Teen Spirit: Behind the Scenes of the Senior Class Film


Photo Courtesy of MHS Video

Left to right: Seniors Hannah Clark, Ava Becker, Rhett Chambers

Emma Lassman

The 2023 Spring Video Show, like the spring of 2022, overwhelmed the PACE theater. Every seat was filled, forcing people to have to stand in the back of the theater for a glimpse at MHS video students’ best films.  The show featured projects from students of all levels of video production, with the main attraction being this year’s Senior class film, Teen Spirit, which was written and directed by Sara Ettinger (‘23). The film takes inspiration from 80’s and 90’s pop culture, as well as dark comedies and horror movies from those time periods.

Before filming Teen Spirit, each student in the senior video class wrote a script and did a table read. Ettinger explains that “this means we had people reading the lines out loud along with the actions in the script so we could get an idea of how everything will play out. After everyone’s scripts were read we did a vote,” with the winner of the vote becoming the director of the film. 

Ettinger added that “we were relatively constrained with what the content our scripts could actually entail because it needed to take place in a school. I thought it would be fun to go all-out corny/campy and just embrace the fact that this is a movie made by high schoolers. I wanted to mock popular archetypes in [the] media surrounding our age group.” The film features characters that appear in every part of the social scene in most teen media, including “the weird girl that likes to roll her eyes at others” and “the girly girl that likes cheerleading and pink.”

Because Ettinger wrote the script, she directed it as well. Although one might think that she would choose the roles alone, she worked in collaboration with video teacher Elena Elmoznino to assign other roles. Auditions were held to decide who would play the main characters Jackie (Hannah Clark) and Sophie (Ava Becker), and behind-the-scenes roles were chosen based on working habits and production strengths. Melina Silvestro (‘23) has, according to Ettinger, “always been a super strong cinematographer so having her as the DP (cinematographer/director of photography) was a no-brainer.”

Both Ettinger and Silvestro have stated that they’ve spent multiple hours every day working on the film. Silvestro says that “it’s an emotionally taxing project because we have to be so focused while filming, making sure that we can be as efficient as possible in the 53-minute window of time we have each day. Sara and I spent hours planning every shoot outside of school so that she could be laser-focused on directing the actors when filming.” There is also a lot of work that goes into post-production. Ettinger, who is also the editor of the film, explains that “editing also takes a lot longer than most people realize just because of how much nitpicking is involved. It takes a lot of trial and error, which means it sucks up a lot of time!”

The film gave students a unique opportunity to work with a large group to produce something together. The hard work put in by all involved is the culmination of all the skills picked up by the seniors throughout the video program.

Silvestro was “thrilled to see Teen Spirit on the big screen,” adding that “it is a very strange feeling to have this be my last film in the MHS video show, but I’m so proud of it.”

Both Silvestro and Ettinger will be studying film in college, and are excited to meet people who are as passionate as they are about film. 

Although Teen Spirit was the main focus at the spring video show, the video show also featured impressive work by the Juniors, Sophomores, and Freshmen. The creation of this year’s video show and class film was clearly a meaningful experience for all students involved, and The Globe wishes these graduating students good luck on their future endeavors.