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Big Dreams & Silver Screens Youth Festival

Big Dreams & Silver Screens Youth Festival,  formerly Rahway Film Festival Junior” is dedicated to showcasing the filmmaking talents of New Jersey students in Grades 3 through 12

The 2nd Annual Big Dreams & Silver Screens Youth Fest took place on June 3, 2017, at Patria Latin Bistro in Rahway, NJ where we screened 20 selected impressive films by New Jersey students from across the state followed by a brief Q&A discussion with the selected filmmakers hosted by Ron MacCloskey of Edison TV's "Classic Movies with Ron MacCloskey". Click here for the full film lineup.

Congratulations to the winners of 2017!

  • Leanna Culver of Clayton, NJ won “Best Short Animation” for her short film, “String”.

  • Alexia Ross of Fanwood, NJ  won “Best Short Documentary” for her short film, “You Are What You Wear”.

  • John Tuohy of Little Silver, NJ won “Best Short Narrative” as well as “Best Picture” for his short film, “Parallax Dreams”.


As grand prize winner, John Tuohy will appear on Edison TV’s “Classic Movies with Ron MacCloskey” and his film, “Parallax Dreams” will receive a special screening at the 5th Annual Rahway International Film Festival taking place September 22-24, 2017 at the James Ward Mansion in Westfield, NJ.

Check out our photos below, with more coming soon!

Also check out our news segment which aired on TV Asia USA channel below!

Keep up to date! Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

Big Dreams & Silver Screens Youth Festival
Youth Fest 2017 Photos

News segment of Big Dreams & Silver Screens Youth Festival 2017 by TV Asia USA channel.


Ruchir Bodicherla from Sayreville, NJ - Director of "A Blank Piece of Paper"

Brett Boon from Butler, NJ - Director of "Prom?"

John Tuohy from Little Silver, NJ - Director of "Parallax Dreams"

Gina Marie Rodriguez - Founder & Festival Director of Big Dreams & Silver Screens

Stacy Ignacio - Assistant Festival Director of Big Dreams & Silver Screens

Mahogany Reynolds - Founder of Just Be You Performing Arts (Sponsor)

Youth Fest 2017 Lineup


(Listed Alphabetically by Film Title)

"A Blank Piece of Paper"

Short Narrative |  Runtime: 01:20

Director: Ruchir Bodicherla

Grade: Grade 8 from Sayreville, NJ

Synopsis: The things that can be done with a blank piece of paper are endless. In this film, director Ruchir Bodicherla demonstrates some of the many possibilities of paper. Scripts, speeches, poems. The list goes on and on. Perhaps the greatest thing about paper, is that it shares so much with life itself.


"A Magical Affair"

Short Animation |  Runtime: 3:05

Filmmakers: Tyson Animation Class (Dylan Jones, Jada Wynter, Justin Cotton, Jelani Johnston, Adina Cook, and Brianna Miller)

Grade: Grade 11 from East Orange, NJ

Synopsis: This magical couple is in for a trick!

"Anywhere but Here"

Short Narrative |  Runtime: 5:22

Co-Directors: Emma Nafz & Melissa Herforth

Grade: Grade 11 from Butler, NJ

Synopsis: ​After an argument with her boyfriend, Grace (Courtney Bulger) ​befriends runaway teen, Bolton (John Valle) at a bus stop. Bonding over their similar situations, they decide to go on an adventure together in order to forget their problems. 

"Break the Cycle"

Short Narrative |  Runtime: 4:28

Director: Emily Capriotti

Grade: Grade 12 from Howell, NJ

Synopsis: A young girl battling depression and anxiety, personified. She is in an abusive relationship with herself. 


Short Narrative |  Runtime: 4:32

Director: Jon Sosidka

Grade: Grade 12 from Clinton, NJ

Synopsis: The official music video for Matt Walden's "Breathe."- a video about a music artist struggling to maintain creativity and finding inspiration in uncommon places.

"Charlotte Posts a Photo"

Short Narrative |  Runtime: 6:53

Director: Kierin Rogers | Writer: Samantha LaRochelle | Producer: Kaitlyn Holtz

Grade: Grade 12 from Wall, NJ

Synopsis: Charlotte posts a new photo online and the negative comments manifest themselves in unforeseen ways.

"Circus on the Moon"

Short Animation |  Runtime: 4:56

Director: Corinne Antonelli

Grade: Grade 12 from Washington, NJ

Synopsis: Corinne Antonelli's animated film "Circus on the Moon," tells the story of a woman, man and boy, all experiencing hard times in life. They get transported to a circus on the moon and are brought with people from all over the world. Everyone is brought together and realize that when they learn to accept their differences they together can create a beautiful mosaic of cultures, races, and expression. 

"Climate Change PSA"

Short Animation |  Runtime: 0:59

Co-Directors: Shannon McGavin & Tara Cavanagh

Grade: Grade 11 from Highlands, NJ

Synopsis: Is Earth getting warmer? Can we do anything about it? This short, informative public service announcement video about climate change answers those questions.

"Fun Facts About Goats"

Short Animation |  Runtime: 1:56

Director: Kate Manning

Grade: Grade 12 from Highlands, NJ

Synopsis: This creative, stop animation video gives an overview of some fun facts about goats.


Short Narrative |  Runtime: 3:14

Co-Directors: Holly Grobholz & AnnMarie Ciulla

Grade: Grade 12 from Washington, NJ

Synopsis: The distance between everyone and everything increases within each day. It seems like the world is colorless. I've been trying to find the color in those around me. I have to run away to search for the color in myself.

"I AM"

Short Documentary |  Runtime: 2:38

Director: Julia Forsyth

Grade: Grade 11 from Atlantic Highlands, NJ

Synopsis: Who is TC? An inward look.


Short Animation |  Runtime: 3:02

Director: Christian Smith

Grade: Grade 11 from Highlands, NJ

Synopsis: Imperfection and disbelief. We examine the highly critical mind, an Apollonian mind being faced with the internal darkness. A darkness that is impossible to burn away, it can only be accepted, and brought together with our light side in the symbolic "Mysterium Coniunctionis." An experience our character does not experience. His own creations are miserable and alone, and in the end, destroy themselves entirely.

"Mrs. K"

Short Documentary |  Runtime: 6:45

Co-Directors: Amy Conrad & Julia D'Aguanno

Grade: Grade 12 from Highlands & Atlantic Highlands, NJ

Synopsis: A tribute to this Teacher of the Year who continually inspires, educates, and loves all who she comes in contact with.

"Parallax Dreams"


Short Narrative |  Runtime: 6:00

Director: John Tuohy

Grade: Grade 10 from Little Silver, NJ

Synopsis: A lost traveler's introspective journey through an unknown land. 


Short Narrative |  Runtime: 3:10

Director: Brett Boon

Grade: Grade 12 from Butler, NJ

Synopsis: Inspired by true events, "Prom?" tells the story of two girls who have to choose to keep their pride or give in, in order to go to the prom together. 

"The Revision"

Short Narrative |  Runtime: 8:18

Co-Directors: Vittoria Orlando & Judd Lopez

Grade: Grade 12 from Bayonne, NJ

Synopsis: The Revision is about a high school boy who has an encounter with Death, herself.


Short Documentary |  Runtime: 4:32

Director: Isabel Otis

Grade: Grade 12 from Highlands, NJ

Synopsis: This is the start of a revolution. In the name of humanity, we refuse to accept a fascist America. It's time to bring the power back to the people. Rise up, join the fight. Don't stop, don't conciliate, don't accommodate, don't collaborate. Unite with everyone everywhere to prove love will always win. See you all at the protest in Washington DC on January 20th. Various organizations will provide free buses from NYC. We've only just begun.





Short Animation |  Runtime: 2:30

Director: Leanna Culver

Grade: Grade 12 from Clayton, NJ

Synopsis: A small creature made up of yarn stumbles its way through the search for the only thing it doesn't have: a second eye. 


Short Narrative |  Runtime: 1:39

Director: Abigail Karl

Grade: Grade 11 from Monmouth Beach, NJ

Synopsis: If you could explain something to someone that you never got the chance to, what would you say?

"You Are What You Wear"


Short Documentary |  Runtime: 11:37

Director: Alexia Ross

Grade: Grade 9 from Fanwood, NJ

Synopsis: I decided to go out and ask our youth what fashion means to them and if you really are what you wear. You Are What You Wear is a raw documentary featuring various students from my high school. 

Youth Fest Rules


Are you a student who enjoys telling stories?  Do you enjoy acting?  Do you enjoy writing? Do you enjoy making movies?


Big Dreams and Silver Screens Youth Festival wants YOU to tell your story!  We want you to Make A Movie.  All you need is your camera or smartphone, parental consent (if under 18) and the desire to create!

Parents and/or teachers may submit on the behalf of students. All contact will be conducted with whomever submits the film.

PLEASE BE CERTAIN TO CHECK YOUR E-MAIL. This is how festival directors will communicate with all filmmakers.



  • Eligible students: Grades 3-12. (Must be a resident of New Jersey)*.

  • Movies must be under 30 minutes in length.

  • Movies may be filmed on a smartphone, digital camera, camcorder, or other device.

  • NO foul language, violence, or sexual content. - Applicants who ignore these requirements will be disqualified.

  • Story may be ORIGINAL or based on a book from current student curriculum.

  • Deadline: No films will be accepted after May 15, 2017.


To Submit:

  • There is NO FEE to submit.

  • All films must be submitted through FilmFreeway.  There is no cost to use this platform.


Grand Prize:

  • Winning film(s) will be chosen to premiere at the 5th Annual Rahway International Film Festival this year.

  • Winning filmmakers will be offered a guest appearance on the television show, "Classic Movies with Ron MacCloskey"  (Parental consent is required for any filmmakers under the age of 18).



Some Quick Tips:


Options for Editing your Film:

  • Software (Both of these programs are instructional and will help you along the way).

    • iMovie

    • Windows Movie Maker

  • Phone Apps:

    • Viddy (Android)

    • Magisto (Android)

    • FiLMiC Pro (iPhone)

    • almost DSLR (iPhone)

    • Movie Looks HD (iPhone)

    • SloPro (iPhone)


Suggestions for Choosing Story:

  • Choose a scene from a book that you really enjoy, preferably one from your current school year.  Remember: The best product comes when you’re having fun!


  • Write your own short script that you want to see on the big screen. Write what you know!


Tips for Shooting your Film:

  • Make sure that your scene is well lit.  We want to SEE your actors.

  • Make sure that we can HEAR your actors.

  • Work with people that you like and trust.

  • Shoot your scene at different angles.  You can choose what looks best later.

  • Hold your phone the way you would hold a camera, HORIZONTALLY.

  • Be consistent.


Additional Resources:


Youth Fest 2016


Last year, our inaugural event took place on May 21, 2016 at 2pm in UCPAC’s Hamilton Stage for the Performing Arts, and presented 19 short films by young filmmakers across the state. The event was hosted by Ron MacCloskey of Edison TV's "Classic Movies with Ron MacCloskey".


Congratulations to "You Are Not Alone" for winning Best Short Film, and "Keepin Up with the Society Hillians: Society Hill Victims Unit" for winning Audience Choice Award


The 2016 winning filmmakers received a special screening at the 4th Annual Rahway International Film Festival, October 21-23, 2016 as well as a guest appearance on Edison TV’s, “Classic Movies with Ron MacCloskey.”

Check out Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram for more photos.


(Listed by Age of Student Filmmaker)

"The Last Pretzel"

Student: Caitlin McDonald (age 9)

School: Grade 3 at Brookside Place School - Cranford, NJ

Filmmaker's Statement: "I got the idea for this video from a story I wrote for a short story contest last year. The idea came from school where at snack time there was a kid who was sharing pretzels but there was only one left. I made a script and I didn't even have to look for actors because I already had my family, including my dog, Scout."

Device: iPhone 6




Student: Jane Harrison (age 9)

School: Grade 4 at McGinn Elementary School - Scotch Plains, NJ

Filmmaker's Statement: "After I made this film it made me notice that film making was something that was fun to do. Thank you for the opportunity to enter my film in this competition. You have proved that kids and adults can do the same things, and they can both succeed."

Device: iPhone 5



"The Missing Bracelet"

Student: Emily Tribiano (age 12)

School: Grade 6 at Roselle Park Middle School - Roselle Park, NJ

Filmmaker's Statement: "I chose this idea of a missing bracelet because I wanted to think of a new concept that had a surprising cliffhanger that no one was expecting. "Going undercover" to find the missing bracelet popped into my head, and I stuck with that idea. Also, ever since I was seven years old, I had a passion for acting, editing, and directing short skits and movies. I played all the parts in the video (regarding the hands that grabbed the bracelet) and I edited it myself. It took me two days to make, so I hope you enjoy!"

Device: iPhone 6



"The Story of Eileen Gee"

Student: Jennifer Schug (age 14)

School: Grade 9 at Magnet High School - Scotch Plains, NJ

Filmmaker's Statement: "I decided to make this movie because my grandma has been an extremely influential person in my life. I wanted to show that having Alzheimer's does not define who a person is. Instead, it is one's personal experiences and consideration towards others that really shows their true colors."

Device: iPhone 5



"Keepin Up with the Society Hillians: Society Hill Victims Unit"


Student: Cadian McGraw Jr. (age 15)

School: Grade 9 at Marist High School - Bayonne, NJ

Description: In Jersey City's gated community, the Society Hill gang find themselves solving crimes and getting to the bottom of cases in this parody of "Law and Order". Starring Kareem Brock, Trey Sargent, and Seth Phillip.

Filmmaker's Statement: "I was inspired by my mom who started a media production program for poor people in Jersey City."

Device: iPhone

(Includes mild violence and censored language. Viewer discretion advised.)



"The F.U.N. Song - Spongebob Squarepants" Animated Music Video

Student: Emily Churak (age 15)

School: Grade 10 at Henry Hudson Regional - Highlands, NJ

Description: An animated music video of this Spongebob Squarepants song, featuring the characters Peridot & Lapis Lazuli from the cartoon "Steven Universe".



"Back in the USSR - The Beatles" Music Video

Student: Julia Forsyth (age 15)

School: Grade 10 at Henry Hudson Regional - Highlands, NJ

Description: An actor-musician, this video is Julia's first experience making a music video. She made the video featuring one of her favorite bands, The Beatles.

Device: Canon Vixia SX400



"Don't Touch that Dial"

Student: Christian Smith (age 16)

School: Grade 10 at Henry Hudson Regional - Highlands, NJ

Filmmaker's Statement: "I didn't choose to make this film, the very mad spirit of Apollonian art possessed me to create a piece on the plights of the modern individual living through our totalitarian panopticon driven society. When all eyes are on you, you must watch the watchmen."

Device: Canon Rebel T3i



"You Are Not Alone"


Student: Izellah Montes (age 15), Kayleen Ojeda (age 16), Miguel Rodriguez (age 16), Yamileth Tepox (age 15)

School: Grade 10 at Abraham Clark High School, Roselle, NJ​​

Filmmaker's Statement: "Why do a video on bullying bulimic victims? Everyone should love their image and shouldn't be told they look bad which could lead to them having to hurt themselves to accomplish a 'perfect self image.' This is our message.​"

Device: iPhone 6



"Lip Gloss - Lil Mama" Music Video

Student: Devon Adams (age 16)

School: Grade 10 at Henry Hudson Regional - Highlands, NJ

Filmmaker's Statement: "This project was made as a music video and as a way to include students, teachers, and administrators into a fun, upbeat, catchy song. It was also a way for some to show off their dance moves and rhythm, others...not so much."

Device: Panasonic GH2 / iPhone 5



"New Roomhate"

Student: Josh Kurta (age 16)

School: Grade 10 at Henry Hudson Regional - Highlands, NJ

Filmmaker's Statement: "It's a satire on buddy comedies, gross out comedy, and indie psychological horror films. With little prior planning, messy "sets", and all around unprofessional atmosphere, New Roomhate is designed to be a commentary on poor filmmaking and the narcissistic attitudes of their creators."

Device: Canon Vixia 100HF



"Small Fry" Animated Short

Student: Corinne Antonelli (age 16)

School: Grade 11 at Warren Hills Regional High School - Washington, NJ

Description: This animated film follows the life of one "small" man on his journey to be with the girl he loves.



"Hotline Bling - Drake" Music Video"

Student: Kate Manning (age 16)

School: Grade 11 at Henry Hudson Regional - Highlands, NJ

Filmmaker's Statement: "Hotline Bling was made because Josh Kurta is a superstar and he had to be captured on film showcasing his awesome dance moves and hair. We also tried some different effects using Premier, which is not our primary editing program. We also experimented with light and recording on a new DSLR camera."

Device: Canon 70D



"Lucas, Kevin, and the Technicolor Dream Watcher"

Student: Colin Tunney (age 16) & David Paris (age 17)

School: Grade 11 at New Providence High School - New Providence, NJ

Filmmaker's Statement: "We decided to make this film because we always have a fun time joking around as friends, but also have a passion for making films. We wanted to convey our ability to be goofy and just have some fun, as well as showcase our cinematic storytelling abilities."

Device: Canon DSLR




Student: Kelley Trinidad (age 17)

School: Grade 12 at Henry Hudson Regional - Highlands, NJ

Filmmaker's Statement: "I made this zombie film to beat a fellow classmate at a competition. I beat him at the competition. Dreams do come true."

Device: Canon Rebel T3i

(Includes horror makeup that may be scary for young children. Viewer discretion advised.)



"Someone Like You - Adele" Music Video

Student: Jack Slocum (age 17) & Alex Braswell (age 18)

School: Grades 11/12 at Henry Hudson Regional - Highlands, NJ

Description: It's about the adventure of finding love and the pain of losing a special friend.

Device: Panasonic GH2



"The Mystery of the Wonton Soup"

Student: Brianne Hull (age 18) & Ganessa Hans (age 18)

School: Grade 12 at Henry Hudson Regional - Highlands, NJ

Description: The Mystery of the Wonton Soup is a silent film about a missing soup ordered for dinner from a Chinese restaurant. 

Device: Canon Vixia 100HF



"Something Special"

Student: Seth Rosenthal (age 18)

School: Grade 12 at Henry Hudson Regional - Highlands, NJ

Filmmaker's Statement: "I wanted to test my editing abilities and to expand upon my filmmaking experience. I chose to make Something Special in an attempt to complete these things. I enjoy learning new techniques and expanding on my comprehension of such pieces of editing software as Adobe Premiere CC15. Something Special gave me the opportunity to test these things."

Device: Panasonic HMC-150



"Number 1 - Moon Hooch" Music Video

Student: Alex Braswell (age 18)

School: Grade 12 at Henry Hudson Regional - Highlands, NJ

Description: "Number 1" by Moon Hooch was made to document a day at an American high school. 

Device: Panasonic GH2

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