Capturing the Moment

Sophomore expresses herself by creating short movies, establishes first Blue Valley school film festival

Trying to turn her passion for directing into a future career, sophomore Maria Gnoza has been creating films and short movies since she was in sixth grade.

She said she was inspired after watching movies when she was younger.

“When my friends and I watched ‘Twilight,’ that’s when I decided to be a filmmaker,” she said. “I remember thinking I could create something better than that [movie], so I started making music videos and things to try it out.”

Gnoza said she has created various genres of movies from dramas to comedies but is currently experimenting with other kinds of film.

“I’ve made some [films] that are 15 seconds [long], and I’ve made another that was 15 minutes,” Gnoza said. “I’ve done a couple of parodies and voiceovers, a couple music videos. I’ve tried animation, but I’m learning — I’m not very good at it. I also do short comedies.”

Depending on how long the film is, the time it takes to complete varies.

“I spend a couple of days just editing,” Gnoza said. “To make an actual video where I have to go out and film, it will take about three days for the filming and a couple more for the editing because I used to only make short films. I’m trying to work on making a lot longer [films] now.”

Gnoza volunteers to help with local events.

“I haven’t [filmed] anything for money,” Gnoza said. “I actually volunteer to do videos or projects. I’m doing a wedding, and I also edit and create promotional films for people.”

Gnoza said she is trying to get her films out to the public to watch.

“I put videos that need to be shared on YouTube, but most of the time, I don’t share my videos unless they absolutely need to get out there on online sources,” she said. “But, I’m planning on entering more film festivals this year and getting my name out to sponsors and local filmmakers.”

Depending on what she’s creating, Gnoza said there can be problems and stress along with the process.

“It depends if I have a deadline or not,” Gnoza said. “It’s usually pretty laid-back since I [film] because I love it. But, last year editing on a video — something that I did have a deadline for — it screwed up pretty badly the night before it needed to be finished, so that was stressful.”

Gnoza said the people she’s met through this passion are her favorite part of the whole process.

“I really like working with a bunch of different people because I can get a lot of my friends together to act and help with it,” Gnoza said.

Gnoza said finding people to star in her films isn’t as hard as some may think.

“Since I am in theater, I know a lot of actors and actresses, so I’ll usually call them first,” Gnoza said. “Or, if there’s extra [people] where I’m filming, I can ask them. It’s happened before where I’ll see someone at a park, and I’m filming a movie there. I’ll be like, ‘Hey, do you want to come in for this shot really quick?’ Most of the time children are ready to come willingly, but if they’re adults, they just give me strange looks.”

Although she loves all of her films, Gnoza said she has a couple favorites.

“Right now I’m making a music video to a song called ‘Youth,’” Gnoza said. “It’s a drama, and so far it’s been one of my favorites to make. My ‘2013-2014 Friends’ video was one of my favorites as well.”

Gnoza said filming is her passion, and the end product is something she can watch and cherish forever.

“It’s really fun actually making [the films],” Gnoza said. “Once you get to see all of the pieces of the puzzle come together, it’s very worth it.”

Blue Valley’s First Film Festival

“Students can create their own short films,” Gnoza said. “I thought of the idea over the summer, and now [librarian Jessica] Edwards is sponsoring it. I really want to stress that it’s open to everyone — if you’re the next Spielberg or just an amateur who’s bored and wants to do something with their friends. The films can be submitted now, and the award ceremony will be in April. I’m very excited, and I cannot wait to see these films.”