Teen Deer Park’s Award-Winning Horror Film Heads to New York Festival

Six student filmmakers from Deer Park hope the horror movie they made last year, ‘When Night Falls’, will win more honors when they attend the 2022 All America High School Film Festival October 22-23 in New York.

“I’m very excited to be going,” said Luke McKinley, a senior in Deer Park High School’s advanced broadcast journalism class, who was the film’s co-director, lead editor and co-writer.

Fellow senior Alejandra Acosta can’t wait to see “When Night Falls” – a cautionary tale about youngsters who decided to take a shortcut through the dark woods after a trick or treat – and other official selections from the festival screenings at the AMC Empire Theater in Times Square.

Joining them will be four 2022 Deer Park High graduates who helped create the film, including co-director Cesar Renteria and Alyssa Ferrell, Donny Perez and Gage Zabala.

“They’re in college now,” said Jared Creel, the school’s video-audio technology teacher, who will accompany the group along with Kari Murphy, the school’s director of technology.

The film can be viewed here.

Filmmakers will be treated to a private opening night with dinner and a dance cruise around Manhattan, on-site film competitions, professional industry panels and workshops, and an interactive technology and exhibitor showcase.

The winners of the 10th annual festival will be announced Oct. 23 at an awards ceremony to be held at the Kings Theater in Brooklyn. More than $500,000 in prizes and scholarships will be presented, according to the festival website, hsfilmfest.com.

New movie planned

Upon their return, McKinley and Acosta plan to put the finishing touches on the script for a new movie that will most likely be shot during the winter break.

The school’s foray into film began in 2017 when Creel enlisted three journalism students to write the script for “Phenomena,” which they based on stories of paranormal activity at Deer Park High, told by students, alumni and staff. .

Phenomena” ranked third among top schools in Texas in the 2018 College Interscholastic League State Film Competition before winning Best Horror/Sci-Fi Fantasy Short at the 2018 All American High School Film Festival this fall.

In 2019, Deer Park High entered the film “But For the Birds On the Roof,” which placed second in the University Interscholastic League’s “social impact” category.

In 2020, the school placed second in UIL among top schools in Texas in the “narrative” category with a fictional drama titled “A Bond Between Time.”
“When Night Falls” was a finalist in the 2022 UIL competition.

Although McKinley is also a student in the school’s sports journalism class, he plans to study biomedical engineering at Texas A&M University.

Acosta was the costume designer and set designer for “When Night Falls,” in which she “also held lights and made herself useful” while filming it.

“I would like to study cinema and progress in the film industry,” she said.

His ultimate goal? To win an Oscar, she said.

Don Maines is a freelance writer who can be contacted at [email protected]