Online film festival honors youth produced videos

September 14, 2007

A successful, first ever online film festival for youth is giving way to a new tradition.


United Methodist youth put their media savvy to use this year, telling stories of faith and spirituality in the denomination’s first online video contest.


The InSight Film Festival, sponsored by the Young People’s Ministries division of the General Board of Discipleship, awarded top honors to three entries. Rules allowed only short films scripted, shot and edited by junior high or high school youth, ages 12-18.


First place winner How Good It Is to Be Good, made by youth at First United Methodist Church in Curtis, Nebraska, shows the consequences of sin and the power of prayer. First UMC member Stephanie Scharf stars as an angel debating the issue with a rather affable demon, played by another member, Ethan Jones.


A la film critics Ebert and Roeper, the two characters watch clips of kids behaving badly: Two girls shoplift candy from a convenience store. A car full of teens goes on a drunken joy ride. Several boys vandalize a house by spray-painting graffiti.


“The script was really a take-off on Apple’s Mac-versus-PC commercials, where actors defend the two platforms,” said Ms. Scharf, now 19, who edited the film using post production software she’d trained on in high school.


Fourteen-year-old Jacob Ewald at New Hope United Methodist Church in Brunswick, Maryland, won second place with a creative Claymation short, The Merge. In two minutes it enacts the history of the church, where Jacob’s mom, the Rev. Victoria Starnes, is pastor.


Inked, produced by youth at Elam United Methodist Church in Glen Mills, Pennsylvania, took third place with a short inspired by Nooma, a video series used by author and speaker Rob Bell to illustrate Christian principles in real-life settings.


Fifteen videos were entered overall by youth in 13 states. The winning groups each received cash prizes after screenings at Youth 2007.


Next year’s festival will focus on 20-60 second faith-based commercials.


Submissions must be received by April 1, 2008 and “can include the topics of social justice, personal development and so on,” according to guidelines at

– UM Reporter