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Guest Blogger Bailey Pickens: What Does It Mean to Be a Storyteller?

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“Through the Lens” — Bryant High School

“What does it mean to be a storyteller,” a voice asks in the first few opening seconds of “Life at 24.” As an English/Literary Studies major at Hendrix College, I spend a great deal of my time pondering this exact question, and while most of my time is spent pondering the precise impact of each word on a page, I also love watching stories unfold on film in general and, now, as an intern in the AETN Production Department.

Student Selects: Life at 24

“Life at 24” — Har-Ber High School

There’s something undoubtedly special about film as a medium for storytelling. “Life at 24” makes that perfectly clear from its very first scene. The aforementioned question is delivered to the audience in a voiceover against an idyllic shot of the sun shining over water. The time of day colors the sky above and the water below, with the two being separated only by the shadowy skyline. In these first few seconds, I am entranced.

Student Selects: Life at 24

“Life at 24” — Har-Ber High School

As the film moves on, the voice contemplates the exact nature of storytelling and the relationship that storytelling shares with the audience who watches and listens: “For that brief moment in time, we allow people to escape their own realities.” This year’s “Student Selects: A Young Filmmakers’ Showcase” films do an excellent job of doing just this: allowing the audience to become enchanted with the story before them, so much so that they can travel from one reality (the real world) to another (the world of the film).

Student Selects: Lost

“Lost” — Bentonville High School

One of the most memorable films to achieve this, in my eyes, is “Lost.” I was drawn into the world of the film by the prominent showcasing of the setting and how the character moves through it — it enticed me to leave my intern desk behind and become lost alongside the main character. I became entangled in the main character’s journey, invested in whether or not we would both escape — a feeling of absorption that I attribute to the film’s sparing use of dialogue, coupled with somewhat eerie music and the indistinguishable murmurs that occur every now and then.

Student Selects: The After Party

“The After Party” — Dardanelle High School

Not only are this year’s Student Selects films achieving what “Life at 24” describes as the meaning of storytelling, but the stories that the students are choosing to tell this year do not disappoint. It can be easy to see the adjective “student” in the phrase “student films” and suddenly have a completely different set of expectations than one would have if presented with just the word “films.” However, the Students Selects films shouldn’t be underestimated.

Student Selects: Feminism

“Feminism” — Springdale High School

These students don’t shy away from talking about big issues. From “Feminism PSA,” which outlines the definition of the term “feminism” and the assumptions that can be associated with the word to “Numb,” which depicts the main characters struggle with depression, these students have chosen to craft exciting and thought-provoking story lines.

Student Selects: Numb

“Numb” — Fayetteville High School

Students Selects is an amazing program that showcases the many young, talented filmmakers that Arkansas has to offer and the stories that they wish to tell. The program is open to students ranging from kindergarten through 12th grade, and accepts all sorts of submissions, including documentaries, narratives, animation and music videos, thereby insuring that any and all stories can be told.


Be sure to tune in to AETN’s “Student Selects: A Young Filmmakers’ Showcase” broadcast on Friday, Sept. 9 at 8 p.m. to see a two-hour marathon featuring the student films mentioned, along with many others.


For more information on the Student Selects program, please visit

To find details about interning with AETN, visit

Author Bailey Pickens is a Hendrix College student and AETN Production Department Intern.