Upper School student Winston Verdult’s filmmaking has taken him to exceptional heights during his senior year at St. Margaret’s, as he has been honored by the prestigious YoungArts program and is one of 60 nominees nationwide for the U.S. Presidential Scholars in the Arts, one of the nation’s highest honors for high school students.
Winston was initially named a YoungArts finalist for his short film Chasm. For being named a finalist, Winston traveled to Miami to participate in YoungArts Week. There, he attended workshops, networked with other filmmakers and collaborators, and participated in masterclasses with film industry professionals.
“Being a YoungArts finalist is a really big deal and will open so many doors for him,” St. Margaret’s film teacher Karen Bennett said. “In the past, YoungArts finalists have had the privilege of having their films and screenplays workshopped with professional filmmakers and received substantial funding toward their next film project.”
Winston said that his participation in YoungArts Week included the creation of a film, where he collaborated with other filmmakers to write a script and produce a film using professional actors and RED cameras set up with professional and vintage lenses, remote focus equipment, and various styles of camera rigs.
“This experience really helped me deep dive into what a film set will be like in the industry,” Winston said. “It taught me the importance of collaboration as an artist as well as how to run a set. It also gave me a new appreciation for how much work goes into the industry standard filmmaking process.”
Winston also attended performances put on by artists from a variety of disciplines while in Miami at the New World Symphony. He met composers, singer-songwriters, fashion designers, visual artists, dancers and musicians.
“I had so much fun networking with different disciplinary artists and I am definitely going to be collaborating with them in the future,” he said.
The honors weren’t done, though. After returning from Miami, Winston was notified that he was one of 60 nominees for the 2023 U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts
. His application will be reviewed by the White House Commission on Presidential Scholars, which will select 20 high school seniors to be recognized as U.S. Presidential Scholars in the Arts this spring.
Winston was also informed that he was awarded a Gold Award in film by YoungArts, the highest honor given. The Gold Award comes with a monetary prize, in addition to the networking, microgrant opportunities and more from being a YoungArts alumnus.
You can view his award-winning film Chasm
at this link