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Slickrock Slam Dunk: 10 Minarets Student Films Advance to Finals

By Johanna Ziegler, student journalist for Minarets Press

O’NEALS — Minarets may still be a young school, but it has already established itself as a champion for its Media Program. This reputation is reaffirmed following the recent announcement of the SlickRock Student Film Festival’s annual “Final Fives.”

Slickrock is a student-oriented film festival with over 14 categories available for high school filmmakers to submit to, including Animation, Documentaries, Music Video Covers, and General PSAs.

It’s a tradition for Minarets to participate in this annual festival, and, despite COVID-19 limitations, the Minarets Media Program is still going strong with 10 of its submissions reaching the Final Five round. Many categories receive well over a hundred entries, so to whittle down the playing field, the festival selects the top five films in each category and announces them a few weeks before the traditional awards ceremony takes place. To reach this round is a feat in itself. Here are this year’s Final Five winners from Minarets:

Alcohol/Drug Prevention PSA

Make the Call by Benjamin Esau

Flavored Tobacco/Vaping PSA

Escape the Vape by Quinn Hedberg, Alice Cummings, Noah McLaughlin

Toxic Reality by Ryan Abner, Ethan Reed, Brandon Guy, Isaac Townsend, Gianni Bellucci

General PSA

I’ll Drive Safely by Cale Freeland, Isaac Shapiro, Conor Finnegan, Mandy Villanueva

Music Video Cover

Let Go by Cale Freeland, Brock Flynn, Dominic Marino

Stupid Deep by Johanna Ziegler, Emma Lynch, Corrin Nielsen, Dadalus Haynes, Joey Hernandez

News Broadcast

Minarets Press by Ryan Abner, Colby Jobinger, Kate Hough, Joseph Langley, Autumn Pecarovich, Kathryn Odgers

PG&E News Broadcast by Hayden Livingston, Paul Havens, Solon Walker, Ethen Mikesell

Sports Highlights

Minarets 2020 Football Highlight by Ryan Abner, Ethan Reed

Suicide Prevention PSA

Hope by Nathan Esau

Having ten Final Five winners, while impressive, is actually common for the Minarets Media program. Historically, Minarets tracks at about 7 to 10 Final Five winners per year, the highest being 11 back in 2014. Winning the entire category, however, is much harder to accomplish. On average, Minarets only wins about two actual Slickrocks per year.

Despite these slim odds, students are not deterred. Senior Cale Freeland, who has two Final Five submissions in two separate categories, says, “I’ve been in the Minarets Media Program since day one, so having two of my films I worked really hard on having the opportunity to win first place in their categories feels like an absolute win to me.”

An added accomplishment of this year’s Final Fives is that it includes a submission from the Minarets Press Program. While Minarets has submitted to the News Broadcast category in the past, it had traditionally been through the Minarets Media program.

Minarets Press adviser and teacher Katie Morgan is excited to see the journalism program take a leap forward, saying, “Regardless of the results from SlickRock, this will serve as a launchpad for the media broadcast portion of Minarets Press…this will only further our students’ drive and hopefully recruit more passionate individuals to our team.” Senior Katelyn Hough, one of six group members who created the broadcast, expressed similar excitement, saying, “…it has been really cool that all of the members who helped make this happen are being rewarded in such an awesome way…it especially means a lot to our senior journalists to leave behind a legacy like this.”

The only rain on the parade that remains is the festival’s announcement that the live event would be canceled. Traditionally, the ceremony takes place at the Visalia Fox Theatre, and students have the opportunity to ride in limos, walk a red carpet, and pose for pictures in front of an official Slickrock backdrop.

On March 19, Slickrock put out a statement, saying the Premiere Screening and Awards Ceremony originally scheduled for May 8 had been canceled. Recently, however, they announced that the awards ceremony would be airing in a segment broadcasting on KFSN/ABC 30 on May 24 starting at 6:30 p.m.

Though the awards ceremony will continue in a digital fashion, Freeland and other students are still disappointed. “If I win, yes, it will be truly an amazing feeling,” says Freeland, “but at the same time, I won’t get to walk up on that stage and receive the award the way I’ve seen everyone else do.”

Hough’s reaction to the cancelation carried a similar tune. “It is a bummer that there isn’t going to be a live event,” she admits, “but it goes to show the ability of the film industry to continue forward. Even though we may not be able to gather in-person, films really bring people together, and continuing this is going to do just that.”

Despite every obstacle this global pandemic has created, student success at Minarets continues forward. The future looks bright for Minarets Media and Minarets Press as every Final Five winner counts down the days till May 24.

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