Brooks Middle School student film wins international festival award

2/28/2017, 3:40 p.m.
A film created in a Brooks Middle School 6th grade art class is drawing international attention after it was declared ...
Brooks Middle School Visual Arts Key leader Charlie McDermott displays the international film festival award won by a short film created by Taylor Cobb (left) and Sofia Santiago.

A film created in a Brooks Middle School 6th grade art class is drawing international attention after it was declared a first prize winner in Cabramatta, Australia's Sunshine Short Film Festival.

"When I found out we won, I was like whoa," said now 7th-grader Taylor Cobb who came up with the idea for the film. "We just put this together for fun to show everybody at school and then we won an international contest. That's really cool."

"I was confused when I heard about it," added Sofia Santiago, who co-produced and co-directed the film with Cobb. "I didn't think it could win a contest."

It all started last year as a classroom assignment from Brooks Visual Arts Key Leader Charlie McDermott who asked his students to partner up and come up with creative stop motion video project ideas.

"I had an idea for the film, but didn't have the creative aspect of it," Cobb said. "I knew Sofia is really good with that so we decided to work together."

Santiago, who hopes to be an animator someday, and Cobb, who has designs on becoming either a chef or an undercover narcotics agent, came up with an ingenious project that utilized both stop motion and forced perspective photography. They called it "I (Heart) Art".

The concept was so good, their classmates voted to produce their film, spending three class periods last year taking still shots with a tiny point-and-shoot camera.

"It was like how are we going to fit this all into one film?" Cobb said, sounding every bit like a bigtime movie director. "So we decided instead of doing it all together, we used different transitions to make it fun instead of boring."

McDermott helped edit the still shots into one cohesive film and showed it to students and a few staff members. But, at the time, he had no idea it was good enough to be an international film festival winner.

"Looking at all the films my classes made last year, this was far and away the coolest one," he said.

Last fall, Brooks Principal Dr. Keith Wood (perhaps jokingly?) alerted McDermott to a call for entries in the Cabramatta Film Festival sponsored by Cabramatta School in New South Wales, which is a southwest suburb of Sydney, Australia. McDermott figured why not? So he entered the Cobb/Santiago film.