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Student Indie Film Explores Issues of Fame, Self-worth

“The Colosseum,” a full-length feature film uniquely produced and directed by students in the OCS Institute of Art and Innovation (IAI) premiered in late spring as the showcase piece of the inaugural OCS Film Festival on the campus of Oaks Christian School. The film explores the issues of the price of fame and the basis for self-worth.

While many high school film departments produce videos and short documentaries, “The Colosseum” stands apart as a student-driven film from conception to opening. Few schools nationwide produce a full-length feature film completely directed, produced, filmed and edited by high school students.

“These students are creating award-winning films that are on-par with anything coming out of some of the best college programs in the country,” said Kristoffer Polaha, actor (“Wonder Woman” 1984, “Little Fires Everywhere”) and IAI advisory council member. “These films highlight the creative work going on at Oaks that is preparing their students to be future leaders in the entertainment industry.”

“The Colosseum” is the second film IAI students have written, produced, directed and edited. Last year’s film, “Missperception,” has already garnered over 10 awards from festivals around the country, including the Los Angeles Film Awards, the Seattle Film Festival, and the San Diego International Kids Film Festival and featured a cameo by actor Sean Astin (“Lord of the Rings,” “Goonies”).

In addition to “The Colosseum” the festival highlighted other student projects created this year such as music videos, two covers and one original song, and silent films that span comedy to dramas. Also highlighted was an award-winning documentary about clinical trials in China that has already won seven festival laurels. Capstone short films on freedom, student athletes, friendship, grief and revenge were also featured.

Students are creating these works under the auspices of the IAI, which partners with entertainment industry professionals and some Hollywood celebrities to offer mentorship to students to accelerate their creative and professional growth. Students can concentrate on various disciplines in the arts, such as vocal performance, music and film production, dance, music production, songwriting and photography.

In addition to Polaha, the IAI advisory council includes Grammy Winner and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee Jimmy Jam, Alan Carter (“The Voice”), as well as producer/actor Ryan O’Quinn (“Believe,” “Paul’s Promise”).

“To my knowledge there is no other program like this in the country,” said O’Quinn of Damascus Road Productions. “Students at the high school level have access to industry professionals that are speaking into their future careers and mentoring the next generation of filmmakers. Among other things this offers them a huge leg-up in the college application process.”

The IAI also works with other intra-school institutes on their projects, such as an engineering organization that gives students access to 3-D printers, design software and technology programs. Last semester the two student groups collaborated on “Missperception” and together they designed and built a rolling crane that holds a film camera and was used in the filming process.

In addition to the student-led projects, institute students also have the ability to work on projects with industry professionals. During the remote learning phase of 2020, IAI students spoke into the development of a script produced by Damascus Road Productions and were also virtually on set during some aspects of filming. The film they worked on will have a nationwide theatrical release later this year.

Learn more about Oaks Christian’s IAI Program at