By Amanda Hatfield Anderson
BREVARD -- The allure of becoming a Hollywood icon -- complete with fame, fortune and celebrity -- is a common aspiration amongst many people as they grow up.
One local student shares in this dream; however, she would rather read her name in the credits of the movie rather than play a major role.
"I've done some acting, but not much," said Sara Weatherby, 18, a recent graduate of West Shore Junior/Senior High School in Melbourne. "I got involved in film when I was about 13 or 14 years old, but I've mostly been an extra in Indie and student films."
When Ms. Weatherby entered her senior year at West Shore, she knew exactly what she wanted to do for her senior project: write, cast, direct and edit her own short film. This would be Ms. Weatherby's first attempt at producing a film.
"I wanted to do it because it was something I knew I would enjoy," Ms. Weatherby said. "In terms of how some of the [senior] projects run, it wasn't as time consuming as others can be."
The soon-to-be college freshman at Florida State University added that she wanted to do something that would keep her attention throughout the project, as well as something that wasn't too demanding. Ms. Weatherby needed to find a balance between her two part-time jobs, Brevard Community College classes, school and the project.
"As a part of the project, I was required to have an advisor," Ms. Weatherby said. "I chose Banks Helfrich, an independent filmmaker in Orlando, who I met as an extra in one of his films."
Mr. Helfrich advised the first-time producer that she should keep her film less than 10 minutes long, due to her experience and the budget she was working with.
"My film is called 'Changeling,' which is a story about a girl named Melody, who stumbles upon a party of faeries, while playing," Ms. Weatherby said. "I like Celtic mythology and was inspired by a poem written in the 1880s. In Celtic mythology, the faeries have more to them."
"Changeling," which is a silent film, originally had dialogue in the first draft of the script.
"Mr. Helfrich and I decided to drop the dialogue because I didn't have a lot of good sound equipment," Ms. Weatherby added. "I also knew that the cast, which consisted only of teens and tweens, would have trouble memorizing lines and enunciating some of the dialogue."
After finalizing her script, Ms. Weatherby held a casting for younger actors from across Central Florida. She also recruited a friend, Shawn Uridge, who traveled from Michigan to help Ms. Weatherby shoot with his professional equipment in exchange for a place to stay.
Shortly after Shawn's arrival, the two shot "Changeling" in one day this past February.
"Directing was fun and challenging. I really enjoyed directing, which surprised me because I thought I would enjoy writing the script more," Ms. Weatherby said. "Because I wrote it, I directed and produced it. I liked the control I had over it."
One of the biggest challenges of the project Ms. Weatherby faced was editing.
"I had a good vision of how the film was supposed to look," Ms. Weatherby said. "I edited the clips in a day, but had a hard time editing sound."
After using royalty-free music from the Internet, Ms. Weatherby spent a period of four months looping and cutting sound to match the vision she had in her mind.
"I wanted to make sure it would be as perfect as it could be to match my vision," Ms. Weatherby added. "I had planned on having the film done at the beginning of June, but it is ready now."
Ms. Weatherby was also required to write a 2,000- word essay for her senior project, which she said she greatly enjoyed.
"I loved writing the paper because of the research I did on computer graphic imaging -- or CGI," she added. "I watched a lot of YouTube tutorials to help me learn."
When Ms. Weatherby goes off to Florida State University this August, she will double-major in Creative Writing and Narrative Media Production. Ms. Weatherby said she would, one day, like to work as a script writer, especially for Pixar.
"I was getting frustrated after watching an episode of 'Glee,' my favorite show," Ms. Weatherby said. "I didn't like the ending of an episode and thought that I could write a better ending and an all-around script."
Ms. Weatherby was most inspired by Pixar after watching the movie "Brave" in theaters.
"I love [Pixar's] movies because they are very well accepted by different ages and are very well done," Ms. Weatherby added. "When I watched 'Brave,' I was wondering if I could be one of the people in the credits."