Socorro High film team excels at national Skills USA, Earn opportunity to chat with Hollywood cinematographer

The Socorro High School film team or “Studio S” has experienced much success in the Digital Cinema Contest in Skills USA, having advanced to the state level of competition for the last three years.

“My students love to film and competition just helps them get better,” said Luis Perez, Socorro High School audio/video production teacher. “Seeing the excitement from the kids when they are making a film and then watching what they made is very rewarding to me.”

As a result of their success this year, they had the opportunity to speak with University of Southern California Associate Professor of Cinematic Arts and Hollywood cinematographer Tristan Whitman via a Zoom meeting.

The state level competition was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the contest was adjusted to allow the teams that advanced to state to compete nationally following a new curriculum this year.

Teams from 16 states participated in the contest, which was divided into a written portion that covered basic cinema knowledge and complete filming & editing of a short film from June 22 – 26.

The filmmaking teams consisted of up to five students not including cast and were required to study three prominent film directors to create a five-minute short film in the style of that director.

Studio S chose to study and produce an Alfred Hitchcock-like short film called “Erie.”

Socorro High School film team director and junior Devin Lopez took control of the movie-making process. He said the contest was easy and fun to work with people who are just as driven as him.

“I do most of the directing and camerawork on set but everyone I work with has natural talent and loves the craft just as much as I do,” said Lopez. “That’s what makes filmmaking so much fun.”

The sponsors and coordinators of the contest were so impressed with Studio S’s film that they decided to award them, along with seven other film teams nationwide, the opportunity to speak with Whitman. Originally, that honor was only going to be afforded to the first-place winner in the contest.

The teams asked Whitman questions about his experience as a cinematographer and as a college professor, for feedback on their films, what they could improve on and, mostly, advice on getting into film school.

“I think it’s pretty awesome to meet with him,” said Studio S actor and Socorro High School Junior Alan Aguirre. “Just to get my name out there and my foot in the door makes it really exciting for my film career.”

Click on the links below to see Studio S’s behind the scenes footage along with their short film “Erie.”

Behind the scenes  |  Watch Erie