Eighth-grader’s film takes top prize in Sequim festival

Sequim Middle School student Nicholas D'Amico won the top prize at the 2016 Sequim Education Foundation Student Film Festival for “Knock

SEQUIM — Eighth-grader Nicholas D’Amico has this filmmaking thing down . . . almost.

After winning the School Spirit Award in 2014 and Best Actor honors in 2015, Nicholas’ third entry in as many years into the Sequim Education Foundation Student Film Festival was selected as Best Picture on Friday by a panel of judges and from a field of nine films.

For the time, the education foundation hosted an art show during the film screenings at Sequim High School.

Nicholas didn’t have to go far to get the idea for his 2016 film, “Knock, Knock, Knock.”

“We get knocks [at my house], and my mom asked me [once] to go answer the door,” Nicholas recalled. “I said, ‘I don’t want to answer the door — it could be anyone!’ ”

That planted a seed, and a year later, Nicholas was in production, laying out storyboards and writing a script.

The Sequim Middle School student said things went fairly smoothly in production and filming only took about three days.

Nicholas credits Woody French, who helped advise young filmmakers at a student film workshop in Sequim and was technical adviser for the film festival.

Nicholas said French helped him with tips such as using other equipment in lieu of expensive filmmaking gear such as using a wheelchair (instead of pricey rail tracks) for tracking shots.

Nicholas hit a snag, however, when he found the music accompanying “Knock, Knock, Knock” was under copyright.

It took him a month to find a track suitable for this year’s top film.

Nicholas wasn’t the only winner Friday, as a bevy of student films were lauded by school staff, classmates and the community at large.

Earning second place was “Ways to Celebrate a Three-Pointer” by Kalli Wiker, McKenna Hastings and Chloe Clemons.

For the second consecutive year, Kalli took home Best Actress (she won in 2015 for the music video “Seahawks Super Bowl Heartbreak”).

Taking third place was “Once Upon a Death” by Maddy Dietzman and Amanda Weller. The film also earned the festival’s Best Special Effects honor.

“Soroptimist” by Kelly Anders and Hannah Patterson won the Community Service Film Award sponsored by Sequim Sunrise Rotary, and a multi-filmmaker production called “Spanish at SHS” took home the School Spirit Award.

In all, seven middle school students and 15 high school students were involved in producing films for this year’s festival, creating five-minute (or less) videos for academic scholarships and cash prizes.

Nicholas, who was bestowed a $1,000 scholarship for first place this year, impressed judges in 2014 with “Mrs. Morrison’s 1st Period Science Class” and “Facts and Info About CenturyLink” in 2015.

This time around, Nicholas set about putting to film his imagination as a series of characters — policeman, homicidal maniac, middle school-sized hot dog — came a-knocking. He played all the roles himself.

The hardest part of production, the aforementioned music issue, was “going back and changing.”

As for coming years, Nicholas expects to be right back at the Sequim High auditorium with film after film.

“I’ll be here till my senior year,” he said.

________

Michael Dashiell is an editor with the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which is composed of Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News, Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum. Reach him at mdashiell@sequimgazette.com.

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