Cherokee Office of Economic Development · Cherokee by Choice.

High School Filmmakers Celebrate Excellence at 4th Annual Cherokee Student Film Festival

May 3, 2022

The Cherokee Office of Economic Development (COED), in partnership with the Cherokee County School District’s (CCSD) Audio/Video Technology and Film (AVTF) educators, recently announced the winners of the fourth annual Cherokee Student Film Festival as part of a live screening and awards presentation hosted at Sequoyah High School’s Skip Pope Stadium on April 29, 2022, at 6:00 p.m.

Student films were screened on the Jumbotron as 175 audience members cheered on 19 groups of student filmmakers from across the county.

The Cherokee Student Film Festival represents COED’s second collaboration with CCSD AVTF students this year. On March 10th, COED hosted the 3rd Annual Cherokee Student Film Summit at the YANMAR EVO//Center, featuring expert guidance from local and regional industry professionals. Through engaging hands-on breakout sessions, students were able to ask questions and connect with producers, directors, screenwriters, picture car coordinators, actors, showrunners, and film festival directors to explore careers in film.

“Our partnership with the Cherokee Office of Economic Development is making so many of our students’ dreams a reality through career experiences, and this film festival is a shining example,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower said.  “Film industry professionals share expertise with our students and teachers at the annual summit and throughout the school year, which culminates in this fantastic event.  We look forward to seeing our graduates’ names on silver screens in the future, a dream more real thanks to this collaboration.”

AVTF Instructors collaborate with COED year-round to prepare for the summit and festival. “Being a part of the Cherokee Student Film Festival is like a big celebration with family,” said River Ridge High School AVTF Instructor Lin Woods.  “I have been so blessed to see my film kids grow in their film concepts and master diverse technical and cinematography skills. I look forward to celebrating the accomplishments of our film students beyond the classroom for years to come.”

“Working alongside the CCSD to prepare students for successful careers in film has led to moviemaking magic,” said COED President Misti Martin. “Events like these are a powerful catalyst for students to launch successful careers within the film industry and make lifelong connections.”

With strict parameters designed to simulate production requirements, ten groups of students from across the county met criteria for judging. Qualifying submissions were judged by regional post-secondary film instructors Jay Hamilton (University of Georgia), Steven Hames (Berry College), Meredith Muse (Chattahoochee Technical College), Etowah Film Festival Founder Brent Lambert Zaffino, and Media Producer Justin Webb.

Awards were issued based on the judges’ total scores in the following categories:  Best Cinematography, Best Sound Quality, Best Use of Prop, Best Use of Line, and Best of Show. Festival attendees were able to cast votes in the Audience Choice category.

Sequoyah High School freshman Ava Roberts and team took “Best in Show” for their entry Secret Agent Annie Mills. “Having grown up doing on-camera acting, I was familiar with the set,” said Roberts. “When I heard about the Cherokee Student Film Festival, I thought it would be a great opportunity to get behind the camera.”

The 9th grader, who also attended the Cherokee Student Film Summit earlier this year, said both opportunities helped shape her skills and interest in working behind the camera. “I know much more about how challenging it is to run a set. “I have so much respect for directors and producers and how much organization it takes to get everything together. It’s really important to communicate well.”


Best of Show

Secret Agent Annie Mills | Sequoyah High School

Created by Justin Clark, Ava Roberts, Hailey Thompson, and Lauren Turnage

Runner Up Best of Show

Only… | Creekview High School

Created by Jackson Estapa, Chloe Feibus, Abram Midyette, and Maxton Williams

Third Place Best of Show

Lucid Dream | Cherokee High School

Created by Hunter Schwartz, Hunter Tadin, Felisa Vasquez, and Riley Watkins

Audience Choice Award (Qualifying Entry)

Unconscious | Sequoyah High School

Created by Andrew Kennedy, Tyler Sandt, and Gabe Squillace

Audience Choice Award (Participating Entry)

I Miss You | Sequoyah High School

Created by Donovan Victorino, Robyn Walker, and Ben Willison

Best Use of Prop

Wanna Hear a Scary Story | Etowah High School

Created by Sophia Berry, Marissa Migneco, and Kaili Phillips

Best Cinematography 

Secret Agent Annie Mills | Sequoyah High School

Created by Justin Clark, Ava Roberts, Hailey Thompson, and Lauren Turnage

Best Sound Quality

Lucid Dream | Cherokee High School

Created by Hunter Schwartz, Hunter Tadin, Felisa Vasquez, and Riley Watkins

Best Use of Line 

Security Breach | Woodstock High School

Created by Taylor Collins, Alex Manser, Riley McCall, and Brody Yot

To learn more about film in Cherokee, visit


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