Two short films made by local Boys and Girls Club members were selected to be part of the 29th annual Atlanta Film Festival.

Alex Kinsley, a member of the Thunderbirds branch in Guadalupe, had his anti-drug short film shown. Michael Heaps, a member of the Grant Woods branch in Mesa, had his awardwinning short film selected that’s about a new club member and how he adapts to the Boys and Girls Club.

"I was really surprised and excited," said Kinsley, 16, a junior at McClintock High School in Tempe.

The Boys and Girls Clubs of America collaborated with the Atlanta Film Festival this year, showing 12 films on June 16 that were made by club members, said Christine Kotula, director of technology programs and training for the Boys and Girls Clubs of America.

The 12 films chosen were the "best of the best" and selected from about 500 films. Judges went through the content of the past three years of the clubs’ digital art contests, and also screened films on the YouthNet Web site that connects club members, Kotula said.

"We looked for originality, the use of editing equipment, how well it was put together and whether the storyline made sense," said Kotula, who lives in Atlanta. "It’s kind of neat for us to be premiered next to films that were also in the Sundance Film Festival."

Kinsley’s anti-drug film, "Soar to New Heights," uses a countdown format and tiled pictures used in the television show "24." The 1 minute and 20 second film portrays Kinsley as a drug-abusing young man whose life changes in 50 seconds.

"It’s about how one decision can change your life," said Kinsley, who made the film in a week with the help of Intel computer clubhouse coordinator Jon Ooms, club member Patrick Willgohs and computer programs.

"It turned out a lot better than I expected," Ooms said. "The way the camera angles worked out, I was amazed."

Kotula said the "24" style format of Kinsley’s film was what earned it a spot at the film festival.

"It was something different and something very original," Kotula said.

The other local short film shown, Heaps’ "One Voice, One Club, One World," received a national moviemaking award last year in the Boys and Girls Clubs digital art contest.

Heaps directed, filmed and edited the short with the help of club members Sean Kelly, who helped film, and Joel Bueno, who helped edit and act in the video. The three are now staff members at the Mesa club.

Club member Ruben Tellez created the original music used in the film and Josh Bussey, the Mesa club’s computer education director, also helped the club members.

The short, which is just under 2 minutes, took three weeks to make using computer programs.

"I saw it and I knew it was good, but I didn’t know what the others were doing," said Heaps, 16, a club member for four years who modeled the film after his experiences at the club. "It’s pretty unbelievable."

The short was selected for the film festival because it was "just excellently done," Kotula said.

"They knew when to blur, when to pull things forward and when to set things in the background," Kotula said. "The (Boys and Girls Clubs of the) East Valley has always been very strong in technology. They are one of the leaders."

The Mesa film is available to view online at

(1) comment


Can't believe this was 12 years ago! We loved this, and can't speak highly enough about the gentleman behind it.

-Best wishes from all of us at Tempe Family Dentistry

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