Convent of the Sacred Heart seniors and student filmmakers Gigi Cahill and Claire Uygur are focusing their lenses on Hollywood for their college years. Both Gigi and Claire will study film in California next fall.
In the Upper School, Gigi started taking the introductory broadcast journalism class her freshman year and she is currently taking the Advanced Creative Filmmaking course. Through these courses, she has explored both live action and claymation film.
“The best thing about filmmaking at Sacred Heart is the amount of support the students have available to them. We have access to state-of-the-art equipment and other filmmaking students who are willing to help out on a shoot through acting or technical support,” Gigi said. “Sacred Heart’s filmmaking program really helps students thrive in the filmmaking industry in the future.”
Gigi has also attended Maine Media’s young artists’ filmmaking workshop, the Rhode Island School of Design’s pre-college program, and has won a scholarship to Relativity workshops in Los Angeles.
“Each program was a completely different experience and focused on a distinct aspect of filmmaking from story to technique,” Gigi said. “The one thing that remained constant throughout the workshops though, was the similar passion all the students had for the art of filmmaking. People came from all around the world, including Shanghai, Russia, Canada, and Hong Kong, but we all shared the same love for the moving picture.”
One of her greatest accomplishments was winning the Jason Learning Contest grand prize for her public service announcement “Driving Towards a Better Future.” Gigi traveled to Vancouver to screen the film for thousands of people who work towards making vehicles more eco-friendly.
Next year, Gigi plans to continue her studies at the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts. The school accepted Gigi into the Animation and Digital Arts major which only accepts nine to 15 people each year.
“I love how there are no real rules to filmmaking. You could just pick up a camera and film your family or your pets and be a filmmaker. There is no right or wrong way to do it,” Gigi said. “With social media and Youtube today, it’s easier than ever to get your story heard and share it with other people. And, because of the quickly advancing technology in the field, filmmakers are perpetual students. I can’t wait to never stop learning about filmmaking.”
Like Gigi, Claire will study filmmaking in California next year. She plans to major in film production with a focus on editing at the California Institute of the Arts.
At Sacred Heart, Claire was always interested in film. During her freshman year, Claire took the multimedia design class and found that she was most interested in the video projects. She later switched into the broadcast journalism course and, eventually, took the creative filmmaking course her senior year.
Claire is most interested in commercial work such as GoPro videos, music videos, commercials, and sports promotions. Her favorite film that she has created is the 2016 Sacred Heart Film Festival trailer. She started working on it in February to experiment with different edits and effects.
“In editing, the sky’s the limit,” Claire said. “It is my favorite part of filmmaking because I have complete control over how the video looks. I like to challenge myself to make each edit meaningful and always ask myself ‘How can I make this better?’”
Last summer, Claire attended a three week filmmaking course at the School of Visual Arts in New York City.
“The program helped me grow as a filmmaker and gave me a new appreciation for all areas of filmmaking: pre-production, production, and post-production,” Claire said.
Her films have also won many awards. In 2016, her “CSH Film Festival 2015” trailer won first place in the Video Commercial Category in the Columbia Scholastic Press National Gold Circle Awards and her film “Focus” won an Honorable Mention in the Film and Animation category from the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards Competition. In 2015, Claire’s film “Pulse” was a finalist in the Experimental Category at the All American High School Film Festival.
“I want my stories to have a personal impact on each viewer and make them think about the world around them; to challenge their current outlook on life and inspire them to see the world in different ways,” Claire said. “No two people see the exact same picture, or watch the same video for that matter, which is why I do not want my films to be straightforward. I want each person who watches one of my pieces to have a newfound thirst for knowledge and exploration.”
At film school, Claire hopes to meet fellow filmmakers and make industry connections in Los Angeles.
“If it were not for the Broadcast Journalism program, I would have no idea what I want to do with my life, and would have definitely had a harder time figuring out what I want to do during the college process,” Claire said. “It is going to be hard parting from the program next year at college, but I know Sacred Heart has instilled in me a great work ethic and gone above and beyond to prepare me for college and the rest of my life.”
Upper School broadcast journalism teacher Ms. Ellyn Stewart congratulates Gigi and Claire on their successes in film.
“I have known Gigi since she was an eighth grader. I will miss her unwavering artistic and visual sensibility, her humility, her willingness to help others, and her infectious laughter. Claire has been in my class since she was a sophomore. I will miss her vision, her eagerness to think outside of the box, her creativity, and her ability to speak her mind,” Ms. Stewart said. “Of course, I will miss watching their films. They just keep getting better and better in their filmmaking. Both Claire and Gigi will be greatly missed next year.”
– Arielle Kirven, Co-Arts and Entertainment Editor