonathan Williams presented his film at the Prison City Film Festival. The festival opened submissions to students, allowing submission of a film they made for free. Williams submitted a trailer for his film “Undervalued.”
“It was an awesome opportunity to be allowed to submit my own film,” Williams said. “There were plenty of issues throughout the process, but in the end I was able to submit a 40-second trailer. I am very proud, and can’t thank everyone who helped me enough.”
Williams had just over one month to film and edit his trailer for the festival. To make the most of his time, he tried to spend two periods of his day filming.
“The deadline was really hectic,” Williams said. “First the deadline was January 3, which I had no way of finishing in time for that. Just before I gave up, I learned they had extended the submission deadline to January 25, making my life a lot easier.”
Teacher Charles Shewell encouraged Williams throughout the production. When he learned of the festival, he immediately informed all his students of the opportunity and helped critique the videos.
“Having a student submit their work to a film festival is a proud moment for me, as a teacher,” Shewell said. “It takes a commitment that many students don’t have due to time and deadlines that need to be met. It takes a certain kind of person to open their heart and share it with everyone. I have seen Jonathan [Williams] take on hurdle after hurdle in order to put his work out there, and to be able to watch it on a theater screen at the Old Town Theater was an amazing moment for me.”
Receiving more than 100 submissions from around the world, the Prison City Film Festival is a big way for students and filmmakers to display their work.
“Prison City Film Festival has opened doors for our students, and having Jonathan submit work has created an expectation about what it takes to create work, to take it to the next level,” Shewell said.
With this opportunity, Williams is looking forward to making more films in the future.
“The trailer was not my best work,” Williams said. “I know as I continue to make videos I’ll get better. I’m hoping to have another film ready for another festival in September. Someday I hope to be a household name in film.”