Riley Michelin is the kind of student who will go out of her way to make friends with the new kid in class. As a young filmmaker, her talent speaks volumes. But it was her kind nature that led students and faculty to surprise her with a trip to New York City to see her short film “Hey, Dad" live at the All American High School Film Festival.
Starring Calvary Christian Academy students Luke DiLiddo and Bella Del Busto, the short film
follows brother and sister as they adapt to the "new normal" after the loss of their father. “It is my hope that, through the film, I can show how the bond of family can get you through anything,” said Riley. “My film teacher, Mr. Ordoñez, encouraged me to make this film, and he helped me with every step of the process. “Hey, Dad” was the first time I was able to write as direct my own film, so I was very nervous. Having a person that was there to help me and guide me through the process made me more confident in myself and my film.” The film was well received at the CCA Film & Video Showcase, which motivated Riley to submit it to festivals throughout the country. It was accepted to the 2018 All American High School Film Festival
and would be screened in Times Square in New York City. Due to financial reasons, however, Riley wouldn’t get to see her film.
Ambyr Dack, fellow student and friend of Riley’s, sent out the bat signal when she learned that Riley wouldn’t be able to attend. “Throughout the years, I watched Riley’s interest in film grow. She became a part of Film Endorsement and even helped teach a film class to middle schoolers,” said Ambyr. “Over the summer Riley got news that [her film] had been accepted to [the AAHS Film Festival]. After finding out I immediately asked if she was going to go. Sadly, her answer was no, there was no way she could afford to go.” As the event approached, Ambyr felt she needed to do something. “I knew how much this meant to her, but I had no idea how to help.”
Not willing to settle for defeat, Ambyr shared the situation with Pastor Bill Schott, faculty overseer of the high school student club Acts of Random Kindness (ARK). The purpose of the club is “to improve, inspire, and bless the community around us” through, you guessed it, random acts of kindness! It was clear that this opportunity to send Riley to see her film in New York fit the bill.
"I am hopeful that this will inspire others to find ways to serve their peers and community for the Lord."
The Friday before the festival, Pastor Bill Schott and Mr. Ordoñez, CCA Film Teacher, arranged for a special announcement to celebrate Riley’s success with her film. They called Riley and Ambyr up to the stage and shared that Ambyr had collected notes of encouragement from Riley’s friends. As he opened the envelope, Riley soon discovered the “notes” were actually two plane tickets.
In just one week Ambyr and friends organized enough money to send both Riley and her mom to New York to attend the All American High School Film Festival, with all access passes to the festival, plane tickets, hotel, and food. “Riley was in complete shock. After chapel, all the students that donated, along with her mom and aunt went to lunch in The Grill
where we all explained to her [what happened] the past week. She was still in complete shock, but of course incredibly excited and grateful. I am hopeful that this will inspire others to find ways to serve their peers and community for the Lord,” said Ambyr.
In addition to the All American High School Film Festival, "Hey, Dad" has been accepted to the Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival
and will be screened Saturday, November 3 at Savor Cinema in Fort Lauderdale. Tickets
for the High School screening are free!