George Lucas, step aside. Up-and-coming filmmaker Austin Smith is premiering his science fiction short, “Death Run,” at the Sonoma International Film Festival and he’s already earning two-thumbs-up reviews.
“He’s going to be the next ‘Star Wars’,” said Peter Hansen, Austin’s filmmaking instructor.
Austin is only 16, just in his sophomore year at Sonoma Valley High School. And he already has a red-carpet moment for his resume.
Austin is a student in the media arts program at the local high school, one of several student filmmakers screening 18 of their works at the 16th annual film festival, which completes its five-day run on Sunday.
“Death Run” showcases computer-generated zombies and futuristic alien attacks playing out at warp speed. Austin created his film with the school’s state-of-the-art cameras, computers and production equipment, available thanks to community and film industry donations exceeding $600,000.
The expansive, six-room media arts department features professional-quality audio and video equipment, a broadcast studio, control room and high-tech editing stations with specialty computers and software.
Austin was among the 150 students lucky enough to get into the electives program. Other teens anxious to learn about filmmaking and broadcast journalism are on a waiting list.
For kids like Austin, video arts is a natural fit.