The first time's a charm for Ward Melville High School senior Nick Fernandez, who directed a video that has won first place in a national competition which drew more than 6,100 entries.
His video, "Félagslega Grímu," was deemed the best in the video category of the annual Association of Texas Photography Instructors contest. Its title means "social mask" in Icelandic.
Fernandez, 17, said he was shocked to learn of his win. "It was very unexpected," he said. "I'd never made a video before."
He described his video, which can be seen here, as a self portrait depicting the "internal battle" over the fear that society was handing him a way of life he didn't want to live. The video is a black-and-white film in which a despairing teen is handed a white mask by a mysterious person; she rejects the mask, which represents that role in life that Fernandez fears he will have to live. It took him a total of seven hours to shoot and edit.
Fernandez said he is set on art education as a career, and lists his art teachers as a big influence in his life. This year in school, he is taking primarily art classes, including video production, senior art seminar, graphic design and sculpture. He is involved in the National Art Honor Society and Cinnabar writing club.
He said the inspiration for the video was "spur of the moment."
"Most of the time when the ideas come to me randomly, those are the ideas that blossom into something," he said.
Fernandez credits his friend Kayla Miller, a fellow senior who was the actress in the video, with helping him win the competition. "We do a lot of stuff together," he said. "She gives me moral support. I probably wouldn't have gotten the award without her."
Miller herself created a video that will be seen on the MSG Varsity show "High School Life" on Saturday at noon on Optimum channel 14. Her video is an informational discussion of the need to be tolerant of gay communities within schools. It was created for Ally Week, which the school district described as "the national youth-led effort to empower students to be allies again anti-LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) bullying, harassment and name-calling in schools."
In the same ATPI video competition, junior Trevor Munch won an honorable mention for his video "Continuity of Parks."