When Long Tran was a kid, he thought filmmaking was for lucky people, people blessed to create films.
But now, with some recent film festival wins under his belt, the Renton High School senior is ready to take on the world of movie-making and pursue it as a career.
In May, Tran took home an Award of Excellence from the 2015 Northwest High School Film Festival for his film “Continuity.” It was one of the top films in the “satire, mockumentary and parody” category. Tran calls “Continuity” a spoof film and play on keeping things the same when shooting a movie.
“It’s a film about breaking rules basically, breaking the rules of film and making fun of filmmaking,” he said.
Tran, along with students from 20 to 25 other high schools, watched their entries play out on the big screen at the Cinerama in Seattle on May 19. Every year the film festival receives 200 to 300 entries, which are judged by a panel of film and video professionals. The students receive feedback on their productions and the chance to place in the awards ceremony. Some productions go on to take prizes at national and international festivals.
During the festival, Tran also received honorable mention for three more of his works: “Max,” a drama; “Trapped,” a documentary on a transgender student and “Camera,” in which Tran starred as well as directed.
“It was cool to see my film on the big screen; it was huge,” he said.
Tran discovered filmmaking in Renton High teacher Susan Johnson’s video-production class. His curiosity took off from there and he began to learn the trade more outside of class.
“I’m really impressed with the speed at which he learned film,” said Johnson.
Johnson noticed Tran’s interest in the moving image when he took her graphic design class. So she turned him on to a video program called After Effects and he liked it, she said.
“And so when he started, his videos were terrible; there was no story,” Johnson said. “But the amount of growth that he has had is just phenomenal.”
Johnson has her students submit entries to the Renton FilmFrenzy most years too. Tran has received second place in the student division of that festival as well. Johnson acts as a gate keeper to the Northwest High School Film Festival, only allowing the best of her students’ productions to be entered.
“There’s some really good work out there so I want to make sure we’re not wasting the judges time by looking at videos that aren’t very good,” she said.
Johnson is trying to plan a mini film festival at Renton High School to showcase all of the students’ films.
As for Tran, he has his sights set on a future in the industry.
“I didn’t know where my life was headed and really in high school I’ve found what I’m supposed to do for the rest of my life,” Tran said. “And I believe filmmaking is what I should do for the rest of my life.”