Morristown High School students had just One Chance…and it won!

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Your assignment: Spend one week creating a three-minute movie called One Chance that includes a character named Ray and a notebook.

Sound tough?

Not for a team of Morristown High School videographers. They got more than a passing grade; their production took top honors at the Fifth Annual New Jersey High School Film Challenge.

They bested 30 schools and more than 70 movies to win Best Overall Film at Jackson Liberty High School in Jackson last month.

THEY TOOK A 'CHANCE': MHS prizewinning filmmakers (L-R): Sophomore Kylee Strasser, junior Mat Mruz, senior Matty Monahan, broadcasting teacher Mike Butler, senior Darren Gong, and senior Trevor Stephney. Photo courtesy of MHS.
THEY TOOK A ‘CHANCE’: MHS prizewinning filmmakers (L-R): Sophomore Kylee Strasser, junior Mat Mruz, senior Matty Monahan, broadcasting teacher Mike Butler, senior Darren Gong, and senior Trevor Stephney. Photo courtesy of MHS.

 

One Chance was written and directed by Trevor Stephney. Darren Gong was cinematographer, and Matty Monahan assisted with editing, and acted.

“Trevor’s ability to visualize every scene was impressive. He knew exactly what he wanted, and had total confidence in Darren’s cinematic eye,” said broadcasting teacher Mike Butler, the project adviser and a former director for Court TV.

Trevor Stephney with award for top NJ high school film. Photo courtesy of MHS.
Trevor Stephney with award for top NJ high school film. Photo courtesy of MHS.

Rounding out the team were junior Mat Mruz (audio, acting) and sophomore Kylee Strasser (assistant director, actor), recent winner of the Emerging Filmmaker Competition at the Montclair Film Festival.

Both of them are members of the Colonial Corner film club, run by Butler.

“I was really impressed by the way the team worked together and accepted their roles. The seniors led the way, while the underclassmen followed directions, and picked up invaluable skills,” the teacher said.
 
“I was amazed that high school students were so detail-conscious, and went over the film, frame by frame. This is something that was unimaginable a decade ago.”
 
The seniors plan to study film in college this fall: Stephney at Montclair State University, Gong at Drexel, and Monahan at Syracuse University.
 
One Chance also gave Butler a chance to expand his skills. He ad-libbed his way through a starring role.
 

“I channeled my inner Larry David,” he said.

 

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2 COMMENTS

  1. Quick Correction: Trevor Stephney was the chief editor. Darren Gong did some additional editing.

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