Senior Elias Rivera, Jr. cannot imagine his life without art. He loves to write and this semester alone he is taking film study class while serving as a staff photographer and entertainment editor of the Viator Voice. But he also is immersed in art outside the classroom walls.
Three years ago, Elias started his own production studio, THISKID, and together with his Saint Viator classmates, he is committed to producing all forms of art including photography, film, and poetry.
Now, his work is drawing notice. His latest short film, “Waves,” was named an official selection finalist in the 2016 All-American High School Film Festival in New York City. With more than 1,850 submissions, the festival is the largest international high school film festival in the world.
This year’s entries are coming from 40 states across the country, as well as from Iran, the Czech Republic, Ireland, Turkey, Chile, Norway, Singapore, New Zealand, Israel and Denmark.
It is only the third film for Elias and the first one he has submitted to a film festival. It was filmed on location near his home on the Northwest side of Chicago, and he says he was so immersed in every detail on the set that he never thought it would earn recognition.
“Getting this kind of validation, from such a prestigious film festival, means everything to me,” Elias says.
Elias’ film was submitted in the drama category, and will be screened and evaluated by a panel of industry judges. The three-day film festival runs Oct. 7-9, and Elias plans to attend.
The seven-minute short film takes a quick look at coming of age questions that go through the mind of a graduating senior, called Waves by his friends. Zac Jones ’17 stars as the lead character and his co-stars include Peter Beiswenger ’18 and Aria Bernardi ’17.
Crew members include a trio of alumni, Erin McDermott 16, Kevin Nolan ’16 and Maya Nudo 16, as well as current upperclassmen Sheila Cavanagh ’17, Bryan Rapala ’17 and Matt Wear ’18.
Beyond having his work evaluated, Elias will have the chance to meet with more than 20 college representatives interested in up and coming filmmakers, and he can compete for some of the $400,000 available in scholarships and awards to high school filmmakers.
Tom Oliva, one of the co-founders, says they created the festival to establish a premier destination for young filmmakers, where they could connect with other resources and receive the recognition they deserve.
“These students are not just filmmakers,” Oliva says, “they are true entrepreneurs who work tirelessly throughout the year to create art with purpose that inspires on every level.”