Demand the best 

Texas’ high-school football coaches have known for years the secret to spurring social evolution, something Darwin only vaguely hinted at: Find an activity that kids enjoy, then turn it into an all-out competition with clear winners and losers. That way only the best and strongest will propagate the species while the others will become bitter shut-ins reduced to making sarcastic comments about Justin Bieber to their still-in-the-box collection of Deep Space 9 action figures. It sounds harsh, but we have to get film critics from somewhere.

In much the same way, Time-Warner Cable and Northwest Vista College are helping to develop our local film scene with the New Vistas in Media Competition. From now until July 31 (that’s Friday — so hurry), TWC digital subscribers can tune to channel 988, San Antonio on Demand, to watch and vote on a selection of short films produced by local high-school and college filmmakers. Entrants in four categories — animation, documentary, experimental, and narrative — are competing for a $250 best-in-category prize and a $750 best-in-show prize. Normally, we’d suggest you watch them all and decide for yourself, but in this contest, each viewing counts as a vote, meaning watching them all is equivalent to awarding everybody one of those namby-pamby participation certificates, which I’m pretty sure is what eventually killed off the Neanderthals. So I got all League of Women Voters and provided you with a guide to the films so you’ll only vote for the ones you really want to see. Let the ego-crushing begin! •


“Give the Dog a Bone”
Current critic’s choice. St. Mary’s Hall High School’s Ed Kelley directs a voice-cast of several in this claymation short. A mad scientist/pet owner cooks up some dog treats with unintended side effects.

“Research & Develop”
Current critic’s choice. Riley Metcalfe from North East School of the Arts animates a sobering scenario of stick-figure arms escalation that begins with the weaponization of an algebra equation and concludes the only way these things will ever come to an end, God help us all.

“FSSA Logo Project”
Jacklyn Harmon and Krystal Solano create a professional-looking animated logo for Harlandale High School’s Film School of San Antonio. It’s less than a minute long, but fair warning for those traumatized by The Wizard of Oz: There is a flying monkey involved.


“Alex Rubio”
This mini-doc from Say Si’s Sergio Ramos and Emileigh Potter features the titular local artist discussing the theories and techniques behind his life’s work.

“Counting Sheep”
The Communication Arts magnet program at Taft High School asks the question “How are you doing, tired-wise?” and postulates the average teenager falls way short of the nine hours of sleep doctors recommend. Jack Coll goes 48 hours without sleep to prove some point or other.

The Sleep Project
A team from St. Mary’s ups the ante on “Counting Sheep” by providing more interviews with medical professionals on the effects of sleep deprivation and making poor Harneet Kaur stay awake for 72 hours. Where are these kids’ parents?


“Carbon Copy”
Fernanda Chavez and Megan Padgett of the North East School of the Arts shot a music video for SA rock band Panic the Brave. Pseudo-performance footage is intercut with brief bits of animation and those weirdly angled art shots that music-video directors are so fond of.

Say Si’s Julian Aniel condenses a day spent in and around downtown San Antonio into two minutes of fast-motion, notable for Julian’s emphasis on people in addition to traffic and architecture.


“Gold Sniper”
College kids get to play with guns — and cigarettes. Northwest Vista’s Brad Nelson and Juan Morales concoct a wordless tale of murder, duplicity, and dirt bikes that’s probably better thought out than that new A-Team movie.

Current critic’s choice. Vher Deonon, Maria Huapaya, and Nicole Mendoza present a sleek Daft Punk-style robot’s quest to win the lady he falls instantly in love with via bending some stuff.

“Mary is not a normal teenager,” begins this narrative short by Harlandale’s Janie Zepeda. Mary was born with two left feet, preventing her from wearing sandals without embarrassment or walking to class without going in circles

“Tales from the Eastside”
Isaac Rodriguez is the auteur behind Northwest Vista’s only talkie entry: a tale of lost love that finds Mark Recio waking up in a cemetery, his pockets full of dirt and worms. Rodriguez achieves a sense of surreal disorientation by using AfterEffects to jack up the vertical hold a whole bunch. How does anyone under 30 even know what that is?

“Werewolf Assimilation”
Another wordless entry from Northwest Vista. Robert Burns Jr. directs this film about a lonely werewolf (Mason Hunsicker) who fails to fit in on a college campus despite a wicked set of canines and a pretty killer Evil Dead tracking shot. Teen Wolf lied to us all.

“What Happened”
St. Mary’s Hall’s sobering PSA on abusive relationships ends this column on a total down note.



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