Shooting for the Stars
7th Grade Filmmaker from the Bay Area Inspires Other Kids to
The magic of the camera in the hands of great directors makes
kids all over the world dream of stardom. However, the world of
cinematography is notoriously difficult to break into, but
young, aspiring filmmakers take heart! The Windy Hill Kids
Film Festival, debuting this spring, is on a slightly smaller
scale than the larger festivals in New York and Hollywood...for
now. Opening in Menlo Park on April 9th, Windy Hill will
showcase films by young film producers in 4th grade through high
school. The festival organizers are expecting several films this
year throughout the South Bay Area. And with inspirational
leaders like its young founder, Shelby Rachleff, the sky's the
limit. Better watch out, Hollywood - this kid is dreaming big.
A 7th grader from Menlo School, Shelby has taken on no small
challenge. Brought on by her love of the cinema, Shelby's film
festival will be the first of its kind in the greater Palo Alto
San Mateo area. The festival will encourage dialogue between
filmmakers and community members in a supportive setting.
Shelby first decided to organize a film festival after attending
the Telluride Film Festival in Colorado. "This summer, I went to
see the Telluride Film Festival with my parents and was inspired
to try to emulate what I saw," said Shelby. "I thought there are
so many of my friends who like to play around with Apple's
easy-to-use iMovie and digital cameras - if they could share
their movies with other kids, it might inspire them while also
being tons of fun!"
This future producer caught the bug for filmmaking at a young
age. Even as a little kid, she would think of ways to translate
her favorite books into screenplays.
"I'm a pretty voracious reader," said Shelby. "I would make
notes on which of the books I read might make great movies. I'd
ask my parents how I could make a career out of that when I was
In pursuit of this dream, Shelby attended iD Tech Camps, a
weeklong summer technology program for students ages seven to 17
at Stanford University and other prestigious universities
nationwide. At camp, Shelby took Web Design and Digital Video &
Movie Production courses.
"At camp, I worked in a group to produce a movie. We edited it
with help from our instructor," said Shelby. "It was really
exciting using professional products like Canon digital cameras,
Adobe After Effects for special effects and Apple Final Cut Pro
for professional movie editing. We had a blast , learned so much
and were definitely inspired to produce more films. It was a
great experience to get us started."
Shelby's exposure to cutting-edge movie software and hardware
helped focus her interest in movie making and raised the bar of
her expectations. After attending camp at Stanford University,
she became inspired to try new things in her movies.
"Going to iD Tech Camps made me want to use Final Cut Pro to
incorporate more awesome stuff into my movies to make them more
sophisticated," said Shelby. "It was my first real introduction
to using specific techniques, such as imported sounds, different
logos, and experiments with lighting. It has definitely spurred
my interest in filmmaking."
"But Shelby soon learned that running a film festival is more
than just producing great films. As April approaches, she is
busy calling schools to confirm their participation, sending
emails about the festival, checking the sound system and viewing
the entries. She is also preparing her welcome speech and her
introductions of the various films. The guest speaker at the
festival will be Gardner Loulan, a Portola Valley native and VJ
for MTV's mtvU show.
"Gardner is really cool and will be inspiring to kids," said
Shelby. "We wanted to make this festival really non-threatening
for kids - even though there's a judge, it will be really
non-threatening and a supportive environment for kids of ALL
levels to show their entries. The idea is to get everyone
involved and hopefully build up momentum so we can follow up
with this festival in years to come."
The Windy Hill Kids Film Festival is off to a roaring start. And
with up and rising film producers like Shelby leading the way,
who knows? One of today's entrants could be inspired to be
tomorrow's big star.