Fontana Unified Film Students Win State Contest Honors

Dec 3, 2020

KVCR's Megan Jamerson interviews Jurupa Hills High School TV production students via video chat. Clockwise from bottom right, junior Brian Moreno, junior Alexander Zavala, senior Lyza Garay, and Spartan TV Production instructor Jhoann Acosta-Idda.

TV production students from two Fontana Unified School District High Schools overcame the challenges of the pandemic to win honors in the Directing Change Film Contest. The statewide contest seeks to encourage students to learn about mental health issues and use film to improve outcomes in their communities through public service announcements.

Summit senior Audrey Juarez produced her PSA Overcome about handling the stress of the pandemic. 

“Whatever is going on, a lot of people are feeling sad so I was really hoping for a video that could, like, maybe encourage or pump someone up a little bit,” said Juarez.

The cheer team captain filmed herself with her phone doing activities to cope at home, like pushups, painting, and appreciating the beauty of pink roses. Normally she would have used a digital camera and tripod, but this is part of adapting to the pandemic, said her TV production teacher, Artie Casas.

“I think the biggest problem for my program, the biggest hit we’ve taken, is we don’t have access to the normal things that we would have access to,” said Casas.

Over at Jurupa Hills, students facing the same film-making challenges in their PSAs tackled topics like voting, immigration rights, racism, and social distancing.

In Jurupa Hills junior Brian Moreno’s video Give Me Space, he gave tips on social distancing. He was one of six from his school to win honors. He said the project helped him focus on improving his film-making fundamentals, like getting great shots and staying organized. Which has been tough with the demands many students like him face in their personal lives these days.

“It’s been pretty hectic," said Moreno. "I have to take care of my dad sometimes, or I have to cut the yard or take out the trash just basic chores you know.”

Moreno was also one of two actors who appeared in a classmate’s PSA about immigration and the Latino vote in the 2020 election called I Do It For You. That film was directed by senior Lyza Garay, who says social distancing meant changing her production plans. She had her actors each film their half of a phone conversation from their homes, which was then edited together.

“With the power of film, if I can covert that into something entertaining or informational for someone else to watch and maybe be inspired, then that makes my life better,"said Garay. "That makes me have a better day.”

Her lead actor and production partner, junior Alex Zavala, said all the hours of learning in the studio with their teacher pre-pandemic led to their success.

“It was a difficult transition, but thankfully, with Ms. Jho’s teaching, the learning that I received on framing and all that did carry over,” said Zavala.

Their teacher, Jhoann Acosta-Idda, who also guides them through producing a bi-weekly TV show, says she has been really amazed with the things her students have been able to do from home.

“I just can’t wait to get back in the classroom, you know, and see them in person and show them the button to push" said Acosta-Idda. "I think when we come back, we will come back stronger than ever.”

She says she is proud of all that they’ve been able to accomplish in the world of distanced learning.

Correction: An earlier version incorrectly said Audrey Juarez is a junior at Summit Valley when she is a senior at Summit High School.