LHS Video and Podcasting Club: Students Turned Filmmakers


used with permission by Ahna Gainey

Cinematography and audio directors Garrett Calusdian (left midground) and Spencer McIntyre (right midground) set up a shot for “Facade”. This picture features some of the cast and crew of the film during production, with actors Sean O’Mara (right) and Josh Truesdale (left) in the foreground and extras Annika Suckow (left) and Makenzie Gainey (right) in the background.

Update: The winning films were announced on Friday, May 28. Out of 54 submitted films, “Façade” won fifth place. Click the hyperlinks to view “Façade” and the rest of the films in the NHHSSFF YouTube playlist.

The Video and Podcasting Club may not be the largest club at LHS, but member count is no way to measure effort. From cinematography to writing to editing, this group of students is fully dedicated to filmmaking and everything that goes on both in the scenes and behind them.

Karen Robinson, the adviser of Video and Podcasting, teaches Basic Video and Online Multimedia. Initially, the club started out as the Radio Club, which then evolved into the Podcasting Club. Eventually, interest in a group for video production rose, and Robinson decided to combine it with the club, turning it into what it is today. 

“In the last couple of years, the students who joined were interested in video, not podcasting,” Robinson said. “So the focus of the club now is to offer students a way to create video projects without being enrolled in a class.”

As of last year, Robinson has started entering the club into the New Hampshire High School Short Film Festival (NHHSSFF). Last year, unfortunately, production was never completed, as the COVID-19 lockdowns prevented the film from actually being shot, so this current year is the club’s first entry into the competition.

A flier hangs outside of the Multimedia Studio in Londonderry Highschool celebrating Sean O’Mara’s winning of the 2020 NHHSSFF Halloween PSA Challenge. O’Mara’s submission, “Even Scarier” was a short film that called for people to wear masks while out in public using a slasher-like metaphor. (Photo by Josh Truesdale)

“Since we couldn’t complete our film last year, we began this year determined to create a film and enter it in the festival,” Robinson said back in early April. “The submission deadline is April 30, and we’re confident that we can be done in time.”

However, outside of the club, one of Robinson’s past classes created submissions for the festival. According to Robinson, LHS has had eight or nine of its submissions screened (if a film is screened, that means that it has the potential to win the festival), one of which, “Just Another Ski Movie” was chosen as First Runner-Up in 2014.

“I used to teach a video production class that participated in the film festival for several years,” Robinson said. “Unfortunately, due to low enrollment, the class hasn’t run for the past few years. That’s why I was excited to have the opportunity to enter with this group of interested students as a club instead of through a class.”

This year, the club worked on a horror/drama film titled “Façade.” Quarantining and COVID-19 restrictions made production slow and difficult, however, it has been completed and submitted.

Actor Colby Lynch performs an emotional scene for “A Guilty Conscience” while Sean O’Mara and Ahna Gainey record it. (Photo by Josh Truesdale)

“It’s really hard to do a project like this when we only meet once a week, and for the first semester this year we only met virtually,” Robinson said. “The club is small, but the dedication of the group is why we’re able to make this happen.”

“Façade” stars Ahna Gainey as Mia Rogers, Josh Truesdale as Noah Sallow, and Sean O’Mara as Aiden Hall, along with Bree Dumont, Annika Suckow, Makenzie Gainey, and Olivia Colliton as extras. The production crew consists of Garrett Calusdian, Spencer McIntyre, and Olivia Colliton.

But there is more than just the club’s submission to the NHHSSFF. Individual members of the group also worked on creating their own independent submissions, some for other classes, some for their own personal enjoyment. 

LHS sophomore Sean O’Mara is one of these students, as he worked on his own film for his independent study. Harboring a great interest in filmmaking, O’Mara has been a part of the club since the early months of his freshman year. Last year, he won first place in the NHHSSFF 2020 Halloween PSA Challenge with “Even Scarier.”

“I kind of started in third grade, when I had a YouTube channel that I would make little skits for,” O’Mara said. “I didn’t do much in middle school, then eventually freshman year came. I was looking for clubs to get into, and I saw Video Club, so I joined.”

O’Mara played the role of Aiden Hall in “Façade” as well as assisted with off-camera duties, however, he also led the production of his own film, “A Guilty Conscience.” Being the sole writer, director, and editor of the entire film, O’Mara gained experience and learned a lot while both on and off set.

Director Sean O’Mara signals to a far-off Colby Lynch to begin the scene while Ahna Gainey stands off to the side with a boom mic on the set of “A Guilty Conscience.” While shooting many of the complicated truck scenes, O’Mara had to get creative with giving directions in order to get the exact shot he wanted, as he was unable to directly communicate with Lynch for short periods of time. (Photo by Josh Truesdale)

“I guess that I gained the ‘overall experience’,” O’Mara said. “Being on set, talking to the actors–that’s definitely new. It was a somewhat difficult experience trying to communicate how to have someone else move a certain way and convey certain emotions, even though I have it all in my head. I need to somehow communicate with them well enough so that they are able to do it for me.”

“A Guilty Conscience” is a short drama starring Colby Lynch as the lead role of Hugh. Ahna Gainey is responsible for audio, and, along with O’Mara, made up the other part of the production team during filming. 

Both “Façade” and “A Guilty Conscience” were completed and submitted in April and are now in the process of being reviewed to determine whether or not they will be screened. Given the huge amounts of effort put into both films, all members of both production crews have confidence that the films have good chances at making it far into the competition or even a shot at winning first place.

“But there’s always kind of the fear that maybe the film isn’t as good as it could be or that you’re not developing it the right way,” O’Mara said. “I think, though, that we did go the right way, and that the two films have great shots in the festival.”

Finding a good idea and then going the right way with it is the most difficult part of filmmaking for me.”

— Sean O'Mara