Name, Age: Ben Adler, 17
Accomplishment: Winning the overall prize and creative category at the Greenwich Youth Film Festival
Key to Awesomeness: Lacrosse Captain Ben Adler's team may not have beat at , but he did get a piece of exciting news at halftime.
"We were kind of down and my dad came running across the field," he recalled. "I was supposed to be sad because we were losing, but I couldn't help but laugh and smile a bit."
Adler decided to join his team for the rivalry matchup rather than attend the Greenwich Youth Film Festival, where his short film Addiction (see adjacent YouTube video) was entered in the creative category.
And his father delivered the news of his win not only in that category, but the overall festival, which earned him a cash prize of $2,000 and a trip to New Mexico this summer to work on a film set of Greenwich producer Clayton Pecorin.
Adler said he has been interested in filmmaking since middle school, when, "I came across a copy of a special effects program."
Inspired by superhero films and Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight, he got into a TV production class his freshman year of high school and started making films on his own.
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While superheroes may have been a jumping off point for Adler, Addiction explored a more serious topic.
"It is about a guy who has a drug addiction," he shared, careful not to spill the film's twist at the end.
"I was looking for something simple," Adler added of the process. "I knew it had to be relatively short and keep people interested."
He started with the idea for the shocking end of the film and worked backwards from there.
"I kind of wrote down the basic idea and free-styled it while I shot it," he explained.
Not only did Addiction take home the festival's top prize, but Adler also received high praise from Ron Howard:
A terse, tense tail with a surprising twist at the end that actually made me get up. Not an easy feat. I have seen many twists in my 50 years in the business. Addiction was beautifully shot, scripted and acted with an innovative and simple premise—a premise that held to the end. Kudos."
In the fall, Adler will attend the University of Texas film program.
"Austin is a really good city for the arts," he said. "I like that it's a big school and there's a really good [film] program down there."
As for his future in filmmaking—"I like entertaining people," he shared.
"It's fun to write down a story. I like writing the story as much as I like directing."