Young filmmaker’s short ‘Lost’ honored at Kids Film It Festival

A still from Lucas Pierce's film "Lost", which takes place in the Torrey Pines Reserve Extension.

Del Mar 14-year-old Lucas Pierce has turned a new hobby picked up during the pandemic into a passion for movie making. The fledgling filmmaker’s debut short film “Lost” was nominated for best film in the 12 to 14-year-old age group of the Kids Film It Festival, winning runner-up in a category that included four films from around the world.

Lucas wrote, directed, filmed and edited the movie, as well as taking on a supporting actor role alongside his little brother JJ who served as the film’s star. For the virtual award ceremony on March 5, Lucas and JJ walked a red carpet at home together before hearing the surprising results of Lucas’ first-ever film festival.

“I was really excited, I didn’t know I was going to go that far,” said Lucas, 14.

The Kids Film It Festival was founded in 2016 by then 12-year-old Ryan Levine, giving young filmmakers the opportunity to showcase their work with all of the proceeds going to the Michael J. Fox Foundation to benefit Parkinson’s disease research. Last year’s event raised over $83,000 for the cause.

JJ and Lucas Pierce walk the red carpet at the virtual Kids Film It Festival.

This year there were over 140 films submitted from kids ranging in ages from 8-18 from around the world and Lucas’ film was the only nominated film from California. The other four nominees in his age group were from India, Sweden, Virginia and Ohio.

Lucas is an eighth grader at Earl Warren Middle School and in a normal year he would usually be spending the majority of his time playing ice hockey.

“When COVID hit all of my sports were shut down so there was not much to do,” Lucas said. “ I watched a lot of movies so it inspired me to make one of my own.”

He started making movies with an iPhone but soon bought his own Canon DSLR camera with money he saved from surfing lessons. Around October of last year he started looking for a film festival to participate in. The Kids Film It rules called for a five-minute film and Lucas took about five days to write it, penning a part for his 9-year-old brother—he had used JJ in previous projects and discovered the kid had natural talent.

“He’s easy to direct,” Lucas said.

“He’s easy to work with,” JJ offered while adding playfully: “He can be bossy.”

“Lost” tells the story of two brothers on a daytime trek. The older brother packs his little brother on the back of his bike to show him their mother’s favorite hike. The little brother, played sweetly by JJ, winds up getting lost and uses an old compass and his brother’s words to help guide him back home.

The action takes place mostly on the secluded trails of the Torrey Pines Reserve Extension: “We love it so when I was starting to make the short film I decided that’s where the setting should be,” he said.

While it was a fairly cloudy day when they shot it, Lucas was able to achieve a “colder look” by adding extra fog in post production. Locals will recognize the scenic views, the rustic little wooden bridge as well as scenes on Cordero Court and Del Mar Heights Road.

Lucas Pierce

The hardest part was moving around and scouting locations. The day before shooting Lucas was running around the canyon looking for spots and the most interesting angles.

Del Mar neighborhood friends Sebastian Nudleman and Julien Cronin helped with the sound and Lucas’ brother Sebastian also pitched in during the filmmaking process. When it came to a soundtrack, Lucas looked through his dad’s CDs and found an artist he liked named Carlos Forster. He emailed Forster and received permission to use his music in one of his short films—two of the San Francisco musician’s songs are featured in the film.

“It’s been a fun experience,” Lucas said.

With his first festival film wrapped (with over 800 views on YouTube), Lucas is working on his next feature which he plans to be more of a drama.

“I’ve also been experimenting with mysteries and horror movies,” he said.

He plans to take a film elective when he is a freshman at Pacific Ridge School next year.

To watch “Lost” visit