Sincerely, a Student

Artist Statement - Maya Bernardes

Within the power of my camera lens, I seek to spread a powerful message through filmmaking. My short film, “Sincerely, A Student,” revolves around the need to start a conversation about gun control, directly addressing and writing a letter to the National Rifle Association. The film begins with a Student sketching, when a moment later, received a text from her teacher (Ms. Loesch) reminding her students to complete an assignment for school. Readily, she pulls out her notebook only to view a message written on the front cover by a friend on Valentine’s Day the year before; evoking waves of memories and emotion within the Student herself. As she flips the pages, completely forgetting why she’s pulled it out in the first place, she begins to receive more flashbacks to last year’s tragedy at Stoneman Douglas. It hits her. The feeling of urgency and a sudden yearn to write something, anything. She wants to get her message across- as soon as possible. The letter consists of direct quotes from the NRA, all with the sole purpose of directing the real problem away, guns.
While in the process of writing “Sincerely, A Student,” I tried to find a way to connect with the viewer in a way that was soul-stirring yet momentous enough so they too, can start a conversation about gun control. The character, Student, I wrote to play anonymously simply to speak for students globally. Talking to the actress that performed her, Julia Schneider, immediately agreed to bring Student to life because she states, “this needs to be talked about.” Working alongside Julia was impactful for the both of us, she was able to actively perform Student the way I pictured her. In between takes we’d converse about Student’s mannerisms throughout the film. For instance, the way she twirls the marker with her fingers to show the viewer she was contemplating writing the letter. Often, young people of this generation are nervous to speak up on controversial topics, including gun control. I did it the only way I know how- writing a narrative with a moving picture.
Post-production was the most challenging yet exciting part of the entire process, but I needed some assistance. With the help of Luke Knell, a fellow editor, he was able to guide me throughout the ins and outs of raw editing. Collaborating with peers of similar interest is a major key to being a filmmaker, in my opinion. Experimenting with the impact of music, cut scenes, and voice-overs all compressed my artistic view in storytelling. Within the four minute time limit, I wanted to tell a story about a Student wanting her voice to be heard and truth be told to those in power, as a call for action.

  • Maya Bernardes
  • Maya Bernardes
  • Maya Bernardes
  • Julia Schneider
    Key Cast
  • Luke Knell
  • Project Type:
  • Runtime:
    3 minutes 31 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    April 6, 2019
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
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  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director - Maya Bernardes