Rod Serling Festival

H-ton Filmmakers Win Rod Serling Festival Award

Five Huntington filmmakers captured an award at the Rod Serling Festival.

September 29, 2017

Five Huntington High School filmmakers have captured the prestigious Spirit of Serling Award in this year’s Rod Serling Film Festival in Binghamton for their production of Left to Write.

Huntington’s Erick Joya-Amaya, Griffin Bluemer, Thomas Friebolin, David Mosden and Noah Morris collaborated on the award winning work. The group studies film under Huntington teacher Heather Swan, who heads the high school’s video arts program.

The 2017 Rod Serling Film Festival will be held on Sunday, October 8 at 1 p.m. at the Art Mission and Theater in Binghamton. The awards ceremony will follow the screening of this year’s top films.

The Spirit of Serling Award was created to “better honor the legendary Twilight Zone creator and Binghamton native,” according to festival organizers. The award recognizes the film “that most closely captures Rod Serling’s style of work.”

“Left to Write was a huge step up from our normal videos we produce in this class,” Mr. Bluemer said. “We worked in a group of talented individuals and used more expensive equipment. The hardest part about it was probably the editing. We stayed after school for long hours to finish and all five of us worked really hard to make it what it is. So getting the Spirit of Sterling Award is awesome because it means all our hard work paid off.” 

A native of Binghamton, New York, Mr. Serling was an Emmy Award winning writer and producer and the creator and host of The Twilight Zone, an anthology series that ran for five seasons and 156 episodes, which has assumed cult status.

“This festival is held in of honor Rod Serling and his work, which has had a lasting influence on the television industry and media creation,” according to the festival’s website. “His innovative work was infused with a sense of moral responsibility and artistic integrity. The festival seeks to inspire the next generation of filmmakers.”

Launched in 1995, the festival is coordinated by WSKG Public Media and held in partnership with Binghamton City School District’s Rod Serling School of Fine Arts, Broome County Forum Theatre, New York State Media Arts Teachers Association and the Serling family. Mr. Serling was a member of Binghamton High School’s Class of 1943.

The five Huntington filmmakers are all veterans of the high school’s video arts program. The group is individually and collectively proud of Left to Write and the award the film garnered.

“Creating a film wasn’t an easy task and the challenge was made harder by only having 10 days to plan, scrip, film and edit it, but when you have a team made up of fantastic people, fantastic things can happen and evidently a film made in 10 days by a small group of friends can actually go ahead and win an award,” Mr. Friebolin said. “I couldn’t have done it without the amazing people I worked with.” 

The students were guided through the creative process by high school art teacher Heather Swan, who leads Huntington’s video arts program. The veteran educator’s students have captured dozens of awards through the years.

“It was a great experience working with my classmates, Erick, Thomas, David and Griffin,” Mr. Morris said. “We worked for 10 days straight until at least 4:30 p.m., so it’s really nice to see all of our hard work finally pay off. It’s definitely rewarding to say the least. The video program at Huntington is outstanding in many aspects. The accolades that students in the film program have earned over the past few years show the true extent of the program that Mrs. Swan runs at the high school. I’m looking forward to creating more projects and entering more competitions and festivals this year.”

A very heavy smoker for most of his life, Mr. Serling was only 50 years old when he died in Rochester, New York on June 28, 1975 following three heart attacks in less than two months and a 10 hour long open heart surgery two days earlier. He was working as a professor at Ithaca College and continuing as a prolific writer at the time of his passing.

A six-time Emmy Award winner, Mr. Serling wrote the screenplays for a long list of television shows and movies, including the critically acclaimed Seven Days in May, a 1964 political thriller set in the early 1970s that tells the fictionalized story of an attempted military coup d’état in the United States. He wrote the original Peabody Award winning teleplay for Requiem for a Heavyweight. It was later made into a now classic film starring Anthony Quinn, Jackie Gleason and Mickey Rooney.

“For a group of guys, the majority of which had never done the 10-Day Film Challenge before, ranking top 30 in New York was really incredible,” said Mr. Mosden about the film development process. “We put in a lot of thought, effort and time into making Left To Write and to get that kind of recognition was really encouraging. So, as one might imagine, having our efforts recognized again with the Spirit of Serling Award was an awesome surprise. Our film, which was made in 10 days, was chosen over hundreds of others made with less constraints. I’m really proud of the video we were able to make.”