Swishhh! Santa Claus gallantly swings his double-edged light saber at the menacing mechanical mass of Darth Vader. However, agile from years of Jedi training, Vader evades his lethal blows. But, with a vehement stab from Santa’s saber, Vader collapses in an ebony puddle, a stain in the pristine snow of the North Pole.
Lakewood Ranch High sophomore Nick O’Donnell proposed this winning LEGO animation entry for the third annual Manatee County Film Rush in March. Of the 30 entries chosen during the event, 16 of them were from Lakewood. Two entries won first place in their categories of the competition — O’Donnell’s epic battle and a film narrative by seniors Trace McNabb, Nicole Signorile, and special effects man junior Cameron Helwege.
The Manatee County Film Rush is an awards ceremony held at the South Florida Museum Planetarium. This event is held for all high school, middle school, and elementary school students in Manatee County. Students can place entries in animation, news, film narrative or commercials.
“My movie was a stop-action film,” O’Donnell said. “I take a picture, move the LEGO figures, and then repeat the process. It took me about 1,500 photos and one month to finish the film.”
O’Donnell began his involvement in film at Braden River while working on the news crew.
“My interests grew and I came to Lakewood Ranch to pursue my interests in TV production because they have one of the best programs in the county,” O’Donnell said.
O’Donnell has made six LEGO movies and films commercials for Lakewood’s news program that run every morning. He plans to enter his most recent LEGO creation, “Vader vs. Santa,” in a competition for a college scholarship.
McNabb, Signorile and Helwege made a musical black and white movie called “Chroma-Rhythm.”
“The film is about a relationship between a girl and boy, and how the boy’s world transforms into brilliant color and sound when he meets her,” said McNabb, who helps produce announcements, commercials and introductions to Lakewood’s morning news show.
These tech-savvy Mustangs have an upcoming competition at the state level for the Technology Student Association, in which juniors Devon Keebler, Sarah Jurkowski and Helwege and McNabb, a senior, will enter a film, “Absence,” which is about the bonds of friendship and the fragility of life.
“This will be my favorite film,” McNabb said. “This film has a much more complex story and delves deep into human emotion.”
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The Tabernacle Christian School middle school student Lauren Medred, an East County resident, earned top vocal honors, taking first place in vocal solo female category of the Florida League of Christian School’s Festival of the Academics and Arts Feb. 28 and March 1 at Southeastern University in Lakeland.
Manatee County schools dominated a state technology competition with five of six top-three finishes earned by Manatee County schools during the 35th annual Technology Student Association State Competition late February.