Are You Up For The Challenge?

Were you one of the many students on the eternal bus ride to Choate last weekend? If so, you may have missed your fifteen minutes of fame, for you could have been the star of Andover’s two-minute submission to the 2009 Green Cup Challenge Video Contest. But now it’s too late. Sorry. Your Hollywood dreams are hereby ruined, and the golden arches of McDonald’s are calling. Just kidding. But seriously, you missed some extensive filmmaking last weekend, as students prepared submissions for a campus Film Festival on January 16, from which one film will be selected to compete in the Green Cup Challenge Video Contest, alongside videos from forty other schools, including (gasp!) Exeter. Trish Russell, Sustainability Coordinator and Head of the Department of Natural Sciences, created this competition in November with the help of several other dedicated teachers at Andover and Exeter. This is the third year in a row that Phillips Academy has participated in the Green Cup Challenge, a competition sponsored by the Green Schools Alliance that stresses sustainability and energy conservation. The Student Video Contest is only one of the Challenge’s many facets, but it is nevertheless a fun way to kick off the 2009 GCC and raise environmental awareness in participating schools. According to Faiyad Ahmad ’10, the Festival’s student coordinator, “The Film Festival is part of the school’s effort during the Green Cup Challenge to inform the student body about the importance of reducing waste and being environmentally friendly. We plan to show all the films that were created by Andover students and, through some process still undetermined, select one film for submission to the GCC Video Contest.” With the daunting but exciting prospect of trashing Exeter in mind (and recycling them, of course) several groups of Andover students signed up to create their own short films about sustainability. “The films will be made in a 24-hour shoot method, in which the students [will pick up] their cameras [on Saturday], will finish filming their short videos [on Sunday], and will hopefully have them edited and ready for viewing by the end of the weekend,” wrote Ahmad in an email to The Phillipian last week. Even though the project, which involves writing, filming and editing a two-minute video, may seem simple, only nine groups of students were willing to put aside the required time to participate. A well-made video can take a whole weekend to put together, so it is not surprising that at least one group withdrew from the competition. Those who remain involved, however, are committed to their projects. “I’ve been making movies my whole life, and I was just waiting for a chance to come up to make something here. So, when it did, I was like, ‘what the heck?’” said Michael Kontaxis ’11. “I took a video class in the fall, and this just seemed like a really fun way to do more video,” Louisa Chafee ’09 contributed. So how do you make a film about the environment, anyway? A short one, I mean, unlike Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth. From speaking with the filmmakers, it turns out that there are many creative answers out there. “I guess ours is a satirical commercial, not a story,” said Sam Poliquin ’10. “We’ll show an example of how you save energy – in a fun way.” Louisa Chafee ’09 and her team are taking a different approach. “My friends and I are spoofing Monty Python. We’ll do the most famous scenes and put an environmental spin on them,” she explained. “There’s not really much of a plot—just a series of short vignettes showing Monty Python, and then text will appear after saying something like ‘This is why organic is better than pesticides.’” “The name of mine is ‘Live Green or Die Hard’” said Michael Kontaxis ’11. “I’m really bad at explaining it… but it’s about all these different un-environmentally friendly people who are dying because of this guy dressed in all black. One guy realizes that, by recycling, he can kill this guy.” In addition to the film festival, there is a wide array of activities that are occurring over the next few weeks to raise awareness for the environment. There is a Greener Gunga Button Rental lead by EcoAction and a Green Cup Dance set for February 21st, planned by the Student Activities Board. All of these projects are backed by the Sustainability Steering Committee, a committee of Andover administrators who are trying to make Andover a more energy-efficient school. The Committee’s main goal is to reduce consumption for the benefit of the environment of Andover and to save money during this period of financial difficulty. Intrigued? With all the potential for variety, professionalism and hilarity, you should be. So tonight, there are no excuses. Take a break from cruising around campus in your stretch Hummer to enjoy some quality, eco-friendly entertainment.