FALLBROOK, Calif. (KGTV) — Four Fallbrook High school students are headed to New Jersey after winning big in the Montclair Film Festival.
"I'm really excited. I didn't expect to win. Our teacher suggested we submit it [film] and now we're going to New Jersey," said Skyler Garcia, one of the winners in the festival's student category.
"This was a big step for me, and I remember getting the news. I started crying because of pure joy hearing it. It was amazing," said Adam Rodarte, another winner.
Rodarte helped bring the school's film program back to life in 2019 after it was canceled a few years back.
"They said, 'get a paper and get 30 people to sign it.' I got 60 signatures in about a week and brought it to the principal," Rodarte said.
Thanks to his efforts, students in the program were able to hone in on their passion for film while studying at home amid the pandemic.
Many students used the class as an outlet to express their feelings through their award-winning films.
"I know me, and a lot of other students struggled with the same things, so it felt good to share it with other people," said freshman, Taylor Christenson.
Christenson's short film portrayed the anxiety and depression students felt while in isolation. While Rodarte's film focused on minority relations with police.
"I wanted to portray what's going and show it can happen to anyone any day," said Rodarte.
The students won't be headed to Hollywood yet, but they're now getting ready to head to New Jersey for the film festival. They said it's the perfect destination for being their first one in a while.