Canyon Crest Academy gearing up for Student Film Festival in Carmel Valley


As another school year at Canyon Crest Academy draws to a close, the film department is holding its annual Student Film Festival on May 30, which acts as a last hurrah for graduating seniors and shows off what students have been learning and working on throughout the past year.

“The talent in our school and program is unbelievable,”said Mark Raines, the Envision Cinema coordinator at Canyon Crest. “This is a chance for us to showcase the best films that students create throughout the year. The submission process was open to the entire student body — any student can submit. We try to screen as many as possible.”

Raines, who began teaching at Canyon Crest Academy six years ago, has not only seen the film festival grow in the intervening time, but the film department and school in general.

“It’s been really exciting seeing it evolve each year. Every school year, the number of both the students who sign up for classes and the festivals we get our films into increases,” Raines said. “What’s also really cool is that besides the growth of the program, you get to see today’s seniors mentoring and teaching each class of students behind them. A lot of the work we do relies on groups and teams, and the longer the program exists the more you can rely on that.”

The Student Film Festival is also a chance to bring home CCA-produced films which have only previously been publicly seen at other festivals around the region. Just recently, the student film “Milquetoast” won big at the Encinitas Film Festival, and both Canyon Crest film and television productions took home prizes at the San Diego County Office of Education’s IVIE (or Innovative Video in Education) Awards.

“If they continue to work at their craft, there are a lot of students in our program who will have a major influence in the film and television industry in the future,” predicts Raines. “I can’t even just pick one student who’s a standout. I feel like they’ve raised the bar, even in the content of the films this year. These students are creating amazing works of art that don’t go the low road. A lot of the low-brow, violent things they see in movies and television are not making it into the films produced at the school. ”

It’s no wonder Raines has such praise for his students this year — many seniors have already been accepted into the top film schools in the country, including prestigious programs at New York University, UCLA, USC, and Chapman University — all of which have Canyon Crest Academy alumni attending as well.

Each film at this year’s festival fits into four specific categories: drama, comedy, documentary, and music video. There will be awards (donated by parents) given to the best of each category, as well as prizes for a People’s Choice award and Overall Winner. Above all else, Raines says the only thing audiences should expect is to see pure creativity on display. “These students have the talent to make films that are both artistic and marketable,” Raines said. “And it shows.”

The Canyon Crest Academy Student Film Festival takes place May 30 at 7 p.m. at CCA’s Proscenium Theater. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students; all proceeds go back into the film program.