And the award goes to … Teen filmmaker wins ‘best director’ at local festival

KENT COUNTY, Mich. – Tanner Hamilton may be young, but he has a lot of ambition, and he recently won a big award at the Kent County Teen Film Festival.

The festival is open to all Kent County teenagers between grades 6 and 12. This year, there were 26 entries submitted.

The winner for best director went to Tanner, 15, for his short film “Voices."

"I never thought that something like this would happen to me,” said Tanner, who's a freshman at Northview High School. "Amazing. It makes me feel like I can keep doing what I'm doing and knowing that I can actually succeed."

Tanner and his friends recently formed Daredevil Studios. They shot the movie "Voices" last summer, then spent weeks editing it.

"It's about five minutes long,” says Tanner. “It's shot almost entirely in black and white. It tells the story of this kid named Kane, who's had these sort of  strange abilities that whenever he gets angry or confused or upset, weird things just start happening. He might cause time to freeze for a few seconds or cause a plate to shatter on the table."

Tanner received a trophy, some gift cards and a membership to the Community Media Center. However, he says the best prize is the recognition of his work as a filmmaker.

Tanner has grown up around cameras. His father, T.J., is a former photojournalist who worked at FOX 17.

"It makes me incredibly proud to see how far he's come in just a few short years," said T.J. "I'm learning from him now: how to do motion stuff that he's doing in Final Cut. I don't tend to work with that on a daily basis. But I see the stuff he's doing, and I'm like 'Wow, that's impressive.'"

Along with his father, Tanner says a quote from Hollywood director, James Cameron helps motivate him.

"Pick up a camera and just start shooting something. It doesn't matter what it is, or how bad it is, it just matters that you're making something," said Tanner.  "And as soon as you make something, you can improve upon it and just keep improving. It can be with an iPhone; it can be with your mom's old video camera in the basement. It doesn't matter, just try and make something."

The other winners at the film festival were:

  • Best Cinematography: Maya Hutchings (Dark Space)
  • Best Ensemble: The Frank Family (Don't Be Nice)
  • Best Editing: Jake Bieniewicz (Sleepless)
  • Best Actor: Luke McGee (Life of Paul)
  • Best Actress: Madison Tasker (Two Cries Heard in the Night)
  • Up and Coming Actress: Celeste Frank (Don't Be Nice)
  • Best Screenplay: Kevin Cobb and Carson O'Brien (A Human Film)
  • Best Live Action Short: Kevin Cobb and Carson O'Brien (A Human Film)Best Documentary: Brian LeClair (Our City)
  • People's Choice: Celeste Frank (Don't Be Nice)
  • Best Commercial: Caleb Rosses & Danny Gucci (The Last Pack of Noodles)
  • Best Animation: Ezra Moreno (Dragonchist Act I)

If you'd like to take part in the 2018 Festival, entries can be submitted beginning October 1.

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