“This year’s Academy Award for Best Picture goes to Vinnie Harvey for his short but powerful film ‘Vinnie,’ the story of a sleepy high school wrestler prone to daydreaming in class.”
As he accepted his award – a plastic replica of a real Oscar statue – Harvey gave what may have been one of the shortest acceptance speeches in history.
“A lot of sweat – literally – went into this film,” he said.
The award presentation Friday morning was the final event in Tyler Philipsen’s film study class at St. Edmond High School.
Philipsen, a film buff and high school and college film maker himself, developed the class to help give students an expanded list of class options.
The students went through the same process used for full-length feature films to produce their own shorts.
“They started by writing a proposal, then developed character backgrounds and drew story boards,” Philipsen said.
They also had to write a screenplay, set a film schedule and then, finally, film and edit their work.
Some of the students even had to dig into their pockets to create their masterpieces.
Caelan Burbank needed fuel.
“I had to buy diesel,” he said. “It was about 30 bucks.”
The fuel went into several props.
“It’s about a guy being an idiot that puts his pickup into a cornfield,” he said. “I saved him with a tractor.”
He learned something new during production.
“It’s actually illegal to operate a tow truck unless you’re licensed,” he said.
Liz Johnson had to supply props too.
“I had to bake cookies,” she said.
She didn’t get to use the prop house known as her family kitchen, either.
“I had to buy my own ingredients,” she said.
The students ran into some Hollywood-type problems.
For Jacob Sande, that included issues with the talent.
“I had a couple of actors drop out,” he said.
Mara Forsythe encountered a similar issue.
“It’s hard to find people when you’re not paying them,” she said.
All of the work serves as an eye-opener.
“Now you think about all the work that goes into them,” she said, “and why the credits go on forever.”
Some of the films drew on the students’ experiences. For instance, Harvey said he has dozed off in class dreaming about wrestling matches “Once or twice.”
With one qualification.
“Not in this class,” he said.
One thing the class experience did not do was convince any of the students to reconsider their career paths.
Burbank in particular.
“If anything,” he said, “it’s made me want to stay away.”
In addition to getting to hold the plastic Oscar replica long enough for a pose on the paper “red carpet,” some earned extra credit or foreign coins.
Credit was also given for another first in Philipsen’s memory.
“I think this is the first Academy Awards where they didn’t have to start the music to get somebody to leave the stage,” he said.