Side by Side

"Side by Side" is a heartfelt coming-of-age short film that explores the lifelong friendship between two girls, Betty and Jenna. From their first meeting on a kindergarten swing set to navigating the trials and tribulations of adolescence, the story is narrated by Betty who cherishes their bond deeply. The narrative takes a turning point when the girls, now young adults, face the prospect of heading to different universities and the threat of geographical distance. The conflict escalates when Betty gets a scholarship to study in London, leading to their first major fight. The film beautifully captures the depth and resilience of their friendship as they reconcile, reminding viewers that true friendships can withstand even the most challenging of times.

  • John Ashton Fitzhenry
  • Madigan Elizabeth Wirkus
  • Finley Elizabeth Doherty
    Key Cast
    The Sound of Music (Louisa; choreo. Christopher Rice), Mary Poppins (choreo. Clay Thomson)
  • Madigan Elizabeth Wirkus
    Key Cast
    Mary Poppins, Disaster!, Joseph...Dreamcoat
  • Project Type:
  • Runtime:
    7 minutes 31 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    May 14, 2023
  • Production Budget:
    0 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
    Sony APS-C
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
    Yes - Collaboration Between Franklin High School & Mount St. Charles Academy
Director Biography - John Ashton Fitzhenry

John Fitzhenry is a junior at Franklin High School and a musical theatre student at the Franklin School for the Performing Arts. He is passionate about singing, acting, dancing, and playing guitar. He has performed in numerous musicals, such as The SpongeBob Musical, Shrek, Footloose, and Newsies. He is also a member of Electric Youth, a group of talented young performers who showcase their skills in concerts, tours, and special events. John is an enthusiastic and dedicated performer who loves to entertain and inspire audiences with his talent and charisma.

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Director Statement

From the moment Madigan Wirkus’ script landed in my hands, I felt an immediate connection to the characters. The story of Betty and Jenna, meeting as kindergarteners and growing into young adults, was a narrative that felt universal and timeless. The swing set scene, their first encounter, was a symbol of childhood innocence and the beginning of a friendship that would stand the test of time.

Navigating through the script, I was mindful of maintaining the authenticity of their journey. The joys, the conflicts, the separations, and reconciliations - each phase required a delicate touch. The challenge was to ensure that their growth was not just visible, but felt - in their dialogue, their expressions, and their actions.

The turning point, Betty's scholarship to study in London, brought in a crucial conflict - the threat of geographical distance. It was here that the film took a raw, emotional turn. It was essential to handle this conflict with sensitivity, portraying their fight and subsequent reconciliation in a manner that was real, touching, and relatable.

Directing "Side by Side" was a beautiful experience, a journey that allowed me to delve into the nuances of friendship, growth, and the bittersweet taste of change. It was an exploration of human emotions and relationships, a testament to the power of bonds that can weather the stormiest of times.

As a performer, I've always been passionate about connecting with the audience, whether through singing, acting, dancing, or playing the guitar. Directing "Side by Side" gave me a new avenue to reach out to the audience, to share a story that is close to my heart. It was an opportunity to entertain, inspire, and most importantly, to remind viewers of the enduring power of friendship, no matter the distance or differences.

I am John Fitzhenry, a junior at Franklin High School, a musical theatre student at the Franklin School for the Performing Arts, and the director of "Side by Side". This film is not just a narrative; it's a piece of my heart, a story that resonates with the essence of human relationships. And I am thrilled to share it with you.