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Victoria East freshman seeks votes for film contest

May 15, 2011 at 12:15 a.m.

Olivia Zimmerman, a freshman at East High School, recently won a spot in a contest sponsored by Sprite Refreshing Films, which gives high school and college students the opportunity to create films. On May 4, Olivia hosted a voting party at East High School, where friends came to text in votes for her short film.

Olivia Zimmerman is a horror film fanatic.

But at the core, the 14-year-old Victoria East High School freshman isn't always watching for the story line; instead, she finds herself critiquing how the movie is shot - why a particular shot was used, and did that angle do the scene justice?

So there is no wonder why winning the opportunity to shoot a short film with a television star was a dream come true.

"It's very exciting," she said. "I want to be a director when I'm older."

The opportunity was through Sprite Refreshing Films, a national filmmaking program that gives students in high school and college the opportunity to create films.

Olivia was among 100 people across the U.S. chosen from 1,000 applicants to work on a film with Jennifer Stone, the star of "Wizards of Waverly Place" on the Disney Channel.

She entered one of the My Coke Rewards contests and got in.

In early May, Olivia hosted a party in the choir room of her high school to get the word out for her school to vote for the short film. Voting ends May 31.

Her production team, simply named Dallas, was at 11 percent of the votes against Chicago, which had 46 percent, and Los Angeles, which had 42 percent.

Olivia is not discouraged.

"We're here to get the votes higher," she said as her friends danced and sang to Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance." "Anybody can vote."

If her team wins, she and the others will advance to show their film at a major film festival screening in June.

The short 12-minute film is called "Fresh Studio" and is about Stone, who thinks Valentine's Day is commercial and is set out to cancel the holiday.

Olivia even makes a cameo at the beginning of the film as a student on a school laptop.

The opportunity was a taste at real filmmaking, Olivia said.

"Since I was 12, I've been editing little short films," she said.

Olivia started off using Windows Movie Maker, but has now grown into using Final Cut Pro, one of the leading video editing programs.

Olivia has done small commercials and snip-its for herself and friends.

Her mother, Julie Zimmerman, watched from the corner of the choir room as Olivia owned the crowd, trying to get them to vote.

"I'm amazed someone her age can do this," she said.

Zimmerman adopted Olivia at 10 months old from Haiti. Zimmerman has background in film as well.

She worked as a creative director for television shows like "Murder She Wrote" and the Steven Spielberg movie "Jurassic Park."

Being adopted, she's not sure how exactly Olivia gained such an interest in film.

"She has none of my DNA," she said laughing. "She's learning everything and I'm right there for her."

Olivia is somewhat of the shy type. Her voice is calming, but authoritative.

Her sentences, short and succinct.

"She's been there giving me a lot of support," she said of her mother.

One of Olivia's closest friends, Jade Hayes, also a 14-year-old freshman, stood by her friend, her hair dyed in green to support Sprite but more so, her best friend.

"She's always been very talented in the media area," Jade said. "She did an amazing job."

As excited as Olivia was to rub elbows with some stars, the real thrill was working alongside other students interested in what she loves.

"It's self influence," she said.



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