RED BANK – The Count Basie Theatre has revealed the films that will compete in its inaugural PROJECT FX statewide student film festival and competition, taking place at the Red Bank theatre on Sunday, April 19, 2015.

The competing films – ten entries from Garden State high schoolers and an additional ten entries from students attending New Jersey colleges – are viewable now at and The public can have their say by “liking” or “sharing” the films on Facebook, which will figure into each film’s final score. Films will also be viewed and voted on by a panel of esteemed adjudicators, including Sony Pictures Classics co-founder and Middletown resident Tom Bernard; New Jersey Council On The Arts Executive Director Nick Paleologos; Michael Uslan, who has served as a producer on every Batman film; television producer Michael Vickerman; Broadway producer Kate Lear; Taking Back Sunday lead singer John Nolan, and others.

The PROJECT FX Festival will feature panels from industry experts and professors from several New Jersey colleges, a big-screen showing of each contending film, and an exclusive evening screening of Lambert & Stamp, the upcoming Sony Pictures Classics release about underground filmmakers who stumble upon an unknown band to portray in a documentary. That band would go on to be known as The Who. The winning high school and college films will also serve as “opening acts” prior to Lambert & Stamp. Entry into the festival is free, though advance tickets must be obtained by visiting

“This is an exciting opportunity for me and for Sony Pictures Classics, as we have an opportunity to perhaps discover New Jersey’s next great filmmaker,” said Sony Pictures Classics Co-President Tom Bernard. “From Fort Lee’s early days as the motion picture capitol of America to home state heroes like Nicholson, Streep and Travolta, to pop-culture moments like Clerks or Garden State, Project FX can reignite the state’s great cinematic history.”


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High school and college PROJECT FX finalists are vying for the ultimate grand prize: a paid internship with Sony Pictures Classics’ offices in Manhattan.

Second place winners in each category will receive Sony video cameras, while third-place finishers will receive a $500 cash prize.

A full list of competitors and judges is included below. Publications interested in interviewing any student competitor may place their request with Count Basie Theatre PR, which will have the student reach out directly.

Competing Films:


KATHY SNYDER: THE DOCUMENTARY (Nicole Andriani, Southern Regional High School, Manahawkin): A short documentary on Kathy Snyder, Varsity Field Hockey and girls Basketball coach and gym teacher at Southern Regional, who passed away unexpectedly on January 24th, 2014.

147 (Joseph Ballavia, Christian Brothers Academy, Lincroft): A young girl writes about the atrocities that occur around her until one of them hits very close to home.

THE DEVIL’S TREE (Ken Dwyer, Howell High School, Howell): New Jersey is filled with myths & legends. Some are the stuff of nightmares. A quartet of friends take a new fraternity pledge out for his initiation. The challenge is simple-take a swing at a supposedly cursed tree. What could go wrong? Inspired by stories published in Weird NJ Magazine.

TWURGE: THE TWITTER PURGE (Gregory Markowitz, Thomas Jefferson Arts Academy, Elizabeth): A group of high school students faces the consequences of illegally posting nudes and inappropriate pictures of classmates on Twitter.

ALMOST A SILENT FILM (Seth Rosenthal, Henry Hudson High School, Highlands): Eric, a silent film star, walks down a street in a silent film. With the help of the writer, and a studio audience, Eric teaches a mime the difference between “your” and “you’re” then the truth behind his world.

8.3 (Talia Zinder, Princeton High School, Princeton): A young, unassuming girl goes on a quiet rampage to try to ‘purify’ the technologically-advanced modern society.

THE QUEST: EQUALIZING ACHIEVEMENT (Tatianna Sims, Princeton High School, Princeton): A documentary that addresses the Achievement Gap and possible solutions. The main focus is to showcase the perspectives of students, educators, and parents about their experiences within the educational system.

OUT: A COMING OUT DOCUMENTARY (Tommy Fletcher, Communications High School, Wall): Two LGBTQ teenagers share their coming out stories and how they felt before, during, and after their experiences in hopes that they will help others thinking of coming out.

DINNER (Spencer Muhlstock, Ridgewood High School, Ridgewood): A dark comedy portraying the disconnect of a modern-day family as they sit down for dinner.

THE SESSION (Dylan McCormick, Middletown High School South, Middletown): A man desperately needs to speak with his psychiatrist.


WAFFLE (Nick Capra, Bridgewater, NJ; Montclair State University): A boy named Waffle doesn’t realize how terrible his relationship with his girlfriend is. But with the help of a friend, a fortune teller, and his waffle-headed subconscious, he learns to not be such a pushover.

THE HARDWARE INCIDENT (Eric Brody, Cream Ridge; Mercer County Community College): An impulsive assumption leads a hardware store clerk into a killer twist.

THE YOUTH (Jeanpaul Isaccs, New Brunswick; Rutgers University): The creative adult is the child that survived.

LET’S DO NOTHING (Anthony King, Clark; Rutgers University): A couple finds themselves getting ready for the day to find out that they’d rather do nothing at all.

HIM AND HERoin (Vinnie Laraway, Union; Seton Hall University): After inadvertently killing his junkie girlfriend with a heroin overdose, Ryan sacrifices everything to be with the love of his life once more.

EXPLICIT IMAGES (Michelle Martinez, Clifton; Montclair State University): When an episode of sexting-gone-wrong hits home, a teenage girl must face the consequences of her actions.

ANIMUS (Eric Massimino; Eatontown; Monmouth University): Animus is a non-dialogue film about the daily torture a father suffers after losing his son to a drunk driver.

ASBURY LANES (Jacob Vernick, Ocean; Brookdale Community College): This is a short documentary about Asbury Lanes in Asbury Park, NJ and the threat of eminent domain that is always looming.

NO SLEEP (Alexa Werrlein, Bridgewater; Raritan Valley Community College): Ceili is tired. Alone. Sad. And she can’t quite figure out why. She drones through her day fueled only by the copious cups of coffee and pills she consumes. As the whispers in her head begin to meld into reality, Ceili finds herself on the brink of sanity.

SPIRITS OF THE LIBRARY (Katelyn Kildea Maylie, Lawrenceville; Rider University): A short documentary on suspicious activity at a library in Burlington County, NJ.

 Tom Bernard, Co-president/founder, Sony Pictures Classics
 Alex Biese (Film critic, entertainment reporter, Asbury Park Press)
 TJ Bryan, WJRZ / Shore Flicks
 Nena Danevic, Film Editor
 Etta Rudolf Denk, Senior VP, Bank Of America
 Joan Ellis, Film Critic (Two River Times)
 David Iserson, Writer/Producer (Saturday Night Live, New Girl, Mad Men)
 Kate Lear, Broadway Producer (Of Mice and Men, Catch Me If You Can)
 John Nolan, Lead Singer, Taking Back Sunday / Straylight Run
 Robert O’Connor, OneFilmFest
 Nick Paleologos, Executive Director, NJ Council On The Arts
 Adam Philipson, President / CEO, Count Basie Theatre
 Linda Safran (Viewer, Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences)
 Michael Uslan, Producer (All BATMAN franchise films, Daytime Emmy award winner for ‘Where On Is Carmen Sandiego)
 Michael Vickerman, Writer/Director/Producer (Tut)
 Alycia Yerves, Two River Theater

For more information about PROJECT FX or other Count Basie Theatre events, contact Jonathan Vena at [email protected] / 732-224-8778 x 107

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Allan Dean

Allan Dean is editor, publisher, and founder of the Atlantic Highlands Herald. Published since 1999 and selected in 2000 by the Borough of Atlantic Highlands as one of their official newspapers, making...