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Cherry Hill Film Festival Recognizes Long Beach Student Films

The Eighth Annual Cherry Hill Film Festival took place virtually last week and Wilson freshman Ben Tinsley took the Best Picture honors for his short horror film Night Terror.

The festival celebrates the short films of Long Beach Unified School District high school students, and the nominees are sent in by the film teachers on campus. Along with best picture, the teachers vote and also give awards for the best action, animation, comedy, documentary and more.

Tinsley, 15, didn’t know that Wilson teacher Thorn Heng had nominated his final project of the year that Tinsley started and finished in just a few days.

“His stood out because of the quality,” Heng said of his star pupil. “He had a story that you could follow and that developed. He’s my first freshman who just killed it. He came in knowing what he wanted to do.”

Tinsley adjusted on the fly late last month to complete his project without the help of his fellow students because of COVID-19 concerns. He actually enlisted his family on Memorial Day weekend and turned them into his crew. Tinsley’s cousin, Emily Lang, plays the main character in “Night Terror” who is struggling with lucid nightmares that alter her reality. WATCH STUDENT FILMS

“It’s kind of a mix of a couple of different things from other short films I saw online,” Tinsley said. “One of them was about a nightmare and I thought that was so interesting.”

We talked to Tinsley this week about how he got into film production and why he loves movies so much.

Question: When did you first realize you wanted to start directing films?

Answer: It was a couple years back and there was this Steven Spielberg documentary. I watched that and it was really inspiring to me. I felt like that would be such a cool thing to try and pursue.

Q: How did you get started?

A: Well, I kind of borrowed my dad’s camera, and I originally started doing this stop motion animation with my old LEGO toys and stuff. I would just take single pictures and then move them little by little. I didn’t show anyone, and I don’t even know where that is now.

Q: You’ve created a few horror/suspense projects recently. Why that genre?

A: After watching a lot of movies, and especially seeing Jordan Peele’s thrillers “Get Out” and “Us,” it appealed to me.

Q: Do you have a favorite horror movie?

A: I don’t know, I guess specifically the 1980s and ’70s movies like “Halloween” and “Silence Of The Lambs,” and then the newer ones like “The Conjuring” and “Insidious.”

Q: Where did you shoot “Night Terror?”

A: We shot at my house and my aunt and uncle’s house down the street.

Q: Where did you get the equipment?

A: I do videography work. I filmed some stuff for the city on Second Street and I used that money to accumulate high quality cameras and lenses.

Q: How did you get that job with the city?

A: I was filming the Second Street Car Show last year. I was doing it for experience and I met Dede Rossi (executive director of the Belmont Shore Business Association) and she had me shoot stuff like the Christmas Parade for their website.

Q: What type of equipment did you use for “Night Terror?”

A: I have a Cannon 6D Mark II, which is full frame, with a few Cannon lenses that I bought used. I also have a couple LED panels for the lighting. For the audio I have a Rode mic and plugged it into a lavalier pack and used it as a boom mic.

Q: What do you edit with, and do you enjoy the editing process?

A: I use Premier Pro on my Macbook Pro. I like it just as much as the filming. I feel like there’s a lot you can do, especially with the color grading and finding the flow of the film.

Q: Does winning this Best Picture award motivate you to start more projects?

A: Oh yeah, for sure. I’ve actually already started writing my next one that I’m probably going to shoot sometime this summer. I find I get the most pleasure out of making horror films. I like being able to scare people. Making movies is another way for me to be able to communicate with stories and ideas that I wouldn’t be able to produce in any other sense.


Best Action — Gabriel Castro (Lakewood) “Interstellar Ambition”

Best Animation — Aaron Castro (Lakewood) “Interstellar Vision”

Best Comedy — Ethan Moxley (Wilson) “Ol’ Girl”

Best Documentary — Tona Orozco (Lakewood) “Boys Will Be Boys” and Carlos Gonzalez (Jordan) “My Life In Quarantine”

Best Drama — Gabriel Castro (Lakewood) “The Haunted Inheritance”

Best Horror — Armond Sevillano (Wilson) “The Summoning”

Best Instructional — Kim Briones (Jordan) “How To Make Cupcakes”

Best PSA — Jocelynn Vera (Jordan) “Aiding Animals”

Best Music Video — Kenton Yim (Lakewood) “MVI_9953_1”

Best Time Capsule — Tristan Ornelas (Lakewood) “Lazy Problems”

Best Trailer — Francisco Partida (Wilson) “The Mystery Case”

JJ Fiddler
JJ Fiddler is an award-winning sportswriter and videographer who has been covering Southern California sports for multiple newspapers and websites since 2004. After attending Long Beach State and creating the first full sports page at the Union Weekly Newspaper, he has been exclusively covering Long Beach prep sports since 2007.