LAYTON -- Think of it as the Oscars, just minus a red carpet and the aged veteran filmmakers.
The teen directors set to debut their latest tonight at Layton High School's True Blue Film Festival are nothing if not fresh-faced and new.
The fourth annual festival, free and open to the public, will feature 54 short works by dozens of Layton High students whose creations include public service announcements, music videos, film trailers, documentaries and five-second comedies.
The festival's founder is Eric Scholer, digital media production teacher, who arrived at Layton High four years ago.
"Four students approached me and wanted to hold a festival so they could display some of their work," Scholer said. "We sat down, discussed the details and put on our first film festival. The students were the MCs."
The audience numbered about 150 that first year. By year three, it had nearly doubled.
"The quality of the work has improved," Scholer said. "We have a lot more sponsors from the community, and this year we have more judges."
Besides Scholer and his wife -- both media teachers who own a production company -- judges will include another local video maker and a Weber State professor with film expertise.
After the screenings, students will learn the prejudged winners in six categories. The audience favorite award will be decided by a vote on Friday night.
Layton residents Joseph "Future George Lucas" Balaich and Spencer "Future Walt Disney/Steven Spielberg" Scarlet have entered a film trailer for their upcoming 90-minute film. It's "Star Wars: Modern Day Jedi Knight," about people living in a modern world, but with light sabers.
The two plan a film release event next week, which will consist of setting up a table and selling DVDs for $1 in the LHS hallway.
"I love filming because it expresses a part of myself," said Balaich, 19. "I don't care if I ever walk a red carpet. I want to show people how I see the world. Making films is so fun, who wouldn't want to do it?"
Scarlet, 16, hopes for a career making animated comedies.
"You can do so much with it," he said. "You can do things nobody would ever expect. You're creating your own work of art on your own canvas. For me, this is what I am going to do, and there is no turning back."
The two are sure of their commitment in part because of troubles on the "Modern Day Jedi Knight" set. They went through three leading men. Let's just say teen boys without iron-clad contracts often have other things on their minds. But video extras, on the welding together of light sabers and on bloopers, should more than make up for any minor issues with film continuity.
Scholer said his students seem to gain a lot from the True Blue Film Festival.
"They learn the digital editing process and how to make a film," Scholer said. "They learn to compete in something like this, and how to put together a film festival. They make video advertisements, and they run the festival themselves."
Both Balaich and Scarlet competed last year. Balaich's entries included a five-second comedy about two guys attempting to high-five each other, but failing due to banana peels. Scarlet made a five-second comedy about balloons making rude noises, one expected, one not.
"You can't blink or you miss the five-second comedies," Balaich said. "In fact, they show them each twice, so you can be sure of what you just saw."
Both filmmakers will add their film credits and any festival wins to their resumes.
"It's a great steppingstone to the future," Scarlet said. "We all know our first films aren't going to be the best films we ever make, but it feels like a great accomplishment when people watch your work, then they pat you on the back. It makes you want to do this for the rest of your life."