A Grade 12 student from St. Martin de Porres High School is riding high after receiving the Audience Choice Award at the 2020 Airdrie Film Festival (AFF).
Bryan Flannigan, 17, won the award Sept. 25, following AFF’s only in-person screening this year at Bert Church LIVE Theatre. His short film garnered 65 per cent of the audience vote.
“It feels absolutely amazing," said Flannigan, who previously earned AFF’s Youth Award in 2018. “I put a lot of effort into this stuff in the last few years and I’m very grateful for the people who helped make the award possible."
Flannigan’s winning flick, Homework Escape, is a 14-minute short film about a group of students who scheme to escape their intimidating teacher, whom they believe to be a murderer. Flannigan said he recruited some of his friends to act in the film.
“These kids have a teacher they believe to be a killer,” he said. “They come up with a plan to run out of the classroom when he either kills someone or gives them a whole bunch of homework.
“They end up running out, but they find out some secrets.”
Homework Escape was also screened at Vancouver’s Our Voice Film Festival in August, Flannigan said. The film was a re-creation of his very first filmmaking attempt – a group project he was involved with during his Grade 8 film studies class.
“I turned out to like doing film, so I started doing better and taking it more seriously," he said. "In the beginning of Grade 11, I saw I’d been doing better with these films and I said, ‘I have to pay homage to the film I started off with, and I think I could do it better than I did before.’”
The new and improved Homework Escape took about six weeks to film and a little more than a week to edit, according to Flannigan. He said the scenes were shot in the interior of St. Martin de Porres High School, which meant he had to receive permission from the principal to film outside regular school hours.
The whole movie was shot on his cell phone, he added.
“I wanted to show that filmmaking, in general, doesn’t need the big cameras,” he said. “As long as you have a story or something you want to show, whatever you have – even the phone in your pocket – can get it done.”
This year marked Flannigan’s third time submitting a short film to AFF. He said he enjoys being involved in Airdrie’s only film festival.
“Every time I’ve been there, it’s been fantastic," he said. "I love the experience of seeing not just my film but everyone else’s film. It’s just a nice time and they put so much effort into it.”
Now that he's begun his last year of high school, Flannigan said his goal is to study film at SAIT next year. He said he likes how effective film is as a story-telling medium.
“I think it can give out emotions like no other thing can,” he said.
Flannigan encouraged any youth in Airdrie interested in filmmaking to give it a shot.
“I’ve met a lot of people who are younger than me who ask about this and how I got started,” he said. “Just find some friends and put something together, even if it’s just with your phone.
“Just do it, because you never know. And that’s not just with filmmaking, but anything. Try something new. I had no idea I wanted to do film until I took that film studies course. If there’s something else that interests you, just give it a shot.”
Homework Escape and the rest of Flannigan's work can be watched on his Instagram page, @b_flanny_