Lufkin High School A/V students Faith Clark, left, and Cherlyric Garrett, second from right, stand with actor/producer Keenan Ivory Wayans, center, during the Austin Film Festival in late October. (Photo by MIKE McHANEY/Lufkin High School)


By HALEY YOUNG/Lufkin High School Journalism 101

“Be careful what you ask a film kid,” Lufkin High School Audio/Visual teacher Mike McHaney joked during a press conference about the trip that eight of his students took to the Austin Film Festival in late October.

Micah Bonnin, Henry Buruca, Faith Clark, Cherlyric Garrett, Matthew Kitchens, Eliana Padilla, Maria Venegas and Tre Wade all earned a badge to the festival by submitting a winning essay.

Clark, Kitchens and McHaney talked about the trip during the press conference in a Journalism 101 class this past week.

Lufkin High School A/V students Eliana Padilla, Maria Venegas, Henry Buruca, Matthew Kitchens and Cherlyric Garrett stand with John August, writer of “Corpse Bride” and “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” after hearing him speak about scriptwriting.

Clark, an LHS senior, said she wants to do anything and everything she can in the film business. When asked about her reason for wanting to go to the festival, she said, “They were, like, ‘Writers are going to be there.’ What’s the best place for creativity besides a writer’s room, because they pretty much make up the whole story? So it’d be really fun to hear what the people who created this world have going on in their heads.”

Kitchens, also a senior, said he wants to become either an actor, game designer or musician. He shared some of the knowledge he learned from panelists at the festival.

“One dude said you should start a story by creating the characters,” Kitchens said. “That’s actually a really good point, because a lot of times you can’t have a story; it’s just a story. You have to go with what they want. Then, another dude said most script problems are ‘want’ problems; so you can pause any picture, and if it doesn’t look like you can tell what everyone wants, then you’re doing something wrong.”

One interesting experience the students had was the opportunity to see a new action movie starring Ethan Hawke called “24 Hours to Live.” They described the movie as amazing with incredible sound. After the screening of the movie, they got to listen to the director talk about what it was like making the movie.

Clark and Kitchens agreed that it was the best movie they saw at the festival.

“I’m going to go see it when it comes out,” Kitchens said, “and I’ve already seen it. And that is saying something.”

One of the things that make such a trip so valuable is the people you met. For these students, they got to meet the people who are successful in the film industry. A couple of these were Keenan Ivory Wayans, the creator of “In Living Color” and producer of the first two “Scary Movie” films, and the man who wrote the Johnny Depp version of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.”

Clark shared some insight into how the trip impacted her.

“Honestly, it was part of being something bigger than yourself, like a creative hub of movies and people talking about their ideas,” she said. “We literally saw a woman ask someone if they’d read her script for a TV show — and they did it. Now, she’s probably going to get a TV show, and that’s super dope.”

Clark and Kitchens agreed that they were so happy they could go to the Austin Film Festival. It was the best of both worlds — fun and educational. From the head-sized pizza slices at Home Slice Pizza to talking to the professionals, it was an experience they will not forget.


Lufkin High School Journalism 101 students interview educator Mike McHaney and students Faith Clark and Matthew Kitchens during a press conference last week. (Photo by ANDY ADAMS/Lufkin ISD)