Performing Arts Program Takes Home Film Awards

Juniors and seniors received the Best Home-Grown Student Short award for their film. (Photo courtesy Freehold Regional School District)

  HOWELL – As the 2022-23 school year begins to wrap up, the hard work of Howell High School’s Fine and Performing Arts Center program students has paid off at the film festival circuit.

  The Garden State Film Festival celebrates the independent film genre and gives the opportunity for local and other independent filmmakers to exhibit their work.

  At the 2023 Garden State Film Festival, a team of juniors and seniors in the Music, Video, and Production (MVP) program received the Best Home-Grown Student Short award for their film, “She Gazed Into the Mirror and The Sun Stared Back.”

  Directed by Meaghan Krantz, the 10-minute short stars EmmaLynne DeRoss (who also produced the piece) as Luna, a girl seeking personal fulfillment in New York City.

  “The project was prepared in New Jersey during the months leading up to the October kickoff and was shot and edited over three days as part of the 2022 All-American High School Film Festival’s Three-Day Invitational,” officials said.

  In addition, Krantz and editor Ella Lambiase had won Best Home-Grown Romance Short for their silent film “Maya! The Musical.” The two were co-directors on the project and teamed up with “She Gazed” talent Andre Paras, Trenton Konopack, and Clover Otero to create the film.

  “Maya! The Musical” tells the story of a girl who dreams of embracing the spotlight and the stage but is hesitant to take the leap.

Howell won Best Home-Grown Romance Short, being the school’s second straight win in this category. (Photo courtesy Freehold Regional School District)

  This achievement is Howell High School’s second straight win in this Garden State Film Festival category. The school also screened three other films at the Berkley Hotel.

  Just before spring break, the students discovered that “Maya! The Musical” had scored even more awards, winning the Jury Prize at the Kent Place Film Festival.

  “These students are filmmakers with something important to say,” Howell FPAC video instructor Scott Napolitano said. “They plan out every detail, they know when to improvise in the moment, and overcome major production obstacles to make these stories a reality. These festival wins reflect the kind of ingenuity and skills they possess.”

  Within the past 10 years, Napolitano’s students have screened projects over 150 times at nearly 50 festivals, winning 60 awards in seven countries on three continents.