The 11th annual DMV-Travelers Teen Safe Driving Video Contest top-ranking winners were announced on April 22, with Wilton High School bringing home four of the top eight awards. Students were challenged to craft videos about safe driving with the theme, “Wait – What can we do?”

From over 200 competition entries, WHS 10th grader Clara Edgecomb came in 3rd place overall with her original claymation video. She was also awarded with the distinction of having the most creative video and with the use of different media. Freshman Harrison Forland was recognized for his use of teen driving laws in the video.

Video production teacher Maria Naeem let her students know about the competition at the beginning of this school year and encouraged them to enter.

“I wanted students to think outside the box. When I shared the project with them, we watched and judged the previous winners. We discussed the strengths in each. I wanted the students to think about developing a video they know their friends would watch and walk away with the message and remember it,” Naeem says.

Edgecomb has always loved video production and cinematography and thought it would be fun to enter a competition. ‘It was also nice knowing that the competition was to encourage safe driving for teens, so I knew my video would make an impact on an important issue.’ She said

In total, it all took about a month to complete the project and the longest part was coming up with the ideas. “I knew I wanted to try claymation – I’ve worked in clay before, but never claymation, I wasn’t sure about the logistics of it. Once I knew what I was doing, filming went by very quickly. The hardest part while filming was trying to make the mouths move. I had to figure out a way to move it without smudging it, which was very difficult. It took a couple of different methods, but after a while, I started to get the hang of it.”

Filmmaking is in Forland’s DNA.  

“I grew up in a household full of filmmakers. In one way or another several of my family members have been involved in media. In fact, my parents met on a movie set in California,” Forland says. “I can’t watch a movie without my father pointing out unique camera angles and special editing. As annoying as it all can be, it has made me a better filmmaker. I’ve realized I have even started to do the same thing with movies.”

Along with video production, Forland is interested in screenwriting and is in the early stages of working on an original, short screenplay. He is very grateful to have the opportunity to pursue his passion at school and speaks very highly of his teacher, Naeem.

“She is really engaging and pushes us to our best, but is also really informing and helpful for feedback and how to constantly improve our filmmaking.”

The students’ success means that Wilton High School received a total of $5,500 dollars in prize money from the competition, which will enable the WHS video production department to invest in much-needed equipment upgrades.

“I am delighted with the success of our high school students in this competition,” says Fran Kompar, director of digital learning. “Video production is a really important life skill in today’s world. It is critical to allow students opportunities to express themselves in creative and innovative ways.”