Freshman Ava Lerner featured in NJ High School Film Challenge


Erica Schindler, Online EIC

For many high school students, an average school week might consist of class, work, extracurriculars and time with friends and family. But for one week in April, Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School freshman Ava Lerner spent her time creating a short film for the New Jersey High School Film Challenge.


The film challenge had a couple guidelines; among them were that Lerner and the other participants had to create a film no longer than three minutes long that fit the prompt “Connection.” Lerner’s idea for her film, titled “Real Connections”, was inspired by her own recent experience of losing internet connection.


“I made my film about a girl who is obsessed with her devices and the internet, but one day loses internet connection,” Lerner said. “During that time she has to find things to do that don’t require the internet. When the internet comes back she realizes that she enjoyed herself so much more doing things that didn’t require internet…”


With the challenge being only five days long, completing everything that needed to be done for the film proved to be stressful. Lerner had to write a script, film and edit “Real Connections” by herself all within a short time frame. Lerner did everything except act in the film, and while stressful, it turned out to be a rewarding experience.


“By the end of the week I was feeling like the week had been one of the most stressful I’ve had in a while,” Lerner said. “However, it was also an exciting process because from putting the idea on paper to cutting the film together I got to see the entire thing be created, which is pretty cool.”


Throughout the course of the film challenge, Lerner participated in filmmaking workshops in addition to working on her own short film. At the end of the five-day challenge, Lerner and the other participants were featured in a virtual screening of all of their short films. According to Lerner, it was inspiring to see the film projects made by the other students.


Despite being stressful at times, Lerner says that there was a lot to gain out of the experience of participating in the NJ High School Film Challenge. Lerner is considering entering the challenge again next year and would recommend that other high school students do the same if they are willing to put in the time and effort.


“Just getting to see the film that I had put all of this work into being shared as a final product was really rewarding and a great feeling of excitement,” Lerner said.