The journey toward becoming a filmmaker began simply enough for local 15-year-old Lauren Havel. In 2018, she enrolled in a film camp sponsored by Island Rec. Those classes ignited a movie making passion that is leading Lauren toward a full-blown career.
“By day two, I was hooked,” Lauren said. “I went home and started making little skits with my friends on an old camcorder.”
Lauren is already well on her way toward a career in film. On Aug. 31 her first fictional movie, “Screened-In,” will be available on Vimeo on Demand.
Last year, the Friday Harbor Film Festival showcased her first film, “I Hate Kate,” amongst her fellow student filmmakers. The anti-bullying documentary can be viewed on YouTube, at www.youtube.com/watch?v=A90Wv_1pNJo.
Each film genre comes with a unique set of obstacles, Lauren said. Creating a documentary requires recording hours worth of interviews, she added. The filmmaker is then tasked to turn those interviews into a cohesive story while utilizing B-roll. B-roll refers to any supplemental video. The supplemental footage can consist of shots taken by a second unit crew or collected from stock footage libraries. Challenges for feature films, Lauren continued, include scriptwriting, casting and acting.
“It’s been fun for me to experiment with both but I feel features and shorts are where I thrive,” Lauren said.
Lauren explained that while many attempted to dissuade her from undertaking such a massive project, after co-writing the script with her mom, her friends and family climbed on board.
The storyline of “Screened-In” centers around Peyton Hawthorn, played by Presley Clark, 17, and her friends. The group realize their phones have taken over their lives.
“What once promised freedom has become their ball and chain,” Lauren said. Together the friends attempt to tackle their addiction. Calamity ensues, and it is unclear whether the teens will persevere.
Besides Lauren and Clark, islanders will likely recognize many of the other cast members including Anne Marie Ryan; Elliot and Lewis Grooms; Anabelle Mountford; Zaleee Schemmell; Joshua Mellinger; Georgia Keune; Jillian Otis; Luke Fincher; Ramona Flierl; Marina Wenner; and Atziry Oroxco.
The film has some action, as professional stunt people were involved, Lauren said. Clark’s father Ken Clark, who not only has decades of stunt experience but co-owns a Hollywood stunt company, helped the teens.
“We had already written a scene in ‘Screened-In’ that we knew would require a stunt coordinator, we were thrilled to find out that such help existed on the island,” Lauren said.
The San Juan Island Emergency Medical Services and San Juan Island Fire and Rescue also assisted during one scene.
“My mom made some phone calls to coordinate the time and location of filming,” Lauren said, adding that the first responder crew was on call and ready to run in the case of a real emergency. “Thankfully, I was able to get the footage I needed quickly that day.”
Lauren added that having an aversion to anything medical made it difficult for her to edit the EMS scene.
“I had to stay completely detached emotionally, which was quite a challenge since the scene was really intense,” she said.
Then, COVID struck.
“Filming during COVID was our biggest challenge,” Havel said. “It was tricky remembering to take our masks off when the camera started rolling [and staying] socially distanced from other actors without it looking unnatural.”
The filming took place after Phase Two began.
Due to COVID risks, one of the actors wasn’t allowed in the same building as the others, according to Lauren. This added to the complications of filming during a pandemic.
Less than one year after beginning the epic filmmaking journey, “Screened-In” was finally complete. Unfortunately, due to the film’s length and given that “Screened-In” is not a documentary, Lauren said, it does not fit the Friday Harbor Film Festivals qualifications.
“Perhaps they’ll make an exception,” Lauren said.
To view the trailer visit www.youtube.com/watch?v=xN0h4nAiVzY.
“I would love to thank our amazing community for all the ways they supported my mom and me throughout the project,” Lauren said. “From people who opened up their homes to us, to those who let us use their businesses and all of our amazing actors, we never could have done this without their help.”