Most 14-year-olds like to watch movies with cool visual effects, but not so many make their own. Graham Raubvogel of Burlington is an exception. On June 22 the high schooler won first prize at the annual Santa Monica Teen Film Festival for his 9-minute short "Keeping Time," about a boy struggling to readjust to life after his mother's death. While the subject matter is not unique, Raubvogel explores it using a variety of creative shots and effects to convey the character's alienation. In one scene, Oscar (played by fellow Burlington High student Colin DeVarney) has a conversation with several images of himself that represent fragments of his personality.
Reached by phone from a summer filmmaking camp, Raubvogel says that scene required "about 130 different shots, composited with Abobe AfterEffects." For a long tracking shot in Battery Park, he built a dolly from scrap wood, skateboard wheels and PVC pipe. Total cost of the production: "A little over $100," says Raubvogel. His camera and other equipment were loaners from Vermont Community Access Media.
Raubvogel has been "going around with a video camera" since he was 8, making "really bad home movies," he says. He got more professional when he began working at CCTV Channel 17 as a community service project for his bar mitzvah, which led to six months directing "Live at 5:25."
The Santa Monica Fest prize comes with a $350 Best Buy gift certificate and a meeting with 2929 Productions, the company that made Good Night, and Good Luck. Raubvogel hopes to fly to the West Coast for that in August. For now, he says, he wants to "keep on making short films and try to get recognized. I don't see myself as Michael Bay," he adds referring to the guy behind Transformers "but I do see myself directing films that require lots of visual effects."