Unionville High teens take chance with film and win

Short movie earns second-place finish in statewide competition

By Kathleen Brady Shea, Managing Editor, The Times

Unionville High students Alan Dembek (from left), Molly Basilio, and Adam Carl show off their second-place prize for "Chances of," a digital short movie.

Unionville High students Alan Dembek (from left), Molly Basilio, and Adam Carl show off their second-place prize for “Chances of,” a digital short movie.

The boy gets the girl in the film, and its Unionville High creators come up winners, too.

“Chances of,” a nearly five-minute short written by Unionville seniors Adam Carl and Alan Dembek, won second place Wednesday out of 22 entries statewide in the digital movie category of the Pennsylvania High School Computer Fair at Dickinson College in Carlisle.

Starring sophomore Abu Akki and freshman Caroline Salisbury, the film depicts a boy’s awkward and often humorous efforts to take a girl he likes to a dance. It boasts an original score by junior Shawn O’Donnell and seniors Tim Pollick, and Andrew Popeo, and no narration, relying on the actors’ facial expressions.

Dembek was familiar with the state contest, which first required a win at the district level. A month before the qualifying round at the Chester County Intermediate Unit, he and Carl signed up – with no script in mind. “We just put our names down,” said Carl. “That pressure really helped to drive the film.”

"Chance Of," a short film by Adam Carl and Alan Dembek, won second place.

“Chances of,” a short film by Adam Carl and Alan Dembek, won second place in the digital movie category at the Pennsylvania High School Computer Fair.

After an inspiring meal at Buffalo Wild Wings, the pair had a plan, they said. They decided to focus on the school’s MORP, a dance known as the anti-prom that features its backwards spelling.  The script then evolved backwards as well, requiring the writers to devise a beginning that would lead up to the dance. Then reality interfered: Filming at MORP was not permitted without getting hundreds of waivers, they said.

So Dembek, Carl and Basilio worked some Hollywood magic to recreate the scene a day after the dance – and three days before their deadline. Basilio assembled 120 glow-lite bracelets, 50 necklaces, six light-up mouthpieces, 10 LED light-up balloons, 20 neon balloons – and then added some candy to entice the extras.

Basilio’s bribe worked: 53 people showed up. Dembek directed the photography and Carl handled the sound. “It actually worked better,” Carl said of the staged event, “because we got to go into the crowd.”

Dembek said the film would not have happened without support from a host of people, including teachers Betsy Hickman and Jimmy Conley, who provided editing skills, and Dembek’s ninth-period public-speaking classmates, who did an in-class reading.

He said the list of assistants, which includes Geordie Massih and Ashish Streatfield, is so long that he’s likely to forget people. “If you had anything at all to do with this, thank you so much,” he said. “We went from having an idea in our head to an entire film in four weeks, and we couldn’t have done it without everyone’s support.”

Jean Stevens, from Unionville’s computer applications department, accompanied the filmmakers to both the county and state competition, where they were awarded a check for $100. Since the total will have to be split three ways, the winnings probably won’t cover the group’s costs, but the experience paid huge dividends, they said. “We really learned a lot,” Carl said. “We feel we can go on to something better.”

Carl said CDAV (Carl Dembek Audio-Visual) Productions started out as a joke. He said he and Dembek designed a logo for fun, eventually adding it to the film’s opening. Now with a second-place finish and new ideas percolating, it’s likely destined for some serious use, they said.

The Pennsylvania High School Computer Fair is an annual event that highlights Pennsylvania high school students’ application skills and computer knowledge, according to its web site. Students are able to unleash their creativity, learn how to convey information more dynamically, and enhance the learning process.

To view Carl and Dembek’s creation, visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y-JwJLspDjw


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  1. Savy Leiser says:

    I have the utmost respect for people who go all-out on movies. Awesome job, guys!! 🙂

  2. Vidya Rajan says:

    Congratulations and well done! It was well conceived, well acted and well produced. Kudos to you all.

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