Visalia teens win Emmy for student film

VISALIA, Calif. (KFSN) -- Three Visalia high schoolers are earning accolades for their student film. From local film festivals to the student Emmys, these El Diamante students are on the move.

For the three seniors, the lights, cameras and action all started one year ago with a Halloween costume contest.

"It came about when I made a Halloween costume," explained Senior Noah Lillywhite. "It was an alien thing I made out of foam."

With classes online and extra time on their hands, their film teacher gave them an idea.

"He suggested that I use the costume to make a film this year because, during COVID, we didn't have much going on," added Lillywhite. "So then I started writing a script."

From there, the students hit the ground running, filming the sci-fi thriller during the pandemic.

"People had hazmat masks on and hazmat suits," explained fellow student filmmaker Samuel Zurek. "But we stayed apart as much as we could and we sanitized constantly."

But what started as a school project quickly turned into something more. Their film, "Incursion," won best in show at the slick rock film festival, hosted by the Tulare County Office of Education and was shown at over a dozen other festivals.

The group took home a student Emmy, and the film was most recently nominated for best sci-fi at the All American High School Film Festival in New York City.

"Three kids from Visalia, a little dot in California, we went to New York City and we see all these filmmakers there and we just thought this is our place," said El Diamante Senior Kai Willey.

The high school seniors say they're hoping to screen at more film festivals this year and they're already planning their next project.

"I'm just very proud to see them grow and mature not only as people, but as filmmakers and artists," said Media Arts Teacher Spencer Carr.

To watch the film, click here.
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