While some teens will spend their summers lazing around on the beach and others toiling away at a summer job, one Langley Fine Arts School student with a passion for acting and filmmaking plans to spend his making a film.
Grade 11 student Zachariah Blaney, known to his friends as Zach, said he has been interested in all aspects of filmmaking from a young age.
Last summer, that interest took him to the Gulf Island Film and Television School (GIFTS), where he and three young co-directors spent a week creating a film.
More recently Blaney learned that fiveminute project, titled We Need a Film, had won an award in the 16th annual Eyelens Film, Video, and Television Festival in the category of outstanding achievement in youth dramatic filmmaking.
"I was actually totally surprised," Blaney said. "I really liked the film but I wasn't sure people would get it."
Blaney's film, which he directed with fellow GIFTS campers Aidan West, Maggie Wallace and Tim Matthews, is about the process of collaborating to make a film. It's a meta-film, if you will.
While Blaney admits that the concept of a film about a film is nothing new, he is proud of the fresh take he and his group took on the idea.
"We thought it would be cool to show finished copies of the people's ideas in their heads, so that's what we ended up doing and it turned out pretty well," Blaney said.
The characters' ideas play out on the screen as they imagine them, allowing viewers to enjoy the creative process and experience the excitement and disappointment of the characters as they test new premises.
The overall tone is that of humour, enhanced by adeptly chosen music.
"Music is a huge part of film," Blaney said. "It can totally change the tone of a scene. For one of our scenes, without the music it just seemed sort of silly, and when you put the music in... it gave it much more of a serious tone. It just really brought the whole movie together."
While Blaney is happy with the recognition, he is even more thrilled about the prize, which includes a scholarship for a week at GIFTS.
"I'm planning to do my own film project in the beginning of the summer, and it's going to take up a lot of time because it requires so much editing and all that."
Blaney and three Langley Fine Arts film classmates have been planning to purchase a camera and other equipment to make an action flick.
"We're really wanting to get into this super-editing, where you're editing gunshots and having the muscle flares and putting in 3-D images of helicopters and such," Blaney enthusiastically explained.
He said they plan to do the project outside of school because of the more violent subject matter and because of the large amount of time it will take to write the script, act in the piece and then edit it into a series. Blaney said the group plans to post the finished action series on YouTube and gauge the public response.
Blaney's passion for filmmaking is eclipsed only by his love of acting, something he hopes to pursue after high school.
"It actually probably all started back in grade two when I started realizing that I loved playing make believe where you were superheroes or knights in shining armour," Blaney said with a smile. "Then I was like, oh, I wish I could do this for my whole life. And then I thought the coolest way to do that would be by becoming an actor and starring in action films."
As part of his schooling at Langley Fine Arts, Blaney participates in acting and script-writing classes, and even a special after-school drama program.
He hopes to follow in the footsteps of his older brother, who attended the Canadian College of Performing Arts.
He said while he understands acting is a notoriously difficult profession to get into, he feels compelled to give it a try for a few years and see where it takes him.
Blaney's passion for film comes across in the excitement in his voice as he describes the satisfaction of seeing finished product.
"It's just cool how you take the different shots," he said. "Like you'll set up a shot of the whole scene, and then you take a closeup of a person, and then another person, and then you'll get the background shots. So just getting all that and finally melding it together and having it look good is great."
Blaney's award-winning We Need a Film can be viewed on YouTube by searching "Giftsfilms We Need A Film."