The Winn Room at the Coronado Public Library fills up as 1 p.m. draws closer.
It’s the first of two Emerging Filmmakers showcases, meaning anyone from high school to college to 60-year-olds taking their first film course qualify in this category, according to CIFF CEO and Artistic Director Merridee Book.
The demographics reflect the talent in the room, as high schoolers and college students meander in to see their film on the big screen, or to support someone they know.
In the room is Coronado High School senior Hayden Ellinger, who’s film, “With Valor,” a short about a soldier during World War I, made it to his very first film festival.
The lights dimmed and the screen lit up.
Nine short films over 2 hours
Nine short films played over the next 2 hours.
A stop motion animation, “The Tell-Tale Heart” started the showcase inspired by its namesake, a story written by Edgar Allan Poe, and the films ended with “Azizam,” a period piece set in 1970s Iran as it went through a revolution.
And the variety of films didn’t stop there.
Along with stop motion animation and a period piece, audiences saw a few traditional short films shot in and around homes, a western-style film and the World War I piece, with just as many themes to explore within these shorts.
“With Valor” was the sixth film to play and it was just around 7 minutes; and it only had three different scenes in the film.
As one man sits at the center of the screen for the entirety of the film, the scenes follow his journey, or lack thereof, during a battle in World War I.
The setting repeats as bombs go off in one scene, as he attempts to sleep among chaos in another scene and finally, as he gets shot in the final scene.
A message sent to his mother says that her son, the soldier, died a hero, and with valor.
“The whole point of his character is he goes to war, does nothing and dies,” Ellinger said during the Q&A following the screening. “It reflected what I wanted to do in my commentary on the first World War.”
Investing $1,000 in savings for film
Ellinger is in his last year of high school and making a film set more than 100 years ago was no easy task, he said.
He built the set in an alleyway behind his house, with around $1,000 from his savings for the entire film budget. He said he got some help from his parents.
“It was rainy season, so there were sandbags given out in the community that we stole,” Ellinger quips. “We put it back.”
A rifle in the film was donated by the Veteran of Foreign Wars organization in Coronado, a prop near the end was a Soviet gas mask, according to Ellinger, and smoke bombs and costumes were the main expense.
It was a very tight-knit shoot, but it was also very comfortable, which is what I was going for.-Hayden Ellinger
“It was a very tight-knit shoot, but it was also very comfortable, which is what I was going for,” Ellinger said.
Films playing throughout weekend
Films will continue playing throughout the weekend, with round two of the Emerging Filmmakers showcase happening on Nov. 10 at the Winn Room at the Coronado Public Library at 7 p.m.
Tickets can still be purchased at https://festival.coronadofilmfest.com/.