Student-hosted film festival showcases Steamboat artists, benefits search and rescue
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — In the second phase of their Routt County CEO class, the seven juniors and seniors from four high schools were tasked with coming up with an event — a group business to carry out from inception to fruition.
They were initially leaning toward a talent show but switched gears when they heard another organization in town was planning something similar.
Thus came about the idea for an outdoor-themed film festival, “WZ GOT FILM.”
The March 1 event at the Chief Theater in Steamboat Springs has a threefold mission, explained CEO class facilitator Mitch Globe. First, it would showcase local and regional filmmaking talent. Second, it would help the students learn about running a business, including making a profit.
Third, the film festival has a philanthropic aim, raising money for Routt County Search and Rescue.
“It’s a great way to support the local community,” said Hayden Entresse, a senior at Yampa Valley High School.
The events provide local artists a venue, she said, including feature artist and accomplished ski film director Tyler Hamlet, who will have three short films shown during the event.
Through a live auction, the film festival will also benefit the local Search and Rescue, Entresse said, in addition to “supporting our local class.”
“And it’s going to be a lot of fun,” added Maria Santiago, a Steamboat Springs High School senior.
Tickets are $20 and available online at chieftheater.com or can be purchased at the door. The event will last about two hours, during which about 15 films will be shown. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.
Ranging from professional filmmakers to amateur high school students, all filmmakers have a local connection, Globe said.
Hamlet, a Steamboat native, was once a student of Globe’s. Many of the films will be debuting at the festival, Santiago noted, and for some, it will be the only time they are shown. The films were narrowed down from about 25 submissions, Globe said.
While the students are still building a collection of auction items, they’ve solicited a number of donations and plan to buy a few more out of their class bank account.
In addition to a number of locally-produced outdoor products, other items including Nuggets tickets, a helicopter ride and hopefully, some ski passes. There will also be some free giveaways in between the film showings, during which the CEO class students will introduce themselves.
One hundred percent of auction proceeds will go to Routt County Search and Rescue, the organization chosen by the students based on the outdoor adventure theme.
Each student took on a different job. Entresse has been focusing on the marketing side of the event: designing the poster, working with a local graphic designer and getting the word out on social media.
Santiago took the role first as chief financial officer before transitioning to the chief operating officer. She’s been working on communicating with the venue, programming for the evening, getting auction items and “making sure people are doing what they are supposed to be doing.”
The unique hands-on CEO class is in its second year, with Globe joining this year. It is funded by a group of investors, and while students earn credit at their individual schools, it is not affiliated with any high school.
The students spend half the class out in the field — touring about 40 local businesses ranging from coffee shops and automotive repair shops to paddle board manufacturers and national retail chains, hearing their stories and asking the business owners questions. Each student is assigned a mentor to work with throughout the class.
Hearing firsthand from the owners, Entresse said she’s learned that running a business is an achievable goal.
“But you have to be driven, and you have to passionate about and like what you are doing,” Entresse added.
Santiago said now that she’s seen what it takes to run a business, she also believes it is “more manageable” than she initially thought.
For the first phase of the class, the students created a “badge” on which they sold advertisements. The students agreed to wear the badges whenever they were out visiting businesses and while in class.
After the film festival, the students will spend the remainder of the class focusing on the third phase — their individual businesses — culminating in a “trade show.”
Entresse is creating a dairy-free and gluten-free dessert cookbook.
“I’ve been eating so many cookies,” she said of her recipe-testing process.
Santiago is working on a program in which students earn money as translators and interpreters within their respective high schools. Other class business endeavors include handmade bullwhips, portable ski rails, a food truck bakery, Steamboat-themed sports apparel and an “errand running” service.
The money earned from the film fest’s ticket sales will provide some of the seed money for the individual businesses.
The community-centric focus goes far beyond the class projects, Globe noted.
“The original design of the whole program is to go full circle in the community,” he said, with the idea of graduating students who go on to become successful local entrepreneurs. “Why leave Steamboat if they don’t have to?”
For Entresse and Santiago, running a business may or may not be in their futures. Entresse wants to study biology, and Santiago has always been drawn toward teaching.
“Before I never thought about wanting to run a business,” Santiago said, “Now, it’s all I talk about.”
Regardless of what she does, “Learning how a business works is such an important thing,” said Entresse. “Everything around us is driven by business — the lessons apply to everything.”
“The world is changing,” Globe said of the future his students face. “They need more options.” The CEO class, he said, “gives the students a different perspective on life and careers — and one of the best parts is the connections they make with people in the community.”
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