CEDAR GROVE, NJ - Big things are happening a Cedar Grove High School -- students are making movies.  

After two and a half months of hard work, the CGHS film club was ecstatic to find out that their film, “47 Years,” was accepted into the Garden State Film Festival in Asbury Park. The students and faculty members worked tirelessly to create the festival-worthy film, which started out as part of a screen-writing exercise for the film club, and was developed and written solely by students.

“The faculty was only ‘on-set’ to supervise,” film club advisor Joseph Morabito said. “The students handled everything on their own, from creating a shot list, to directing, camera operating, recording sound, etc.”

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The short film is about a girl who receives notifications on her cell phone that add or subtract time from her lifespan every time she makes a healthy or unhealthy choice. Three faculty members supervised the process while 30 students performed different roles to complete the film.

“Making the film was a lot of fun. I had a great experience working with everyone,” sophomore director Abby Warkentin said. “I was nervous at first when I was chosen to be the director since I had never done it before and I knew the film had to be good enough for the Garden State Film Festival. Luckily, I had the support of my amazing friends, who I couldn't have done it without.”

Sophomore Owen Posnett, who served as assistant camera operator, is thrilled that his and his classmates’ hard work recognized.

“This was the first time I've been involved in the process, and it felt good to be working on something very meaningful to everyone there,” Posnett said. “It was also very satisfying to be devoting so much time to something I enjoy.”

It wasn’t only the talent of the filmmakers that made this film deserving of the honor, but also the dedication and organization that made the process run smoothly, sophomore Brandon Ferber, who was the short film’s sound director, said.

“The filmmaking process was extremely fun,” Ferber said. “We had to be organized and do our jobs but we all did our jobs well.”

The deadline to submit films for the festival was December 1, 2017 and the club was excited to find out they were selected January 17.

Having the students make festival films, and especially having a film get selected, has been a goal of Morabito’s and co-advisor Jimi DeStefano’s since the beginning of the club, Morabito said.

“We don't want to have their accomplishments go unnoticed. Also, to give students the opportunity to see what this path is like if they decided to study filmmaking further,” Morabito said. “Immediately, Jimi and I were thrilled when we found out we were accepted. We know how hard the kids worked and we are happy that the kids get to have the experience of being festival filmmakers.”

In addition to the club's advisors, board of education member David Schoner, who is also associate director of the NJ Motion Picture and Television Commission, is one of the film club's biggest fans.  

Schoner is especially proud of the progress the club has made over the last two years. The club had just eight students and no film made two years ago and grew to 15 students and two films made last year. Now, the club has 30 students and four films being made.

“I am beyond excited and thrilled for the Cedar Grove High School Film Club students. They worked so hard on the film ‘47 Years’ and put so much effort into it,” Schoner said. “I can’t thank enough Joe Morabito and Jimi DeStefano who are the clubs advisors.  They have gone beyond anything I would have imagined to engage the students and support them in this process."

For Warkentin, it was extra special since the filmmakers had to work really hard and even endure the cold and hail to create their film.

“It is hard to put into words how excited I am to see our film be showcased at the Garden State Film Fest, but I am very happy and excited to share the film with my family and friends,” she said. “I am so glad that I got the opportunity to work with the best crew, and I hope that the film club will produce many more top-quality films in the years to come.”

The Garden State Film Festival will be held March 22 to March 25 in Asbury Park. “47 Years,” along with three other CGHS films and four films from the Garden State Film Festival, will also be shown on May 11 at "Best of the Fest" at Cedar Grove High School. Information and tickets can be found at https://cghsfilm.ludus.com.

TAPinto Verona/Cedar Grove  is an online newspaper serving the Townships of Verona and Cedar Grove. TAPinto Verona/Cedar Grove is accredited by the New Jersey Press Association, and is a locally owned news organization serving the community.

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