New Media tackles New York


Isabel Wiesner

You can call me cheesy or say I’m over-exaggerating, but I’m not lying when I say that the New Media trip to New York was easily the craziest and coolest thing I’ve ever done. It’s been over a week since our plane finally landed back in Chicago, but I can’t stop thinking about the amazing experiences I got to have with such a great group of people.

The purpose of the trip was to have some New Media juniors and seniors travel to New York to participate in the All American High School Film Festival (AAHSFF). The festival included many different categories of video, but we entered in the three-day challenge, which required us to create a five to six minute video that was entirely shot in New York… in only three days!

Fortunately, a lot of the pre-production could be done before we left for New York, which we found out after reading over 30 pages of competition rules. Seniors Andrew Rempala, Kate Stephenson, Nick Wnuk, and junior Caroline Zeeman worked through 15 different drafts to come up with our final script, The Art of Strawberry Ice Cream.

The film centers around high school senior Valerie as she nvigates her hectic life in New York. When she gets broken up with and sent home from her internship, Valerie finds comfort in her younger sister, Molly, and their memories of eating strawberry ice cream as children. Through this simple experience, Valerie learns the importance of slowing down and taking some time for yourself.

After creating many spreadsheets, searching for locations on Google Maps, and making several trips to Tala, it was finally time to leave for New York.

The night before our flight, I was super anxious, yet excited at the same time. I had never been to New York before, and I was terrified of getting lost on the busy streets or the subway. I had also never been on any of those school trips to Washington, DC or Italy, and I was nervous to be traveling with a group of people who I didn’t really know that well.

In New Media, the projects you work on are determined by how many semesters you’ve taken the class. If you have taken more than one semester, you’re considered “advanced.” I took New Media one semester each of freshman and sophomore year, and now I’m a third semester junior, which means that I was younger and less experienced than the other students on the trip.

At first, I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to contribute as much to the project, or that I would be lost and confused while we were creating it. However, what I learned through this experience was that it’s okay to step back and learn from others.

As someone who is interested in going to college for film production and production design, it was amazing being on set and learning from everyone else. I was, and am, continually impressed by how organized, focused, and passionate everyone was about creating The Art of Strawberry Ice Cream, and I’ll never forget those frantic three days of shooting and editing.

We overcame so many challenges throughout the process, and I think this really brought us together as a team. Even though we had prepared so much before arriving in New York, I learned that despite all of this there will always be unforeseen challenges to face.

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Unpopular opinion, but New York is a way more exciting city than Chicago (if only because of Times Square).

Probably one of my favorite parts of the trip was shooting the scenes in the apartment, because I feel like this location gave us the most challenges. We had to cover up windows with shirts and blankets, and hold up a floor-length mirror to reflect light away from the shot to get it looking perfect.

Another favorite moment of the trip was when Zeeman, junior Natalie Snodgrass, senior Kate Stephenson, and I had to record sound effects back at the hotel. There’s a hilarious video somewhere of us trying to get the sound of a bell ringing just right, with me standing on the bed and holding up pillows to block the excess noise of the air conditioner.

New Media tackles New York
At the AMC Theater in Times Square after seeing our film on the big screen.

These might seem like insignificant little details, but to me they are moments that I’ll never forget. Overcoming these challenges in order to create a film that we’re all incredibly proud of brought us together as friends during these six days, and I’m still amazed by how well we worked as a team.

Even though we had the opportunity to shoot at amazing locations like Grand Central Station and Central Park, and were able to go on a tour of CNN and even meet Anderson Cooper, the part of the trip that has stuck with me the most is the collaboration and friendship that came from it, and whenever I watch our final video I am reminded of this incredible experience.

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Shooting the break-up scene in Central Park.

Thank you to New Media teacher Steve Douglass for giving all of us (myself, Andrew Rempala, Caroline Zeeman, Kate Stephenson, Natalie Snodgrass, Michael Pasquella, Nick Wnuk, Chris Zitko, Jalen Robinson, and Tyler Neander) this experience, and for allowing us to create our film.

Check out The Art of Strawberry Ice Cream on the LFHS New Media Facebook page: