The Monmouth Film Festival (MFF) prides itself on discovering and promoting films from diverse creators, and that includes their ages. Sometimes too many restrictions and guidelines can limit eligible filmmakers and their creative processes. There are many thriving festivals that have found their niche and choose films based on certain themes. However, the MFF likes to keep their submissions open to anyone and anything. One might think that this is a big undertaking, and the competition is definitely fierce, but as Founder and President Nick Marchese explains, “Here at the Monmouth Film Festival we don’t just do it, we overdo it! We believe in quality and an experience above and beyond from the minute you hit the red carpets out front of the theater.”
That is one of many reasons the MFF accepts directors, interns and volunteers of all ages. Marchese and his team traveled to various high schools in the county to personally find some of the best up and coming filmmakers in their area. Their goal is to invest in young filmmakers, which is why they, along with the New York Film Academy, awarded $50,000 in scholarships to the students of this year's NJ HS Student Showcase. They want to play a part in students introductions into the field and support their educational endeavors, as well as put their names out there right next to directors who have successfully been around the block. The festival itself includes so many free expos and workshops to help these budding creators hone their craft and get their idea from their minds to the big screen, step by step.
It’s truly never too early (or late) for people to follow their dreams. Plus, a good idea is a good idea, no matter who it comes from. Marchese is all ears and of all people understands this as he started this festival when he was only 20 years old. He graduated from Holmdel High School himself and has a BFA in filmmaking from Montclair State, which is why the MFF team feels it’s especially important to spotlight some of the youngest and brightest directors from school’s nearby. Just because they are young doesn’t mean they should be underestimated. They have stories to tell and the MFF wants to help share them.
- ABNORMALITIES - Maddie Marshall // Raritan High School -an awkward teenage boy is being monitored from the most unlikely places.
- ANGELA - Morgan Barth // Middletown High School South -a selfless girl gives strangers a piece of life they are missing.
- GEORGE GRAY - Annie Fleisch // Howell High School -she cannot keep her boat from the water, she has to bring him to where he belongs.
- HARD TIMES - Lucas Crain // Holmdel High School -whilst on a mid afternoon stroll, Rachel, accompanied by her friend Sissy, comes across a discarded hat belonging to her dearest love, Stephen Blackpool. Fearing the worst, Rachel and Sissy set off into the bleak outskirts of Coketown in search of him.
- INKSHED - Shannon Miller // Howell High School -when student and tutor decide to settle their differences once and for all, there will not be bloodshed, but there will be inkshed.
- IT'S A GIRL - Jacalyn Siminerio // Communications High School -an art film exploring the flexibility of gender expression.
- REPEAT - Jess D'Agostino // Holmdel High School -in a post-apocalyptic world, a man seeking refuge encounters a sinister and life-threatening force of evil.
- THE JOURNEY - Sandie LiVolsi // Middletown High School North -a young woman spends the day traveling through the city to reach her final destination.
- X WAYS TO MAKE MONEY - Jonas M Engle // Rumson Fair Haven High School -two friends discover that they are completely out of cash, and they devise various plans to attempt to get money. They attempt robbery, begging, and insurance fraud before running into their ex, whose car and wallet they steal after running him over.