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Young filmmakers use creativity, comedy in award-winning videos

Students take top prizes in film competition

East Kentwood junior Nuha Hussein talks about her entry into the Mosaic Mobile competition

Multiple districts — Students got creative with their phones, a prop, a theme and a saying for the Mosaic Film Experience 2023 Mosaic Mobile competition and the results are short videos rich with expression, humor and irony. 

The annual filmmaking competition challenges high-school students to film and edit a two- to three-minute film entirely on their mobile devices. This year, 45 videos were submitted from 10 different high schools. 

Here is a look at the winners and their films:

Junior Nuha Hussein
First Place: “Tell Me More” 
East Kentwood High School

Nuha Hussein loves music, videos and storytelling — elements she combined to create the three-minute film “Tell Me More” that won her top honors and $1,000 in the Mosaic festival.

Nuha created a story about a young girl dreaming about her future, finding out more about herself and transforming into an old woman.  She followed Mosaic’s guidelines of using transformation as a theme, a bag as a prop and the saying “Tell Me More,” which she used as her title. It was chosen as the top film out of 45 submitted from 10 high schools. 

“I was very happy. I appreciate the people that run Mosaic. The board members are very diverse and they offer opportunities for students who also are of diverse cultures,” said Nuha, whose mom is Jewish and white and whose father is Palestinian. “I appreciate them giving students around the districts the opportunity to be a part of it.

From left, Mosaic Film Experience founder Skot Welch; GRPS alum and current Columbia University student and filmmaker, Mariah Barrera present the first place award to and East Kentwood junior Nuha Hussein

“My culture inspires me as well. It makes me feel like I can let it out (through film) and let people know who I am, and make people who are from my culture also feel comfortable expressing themselves.”

She set her video in a wooded area outside her home and at her grandmother’s house, capturing swaying grass and leaves. Her little sister, Asmaa Hussein, a fifth-grader at Meadowlawn Elementary, and her grandmother, Carol Naigus, starred in the film. She edited with the program CapCut and added a song from the local band Underbelly.

Nuha, who covers sports and other assignments for East Kentwood’s student broadcasting class Falcon News Network, said she’s interested in a career in video related to music or comedy. 

Sophomore Kai Stuive
Second Place: “Script of Complaint”
City High Middle School

Kai Stuive hates the self-referential humor of “meta jokes” — or so their second-place entry, “Script of Complaint,” would have you believe.

The clip is a crash course in commentary about the conventions of filmmaking, during which Kai takes aim at narrative tropes and film competitions in general, griping about rules and regulations before conforming to those very guidelines at the whim of some unseen off-screen force.

Kai, who uses he/they pronouns, grumbles about transitions just as a sudden camera cut finds them inexplicably “tossed” into another room; bemoans prop requirements before finding a trash bag in hand; and rails against character development before revealing a perspective shift due to a lesson learned.

City High Middle 10th-grader Kai Stuive accepts a $500 check for second place in the Mosaic Mobile competition (courtesy)

It plays as equal parts sincere and irreverent, earnest and cynical. Kai said the idea was born of frustration from a botched attempt to get a Mosaic submission together last year, as part of a group.

“I didn’t have the best experience with it,” Kai said, adding that the project was never completed or submitted. This time, the choice was to poke fun at the whole thing, with some unintended positive results.

“While I was working on it, I ended up realizing that I was having a lot of fun with this,” Kai said. “I kind of went through that transformation while I was working on the project. I did end up having a pretty good time.”

The change comes to light during a perspective shift near the end, where Kai proclaims, “Film competitions are actually wonderful. They encourage creativity and they help young people get interested in filmmaking.”

The clip wraps up with Kai gleefully stating, “This is why I hate meta jokes.”

But that’s not entirely accurate.

“I think meta jokes can be done right. … I don’t dislike them. I think if I disliked them I wouldn’t have enjoyed making this project.”

Kai can’t quite believe that the entry snagged a second-place award, and a $500 prize to boot.

“I’m still a little bit in shock.”

‘While I was working on it, I ended up realizing that I was having a lot of fun with this. I kind of went through that transformation while I was working on the project.’

— 10th-grader Kai Stuive

Seniors Brayde Kietzman and Toby Okhuysen 
Rick Wilson Memorial Award via public vote: Mr. Know-it-All,”
Byron Center High School

Filmmaking duo, seniors Brayde Kietzman and Toby Okhuysen, won over the people with their short film, a tale of curiosity and plastic spoons that started as an assignment for teacher Julie Vanderlaan’s filmmaking class.

Facing the precedent of students entering drama films in the competition, Brayde asked: “What if we just had spoons everywhere?”

“We figured a lot of the films would take a more dramatic turn, but we wanted to take a more comedic approach to our film,” he said. 

Having a background in using editing software, Brayde said there was a learning curve to filming with a smartphone and using the iMovie app

“We had to navigate the limits of using iMovie, but it tests how you can overcome the limits to create something new,” he said. 

From left, Mosaic Film Experience founder Skot Welch; GRPS alum and current Columbia University student and filmmaker, Mariah Barrera; and Byron Center High School seniors Brayde Kietzman and Toby Okhuysen (courtesy)

Toby said they learned a lot about framing, getting the right camera angles while filming and a variety so things don’t look too similar. 

Looking forward to their lives after graduation, Toby said Brayde is the future filmmaker, but that he has different plans for his future. 

“Filmmaking is really fun, but I want to pursue something in Earth science,” Toby said. “I have a lot of creative energy. Even though I’m not looking to go into a creative field professionally, I’m thinking about how I can apply creative aspects to science.”

He added: “Art is in everything. There needs to be people who can think of new things using limited resources.”

Alexis Stark and Riley Kelley contributed to this story.

Read more: 
K-12 education meets Medical Mile meets filmmaking
Film class ‘teaches us how to be whole’

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Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese is managing editor and reporter, covering Kentwood, Lowell and Wyoming. She was one of the original SNN staff writers, helping launch the site in 2013, and enjoys fulfilling the mission of sharing the stories of public education. She has worked as a journalist in the Grand Rapids area since 2000. A graduate of Central Michigan University, she has written for The Grand Rapids Press, Advance Newspapers, On-the-Town Magazine and Group Tour Media. Read Erin's full bio


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