Lights, camera — awards! Meet RKA’s prize-winning filmmakers


Hollywood has come to the David A. Stein Riverdale/Kingsbridge Academy as the middle and high school held its first-ever student film festival, RKA Roar.

Under the theme “Teen Life and Inspiration,” student filmmakers won accolades for funniest, most entertaining and most informative films.

Sophia Kline won a trophy and a cash prize of $50 for her piece “The Extreme Riders Sports Edit.” The seventh-grader assembled a series of video clips showing her and her friends jumping over each other on scooters, jumping down staircases on their bikes in the park, and onto steps on their bicycles.

“It’s me and my friends riding bikes and doing tricks,” she said. “What inspired me is that every time we learned new tricks, we like to record it.”

Kline usually films her friends doing bike tricks. So for the festival, she located previously recorded video and edited those pieces together while adding some new clips. The best part of the process, Kline said, was looking at all of the footage she recorded and seeing the progress they made.

Kline was surprised by her win because locating and then editing all the clips had “stressed” her out.

Jackson Van Horn took the award for most informative film. His public service announcement “Footprints,” which used a combination of phone texts and video, tackled the dangers of posting an inappropriate photo online.

The unseen main character, a minor, posts a picture of himself drinking. It seems innocent enough until the student speaks with a high school admissions officer and his application gets rejected because of the pictures.

After that failure, the student deletes photo. Or, so he thought. A second admissions officer locates the deleted image online and also rejects him.

Van Horn cast his parents in the roles of the admissions officers. “They did a good job,” he said.

The inspiration for the eighth-grader’s PSA came from witnessing what other people share online in social media. In addition to winning a trophy and the cash prize of $50, Van Horn also received an internship with BronxNet, a community television channel with Bronx-focused programming.

The best part of being in the film festival, Van Horn said, is sharing his work with an audience.

“I think the audience liked it because they did clap,” he said. “I just hope that I taught the audience more about, like, this issue.”

The award for the funniest film went to sixth-grader William Salleres for “The Blob vs. William.” He used stop-motion animation on a clay puppet he made, and then increased the film’s speed so the blob appears to move.

The blob chased Salleres throughout the film.

“Stop-motion was my favorite because I was bringing it to life,” Salleres said about the blob. “It was just an inanimate object instead of just a piece of clay, but you are bringing it to life.”

Salleres said he started editing when he was four, learning the tricks of the trade from his father who who also is an editor.

With his cash prize, Salleres said he plans to buy “more tools to make these films because I really enjoy doing this.” He already is at work on his next project, “The T-Rex of Terror,” where Salleres will battle a dinosaur.

Elizabeth Benders, the president of the parents association that developed the idea of a film festival, called it an “amazing additional artistic outlet at our school.”

Besides a trophy and cash prize, one winner — Jackson Van Dorn — also received an internship at BronxNet.

The Kingsbridge Riverdale Van Cortlandt Development Corp. will show the films, along with other selections from the festival, during its upcoming movie night series at Vinmont Veteran Park July 20, and later at Seton Park on Sept. 8.

RKA principal Lori O’Mara described the student-submitted films as an eye-opener.

“It gave me a chance to see some other sides of them that I might not normally see (like) their interests, passions and talents,” she said. “I think that students walked away feeling proud of their work.” In fact, a few kids told O’Mara it was the first time they shared their work with an audience like this.

What suggestions do the winners have for future filmmakers?

“You don’t need the professional stuff,” Van Horn said. “You know, it’s really easy as long as you are yourself and creative, you can create.”

Salleres agreed. “Today, nowadays, it’s much easier to edit everything,” he said.

“You don’t need studios. You can do it all at home.”

The David A. Stein Riverdale/Kingbridge Academy, RKA, Elizabeth Benders, Sophia Kline, Jackson Van Horn, William Salleres, RKA Student Film Festival, RKA Roar