The 89th Academy Awards ceremony doesn’t arrive until Feb. 26, but MiraCosta College freshmen Clifford Weedman and Jackson Shipman already are celebrating. The two, along with Chapman University student Nick LaMarca, were honored in October for their production of Noose – A Short Film, a dark comedy that captured Best Overall Film at the 4th Annual All American High School Film Festival in New York.The film was produced while the three were wrapping up their senior year at Carlsbad High School.“It’s a great honor and it was an awesome experience being at the festival and hearing that our film won,” said Weedman. “It was just a surreal feeling.”Shipman agreed. “There were a lot of awesome movies that we saw while we were out there, and we had no idea we were even close to winning anything,” he said. “We were pretty amazed when we found out it took Best Film.”Noose details a teen’s futile attempt at taking his life, his efforts interrupted by a Jehovah’s Witness who knocks on the door at an inappropriate time, along with timely calls to a cell phone – which has its ringtone set to the theme song from The Golden Girls. Shipman wrote the story, LaMarca is the cinematographer. Shipman stars in the lead role as Paul, and Weedman plays the role of his friend Michael. The rest of the cast is filled by friends and budding artists from Carlsbad High School.
The film, which took a month to shoot, is among the nearly 5,000 that have been submitted to the All American High School Film Festival from 48 states and 40 countries since the launch of the event, which is described as the premier destination for talented high school filmmakers and media arts enthusiasts from around the world. The festival included workshops and panel discussions hosted by filmmakers, directors and producers, in addition to the screening of top-rated films.Weedman said Noose was created by a team of students who were part of the Broadcasting program at Carlsbad High School, and everyone involved in the production is adept at filmmaking and editing. The biggest challenge, Weedman said, was a key subject in the film: suicide.“It caused a lot of concern and a lot of discussion,” he said. “After our first day of filming, we were all talking to each other wondering if it was too dark, even for a comedy. And every day it seemed the scenes got even darker. But when we looked back at the final product, friends and family said it was well done.”
Shipman noted the film is as much about two old friends reconnecting over the course of a day as it is about suicide. “The feedback we’ve gotten has been positive,” he said. In fact, reviews have been so positive that the film – available on YouTube – is set to screen this August at an international student film festival in Denmark. Although he has been a film buff for as long as he could remember and has been making movies with a flip camera for years, Weedman said he has no interest in pursuing filmmaking as a career. His plan is to earn an associate degree from MiraCosta College and transfer to Chapman University to study business finance.Which made MiraCosta College a perfect fit.“MiraCosta is a great community college,” he said. “So far I love my classes and the professors are awesome. A lot of high school students feel like they need to straight to a four-year college, but to me, this was the best option. It’s so much more affordable, and I can get my general education classes out of the way on a pretty cool campus.”Shipman said his dream is to work as a screenwriter. And MiraCosta College is getting him off to a good start. “It’s a gorgeous campus, I’m taking some classes online, and I had a great time my first semester.”