Avon Schultz says his “eardrums exploded” when he heard his name announced at the All-American High School Film Festival in New York City last weekend.
The 18-year-old’s short documentary, “Meet Me in the Pale Moonlight,” nabbed the festival’s Maverick Award at a ceremony in a Brooklyn theater. Schultz made the movie during last year’s Youth Documentary Academy, held at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College every summer since 2013.
“My film very narrowly skirts the edge of that category and really falls under experimental,” said Schultz, a Pikes Peak School of Excellence graduate. “It’s an artistic journal about coping with the loss of someone who was part of something bigger, and how that loss can affect the way you undertake everything else.”
The award came with a $1,000 scholarship to next year’s Prodigy Camp in Leavenworth, Wash., and other goodies.
Schultz said his love affair with the video camera began early in life, when he couldn’t get enough of filming his grandmother’s animals and his own collections of “weird esoteric crap.” His plans for the future aren’t solidified yet, but he hopes to pursue making more art.
“I didn’t ever tell myself I’m going to make movies one day,” he said. “I just enjoyed what I did.”
The Youth Documentary Academy was well-represented at the prestigious youth film festival. Nine of last year’s 12 films by YDA students were accepted into the festival. Thousands of films are submitted, and organizers screen them down to 700. YDA alumni Samuel Faux’s film “Twice Exceptional” also was nominated in the best documentary category.
“It’s giving us national recognition,” said YDA Deputy Director Karen Walldorf. “The line I heard repeated from parents throughout the weekend was that it legitimized the work of their young person. It said we can run with the big dogs and stand up with all these filmmakers across the country who have more access to opportunity and financial support in making those films.”
Films from this summer’s YDA will premiere Nov. 4 at the Fine Arts Center. Organizers hope to include a screening of Schultz’s film.
YDA was created to teach youths ages 14 to 18 how to direct and produce their own documentary films. About a dozen students in the Pikes Peak region are selected each summer to participate in the free, seven-week training.