Digital Filmmaking Pathway

Ballard High School Digital Filmmaking Program 

Digital Film photo

Since its beginning in the fall of 2001, students from the Ballard Digital Filmmaking Program have won hundreds of awards at regional, national, and international film festivals. Based on their portfolios they have won honors from the National YoungArts Foundation and the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (at the Northwest Emmy Awards) and consistently gained admission to prestigious college film and television programs, sometimes with large scholarships and advanced placement. (Recent graduates have gone on to the Australian Film, Television & Radio School, Chapman University, Columbia College of Chicago, Emerson College, Loyola Marymount University, New York University, the Rhode Island School of Design, and the University of Southern California – all college programs ranked by the Hollywood Reporter as among the best for film and television production in the world.) They have also been invited to show their work and make presentations at the Seattle Art Museum, numerous film festivals, and conferences. The program has provided professional production internships through a variety of media organizations and businesses, television shows, and feature films. A Professional Advisory Committee supports the program.

How to Apply

The Digital Filmmaking Program is open to BHS students of all grades. Students planning to pursue degrees or careers in film/television production, broadcast journalism, art, advertising, media studies, or public relations should enroll no later than their sophomore year to begin to build a portfolio that meets college and industry application requirements. To enter the Program, an application pdf icon is required for the two semester class. Students successfully completing each year of the program are invited to apply for the next. The program is potentially four years, giving students the opportunity to build diverse portfolios. The classes are electives, fulfill either the Fine Art or the Occupational Education requirement, and result in a digital portfolio. Refer to the BHS Course Catalog pdf icon for more information.Digital Film photo

BHS Digital Filmmaking Program Information

BHS Digital Filmmaking Blog:

Additional Resource:

Contact: Matt Lawrence
Ballard High School Digital Filmmaking
206-252-1117 or

Digital Filmmaking Program Application pdf icon
Deadline for Grade 8 is Fri, May 12
Deadline for Grade 9 is Fri, March 24

Breaking News!


Photo of Skala LeakeSkala Leake, a junior in Ballard High School’s Digital Filmmaking Program, has been awarded an Honorable Mention in Cinematic Arts by the National YoungArts Foundation for her short film Comeback. The award was given in recognition of the “exceptional artistic achievement” evident in her work. Honorable Mention is the second tier of honors awarded by YoungArts, above the Merit Award and second only to their top prize.

The YoungArts program identifies and supports young talent in the areas of music, theater, visual arts, photography, writing, and cinematic arts. Skala’s work was selected for honors from thousands of submissions through a blind adjudication process by a nationally and internationally renowned panel of judges, master teachers, and artists. She pitched Comeback to her filmmaking class last winter. It was selected for production, and she worked with classmates Avery Davis, Cameron Miller, and Aaron Miller to realize her story of a promising soccer player facing a life-altering setback. Since premiering at the Ballard Film Festival last June, Comeback had its national premiere at the All American High School Film Festival in New York City in early October, and was screened at the Portland Art Museum on November 12 as a winner in Fresh Film Northwest – a festival that receives competition from 5 Northwest states as well as the province of British Columbia. Comeback can now be seen online at . After high school, Skala plans to study media arts in college.

The award comes with a college recommendation from YoungArts, as well as an invitation for Skala to participate in the YoungArts regional programs. Previous YoungArts winners in the Digital Filmmaking Program have gone on to top-ranked college programs for film and television and successful careers in the film industry. For more information on the BHS Digital Filmmaking Program, visit


BHS Digital Filmmakers jpgThree short films by students from the BHS Digital Filmmaking Program were winners at Fresh Film Northwest.  

This competitive regional festival is coordinated by the Northwest Film Center in Portland, Oregon.   Entries accepted from filmmakers ages 13 to 19 in Alaska, British Columbia, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington.  Twelve years in a row now that students from Ballard’s Digital Filmmaking Program have been among the winners. 

The winning films included Comeback, by Avery Davis, Skala Leake, Aaron Miller and Cameron Miller – the story of a high school soccer player who suffers a life-altering setback.  The film recently premiered at the national All American High School Film Festival in New York City.  Fresh Film Northwest was the premiere of Living Honestly, a documentary about teens coming out by PJ Hase and Skala Leake. The third film, Eileen, was produced independently by Brendan Hickey with Sam Cleary and received the Creative Expression Award.

National Festival Selects Ballard's Digital Filmmaking Program To Produce Documentaries For IMAX! - October 7, 2016

Ballard High School’s Digital Filmmaking Program was one of five “exemplary” programs chosen by the All American High School Film Festival (AAHSFF) to receive a $5,000 “In Focus” grant from IMAX. The All American High School Film Festival is the largest high school film festival in the nation, drawing competition from all across the country. The announcement was made Friday, October 7th, during the festival’s Opening Night ceremonies in New York City.

"We selected programs that produced quality content in the voice of young people that's raw and meaningful to their peers. We have a library of content of about 5,000 films and identified programs that consistently submitted quality work" said Tom Oliva, Executive Director of the AAHSFF. "We also looked at schools that we have relationships with, and that we count on to mentor the students to produce the best films possible." 

The five selected student film programs will create short films that raise awareness of the UN's 2030 sustainability agenda, creating original content to specifically address at least one of the UN's development goals. 

For info on the AAHSFF, visit For details on the "In Focus" grant from IMAX READ MORE

Ballard Film Students Win National Awards from Academy - October 4, 2016

When the envelopes were opened at the Newseum in Washington D.C. on Oct. 4, the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences announced two films by students in Ballard High School’s Digital Filmmaking Program as winners of National Student Production Awards. The films were judged by members of the Academy, as well as college media professors.

Winning the prize for best Music Video was Today, by Coleman Andersen, PJ Hase & Bergen Johnson. The prize for best Editing went to Miles Andersen, Emily Black, Sophie DeGreen, Jesse Romero & Sho Schrock for their work on Hologram. Both films can be viewed on the Digital Filmmaking Program’s vimeo page at  READ MORE

BHS Filmmakers Win Big at the Emmy Awards - June 4, 2016

Students in the Ballard High School Digital Filmmaking Program won four High School Awards of Excellence at the Northwest Emmy Awards on June 4. Jonny Cechony, Ellie Clarrissimeaux, and PJ Hase won the Short Form Fiction award for their film The Dragon's Lair. The Public Service Announcement award went to Elliott Atkinson, Cyrus Ogle and Bailey Wall for Protect Your Hearing. The students had produced this project for Seattle’s Hearing, Speech & Deafness Center. The Music Video prize went to Coleman Andersen, PJ Hase and Bergen Johnson for Today, and Best Photographer/Editor went to Miles Andersen, Emily Black, Sophie DeGreen, Jesse Romero and Sho Schrock for Hologram. Students from the BHS Digital Filmmaking Program led the pack of winners, winning every category in which they had been nominated. (They had received 13 nominations.)  This is the tenth year in a row that Ballard students have been winners at the event, and the fifth straight year they have won the award for Photographer/Editor.  READ MORE

Ballard Film Students Win Best Music Video at International Festival - May 7, 2016

Big Coat, a music video by Jaya Flanary, Duncan Gowdy and Leo Pfeifer, won Best Music Video in the junior division at the CineYouth Awards on Saturday night, May 7, at Columbia College Chicago. CineYouth is a project of the Chicago International Film Festival. This annual film showcase celebrates shorts by filmmakers 22 and younger from around the world. As winner of the prize for Best Music Video, Big Coat will be screened in the CineYouth “Best of the Fest” at the 52nd Chicago International Film Festival next October. Big Coat can be screened online at For more information on the BHS Digital Filmmaking Program, visit

Ballard Films to Screen At International Festival - May 2016

Two productions by nine students in the Ballard High School Digital Filmmaking Program have been chosen for screening this weekend at CineYouth – the Chicago International Film Festival’s showcase for shorts by filmmakers 22 and younger from around the world.  Both are music videos. Voices (by Jonathan Bowers, Aurore Bouriot, Brian Cropp, and Jake Rehfeldt) depicts a high school student hemmed in on all sides by conformity. Big Coat (by Jaya Flanary, Duncan Gowdy, and Leo Pfeifer) charts the changes brought about by the presence – and absence – of romance. Both films will be screened at the 12th annual event in Chicago, May 5 – 7. READ MORE

Academy Nominates Ballard High School Filmmakers - May 2016

The Northwest Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (NATAS) has announced nominees for the Northwest High School Awards of Excellence.  These awards celebrate the most outstanding productions from five Northwest states: Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana and Alaska. Productions are nominated by NATAS industry professionals. Students from Ballard High School Digital Filmmaking Program earned thirteen nominations, more than twice the number of any other school or organization in the five-state region. The winners will be announced on June 4th at the 53rd Annual Northwest Emmy Awards. READ MORE

NFFTY To Feature Shorts by BHS Filmmakers - April 2016

Five short films by sixteen students in the Ballard High School Digital Filmmaking Program have been named Official Selections of the National Film Festival for Talented Youth (NFFTY).  This competitive, international festival showcases outstanding work by filmmakers age 24 and younger. NFFTY is a rare opportunity for high school students to share the spotlight with college students from our nation’s best undergraduate and graduate film schools. This year NFFTY will feature 227 films from 24 countries and 33 states. NFFTY opens at the Seattle Cinerama Theater on Thursday, April 28 and continues through Sunday, May 1 at the Seattle Center. READ MORE

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