They won't be rolling out the red carpet but there will be plenty to take in as Wesley Chapel High presents its 12th annual student film festival on Friday at the school's Center for the Arts. With two showings (one held during the day for students and another in the evening that is open to the public), the festival promises to deliver a bang for the $3 ticket, with short offerings of comedy, tragedy and parody intertwined with a little live entertainment and the traditional "Wesley" awards doled out in off-beat Oscar fashion, sans acceptance speeches.
Five out of the 25 nine-minute films entered in the contest have made the final cut: Paradise Island, Hopelessly Unique, Endurance, For the Love of Butter and 3 Days, 12 Hours, 4 Minutes.
It's been a traditional hands- off assignment for drama teacher Sean Gaudet, who hands out guidelines and deadlines, then sends students packing to figure it out on their own.
"It's a lot of work," said Jessica Courchene, 18, who was on the crew creating Paradise Island, a story of shipwreck survival that was filmed at Dunedin's Honeymoon Island. "They're only nine-minute movies, but it takes forever to put it all together."
Even so, the process has gotten easier for this YouTube generation.
The festival has come a long way in the years since it was first conceived by Gaudet, who wanted to come up with something new and appealing for his students.
"I love drama, but when kids think of drama, they think of movies," he said.
Back then Gaudet was screening clunky VHS movies that were filmed and edited on campus. Today's students are more media savvy. Most come equipped with their own hand-held cameras and head out on location, whether it be the beach, a cemetery or someone's house where they can also self-edit on home computers.
"It's a lot easier now. The quality is way different — better," said Taylor Gonzalez, 16, who starred in the tragic love story, 3 Days, 12 Hours. 4 Minutes.
While these films might look different than those of past years, the real-world lessons behind the annual contest remain the same.
"I don't know if you can think of any job out there where you don't have to work with people and play nicely," Gaudet said. "There's accountability and personal responsibility. And as happens, some groups implode and some groups click. And some groups learn from their experience."