IMAX releases BHS-made documentary about Elwha River dam removals

A film produced by Ballard High School’s filmmaking program about the Elwha River dam removal and its effect on the salmon population has been released as part of IMAX’s national In Focus program. Its release – available on IMAX’s and UN Environment’s websites – coincided with the United Nations’ World Environment Day.

BHS’s Digital Filmmaking Program was one of five “exemplary” programs chosen by the All American High School Film Festival in 2016 to receive a $5,000 grant from IMAX. They were asked to produce an eight-minute and four-minute documentary which would align with one of three sustainable development goals established by the UN in 2015: climate action, life below water, or life on land.

The film is titled On the Backs of Salmon, and tells the story of the ecosystem bounce-back following the removal of the Elwha River dams, which were built in 1911 and that had decimated the salmon population. The documentary features an interview with Russ Hepfer of the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe, who describes the importance of salmon to not only the tribe, but the whole Olympic Peninsula ecosystem. “This place was created on the backs of salmon,” Hepfer says in the film.

Other documentaries in the release include The Air We Breathe by Woodrow Wilson High School, Washington, D.C., about the health dangers posed by ozone pollution; Beyond the River of Grass by University School of Nova Southeastern University, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, about the Florida Everglades Restoration Project; Bee Conscious by Canyon Crest Academy, San Diego, about the critical role of the honeybee in sustaining human life; and Generation Zero Explores: Drinking Water by Mythic Bridge Youth Filmmaking Workshops, New York City, about the history of New York City’s tap water in contrast to other areas in the U.S. where lack of access to clean water is a critical issue.

To view all five films, visit the IMAX website.

BHS film students lead the pack at high school film festival

Ballard High School film students are celebrating a big win at a recent high school film festival, in which they claimed eleven awards and honors across seven different categories.

Hundreds of students from 24 schools around the region competed in the 19th annual Northwest High School Film Festival last week at Cinerama Theater, and BHS led the pack with the most wins from one school.

Transformative, a short documentary about the experience of a transgender teen, received honors at the festival and has also been awarded the Audience Award at the National Film Festival for Talented Youth (NFFTY) in the Come As You Are showcase.

Here are Ballard’s Northwest High School Film Festival winners by category:


Commercial: Meori Boxes by Chris Barrett, Emma Inge & Cecilia O’Rollins


  • 9066 by Nolan Baker, Maya Konz, Bailey Wall & Kajsa Woolford
  • Heart of Gold  by Miles Andersen, Josh Gaynor-Cote, Willow Hudson & Jesse Romero

Dramatic Narrative: Comeback by Avery Davis, Skala Leake, Aaron Miller & Cameron Miller

Public Service Announcement: Tater Towers by Max Beaulieu, Ellie Dynes & Nick Fay


Comedic Narrative

  • 4.No by PJ Hase, Brynn Miller & Isabella Warshaw
  • Next by Owen McGranaghan, Jesse Romero & Kajsa Woolford
  • Hydromance by Leo Pfeifer, Krystelle Kurz & Evan Wallace

Documentary: Transformative by Mo Brown, Claire Elliott, Sorcha Marron & Krystelle Kurz.

News or Sports Feature: Still a Winner by Elliott Atkinson, Jonathan Bowers & Veronica Redpath

Satire/Parody/Mockumentary: Fat Friday: Two Men, Two Hours, and Two Hundred Chicken McNuggets by Chris Barrett, Jessica Luecke & Zoe Zellig

The students’ films will be shown at the end-of-semester Ballard Film Festival on Saturday, June 17 at 7pm. Tickets will be sold at the door, and are $5 for students and $10 for adults. For more information, visit the BHS film program website.


Festival selects BHS Filmmaking Program for IMAX grant

Ballard High School’s Digital Filmmaking Program was one of five “exemplary” programs chosen by the All American High School Film Festival to receive a $5,000 “In Focus” grant from IMAX.

The All American High School Film Festival is the largest high school film festival in the nation, drawing competition from all across the country.  The announcement was made Friday, October 7, during the festival’s Opening Night ceremonies in New York City.

Partnering with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the “In Focus” initiative is a component of IMAX “Big Picture”, the corporate social responsibility program created to leverage the power of film to mobilize action and effect positive change.

The five selected student film programs will create short films that raise awareness of the UN’s 2030 sustainability agenda, creating original content to specifically address at least one of the UN’s following development goals:

  • Climate action, which calls for efforts to stem greenhouse gas emissions, which scientists cite as a major factor in the earth’s changing weather patterns, rising sea levels and extreme weather events.
  • Life below water, encouraging people, enterprises and nations to conserve and sustainably use oceans, seas and marine resources.  According to the UN, some 3 billion people depend on marine and coastal biodiversity for their livelihoods.
  • Life on land, encouraging people, enterprises and nations to sustainably manage forests, and halt and reverse land degradation.  According to the UN, forests account for a third of the earth’s surface, highlighting the global imperative to reverse deforestation.

“This effort provides an opportunity for aspiring filmmakers to elevate their work to a higher platform and work with new film technology, while encouraging them to use film to effect change and social improvement,” said Richard Gelfond, IMAX CEO.

The All American High School Film Festival has a distinguished jury, including screenwriter Diablo Cody, documentary filmmaker Morgan Spurlock, and actors Kristen Stewart and Dylan McDermott.  Official Selections to the festival are also eligible for awards.

Last year, films by BHS Digital Filmmaking students were finalists for Best Screenplay, Best Directing, Best Drama, and Best Documentary – in addition to two of their productions becoming finalists for Best Overall Film.

The honored films from last year can be viewed on the BHS Digital Filmmaking Program’s vimeo page.

This year’s festival features 10 productions by 21 students in the BHS Digital Filmmaking Program.

Congratulations again to all involved in the BHS Digital Filmmaking Program!

Academy nominates Ballard Film Students for National Awards

Ballard High School students are among those nominated by The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences for their National Student Production Awards.

The nominees were selected from winners at regional Emmy Awards ceremonies across the country. Four productions by students in Ballard High School’s Digital Filmmaking Program won top prizes in the five-state Northwest Region last June. Three of these productions have now been nominated at the national level.

The Northwest Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (NATAS) has presented High School Awards of Excellence for years to celebrate and promote the most outstanding high school television productions from five Northwest states: Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana and Alaska.  This year the Academy added a national level to the competition.

Check out the BHS nominees below:

  •  The Dragon’s Lair by PJ Hase, Jonny Cechony & Ellie Clarrissimeaux is nominated for Best Short Film.
  • Today by Coleman Andersen, PJ Hase and Bergen Johnson is nominated for best Music Video
  • Miles Andersen, Emily Black, Sophie DeGreen, Jesse Romero and Sho Schrock are nominated for best Editor for their work on Hologram

All of the nominated productions can be viewed on the Digital Filmmaking Program’s vimeo page.

The awards presentation will be held at the Newseum in Washington, DC, at 12:30 p.m. (EST) on October 4.  The event will be streamed live online.

BHS Films to compete at National Festival

Ten films by twenty-one students in the Ballard High School Digital Filmmaking Program have been named Official Selections of the All American High School Film Festival.

This festival is the largest high school film festival in the world and receives entries from high school filmmakers throughout the country.

The event runs from October 7 – 9 in New York City at the New York Society for Ethical Culture, AMC Theatres Times Square, and the historic Kings Theater.

The films were evaluated by prestigious judges such as screenwriter Diablo Cody, documentary filmmaker Morgan Spurlock, and actors Kristen Stewart and Dylan McDermott.

The Official Selections are eligible for awards in a number of categories.  Awards will be presented at the Teen Indie Awards at the conclusion of the festival.

Check out the list of Official Selections by Ballard High School Digital Filmmaking students below:

  • Comedy
    • Criminal Design by Miles Anderson, Jonathan Bowers, Jonny Cechony, PJ Hase & Cecilia O’Rollins
  • Documentary
    • GeoFORCE: A Journey to Understanding by Leo Pfeifer & Raven Two Feathers
    • Raven Rock by Rachel Cole, Jaya Flanary & Meagen Tajalle
  • Drama
    • Comeback by Avery Davis, Skala Leake, Aaron Miller & Cameron Miller
    • Anne by Rachel Cole, Jaya Flanary & Meagen Tajalle
  • Music Video
    • Big Coat by Jaya Flanary, Duncan Gowdy & Leo Pfeifer
    • Voices by Aurore Bouriot, Jonathan Bowers, Brian Cropp & Jake Rehfeldt
  • PSA
    • Protect Your Hearing by Elliott Atkinson, Cyrus Ogle & Bailey Wall

Two pieces produced independently by BHS film students also made the festival. Climate Change by Leo Pfeifer and Meagen Tajalle is an Official Selection in the PSA category, and Moving Forward by Leo Pfeifer will compete for the Josten’s Project Yearbook prize.

Many of these productions can be viewed on the BHS Digital Filmmaking Program’s vimeo page. Click here to learn more about the Ballard High School Digital Filmmaking Program.

Congratulations, once again, to all involved in the BHS Digital Filmmaking Program from the My Ballard team!