VHS Students Successful in GPB Film Challenge
Five Vidalia High School (VHS) students traveled to Georgia Public Broadcasting (GPB) Studio A for the Hope Film Challenge Awards, where they received recognition for their films on stories of hope. Two students, Jayla Phillips and Natalie Rau, were invited onstage at the event to discuss their film, which received an honorable mention in the Top 10 National Finalists. Both girls’ films highlighted their individual stories of hope, as Phillips’ film focused on her experience living with depression in a small, rural community and Rau’s film shared her experience with a family member’s addiction.
These students, as well as others in the Audio Video class, submitted these films to the Hope Giver’s “2022 Hope Film Challenge” in April, which was sponsored by GPB and the Georgia Department of Education. This contest promotes the Hope Givers youth mental wellness series, which highlights hope and resilience across America, as well as the organization’s HOPE acronym: Humanity, Opportunity, Prevention, and Equity. (HOPE) The films were judged by several film industry producers, showrunners, screenwriters, and directors, such as Showtime Channel Producer Justin Hillian, Marvel Writer and Executive Producer Marion Dayre, and Atlanta Film Festival Executive Director Christopher Escobar.
Phillips and Rau joined Hope Giver’s Founder and Executive Producer Tamlin Hall on stage in a discussion of their films, mental health, and future goals. Both students spoke on the accomplishment.
“I really enjoyed the entire experience, but especially being around other creative individuals who have an interest in film, like I do,” Junior Jayla Phillips commented. “It was so special to see others be up front about struggles they have gone through and are going through. Though it was intimidating screening my film and being interviewed in front of others on stage, it was a wonderful, unforgettable opportunity. I can’t wait to try again next year!”
Rau remarked, “It was an amazing experience to meet new people and share my story. Telling people what I’ve been through really lets others know that it’s O.K. to have gone through trauma, and you’re not alone. I will keep sharing my story so everyone knows that there is a happy ending for families who struggle with addiction; there is strength.”
Along with these students, Dottie McDaniel, Mikelle Peters, and Isaiha Rodriguez made the semifinals of the competition, while Karma Butry and Tanner Harris reached the quarterfinals. Rau, Phillips, McDaniel, Rodriguez, and Katie Zabski all traveled to Atlanta for the awards ceremony.
Vidalia High School Audio Video Teacher Jackson Sharpe shared his thoughts on the experience. “I’m incredibly proud of the bravery it took for these students to share their story of hope. Our Audio Video students are powerful storytellers and talented filmmakers, as well. It was surreal to see their work praised and recognized at Georgia Public Broadcasting studios in the front of film industry professionals and Maya Enista Smith, Executive Director of the Born This Way Foundation.”