Sophomore’s screenplay selected as best among 600 entries in Palm Beach

International Film Festival’s Student Showcase of Films

Molly Smith, Montverde Academy sophomore, has won the Nellie and Fred Chasin Screenwriting award for her submission of “Words to Speak, Stories to Tell” in the Palm Beach International Film Festival’s Student Showcase of Films.

Smith is inspired to bring stories to life in film with her clear vision and story-telling capabilities. Inspired by the series “Undercover High,” she wrote “Words to Speak, Stories to Tell,” as a play and then revised as a screenplay. She adeptly incorporates spoken word into the piece to breathe life into the characters, illustrating their thoughts making the esoteric issues, vivid and relatable. She clearly hears these voices and captured that in the moving spoken word pieces.

The Screenwriting category was one of the few where high school and college entries were judged together. More than 600 entries were submitted, with 250 reaching the judging stage and only 32 selected as finalists, that group was then whittled to three, with Smith earning the top award. The award, named by Michael Chasin, a Florida-based screenwriter who titled the award in honor of his parents, includes a $500.00 grant to Montverde Academy to be used to further film projects in the media arts program.

“It feels amazing to be chosen for the top prize among such talented students,” said Smith. “What started as a play really came to life as a screenplay. I want to thank Ms. Emerson for encouraging me to transform it and Mr. Gilbert for helping me change the 20-page screenplay into a three-minute short film that we will be shooting soon. I’m grateful for the support of my family and friends and so happy to have the Student Showcase of Films as an amazing film festival that recognizes student filmmakers who are giving voice and life to important issues.”

Her short film, “Finding Home,” was also nominated as a Top Three Finalist in the Suzanne Niedland Documentary category. This film features three students who share their unique stories to inspire others. Smith partnered with Allison Fitzgerald, a talented junior in the Montverde Academy Music Conservatory program, to compose the original score for the documentary.

“Molly is a talented student who continues to impress us with her skill at crafting stories that connect and captivate diverse audiences,” said Dr. Kasey K. Kesselring, Headmaster, Montverde Academy. “Montverde Academy strives to provide the environment for students, such as Molly, to find and pursue their passion beyond academics. We are happy to be a part of this gifted filmmaker’s story as she continues to excel in creating compelling pieces that inspire others.”

Smith has been honing her craft studying film and gaining technical training in using the Canon C300, gimbals, sliders, dollies, and light modifiers in media arts classes at Montverde Academy. She also studies at Skyra Studios, participating in a weekly class on screenwriting, cinematography, film production, and editing. At Skryra, she has gained experience creating films from concept to completion and has served as a production assistant on professional concept shoots and commercials. This summer, she was accepted into Northwestern University’s prestigious Film Program, a five-week film course of study for student filmmakers.

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