Bellevue College student Amelia Burnatowski, 19, won the Audience Award for her short film called “Tides” at the National Film Festival for Talented Youth on April 25 in the Identify Yourself category. Her entry was the only one from Washington state. “Tides” is a short film about a man who deals with loss. ” I wanted people to see and understand that you may not have control of what happens to you in your life but you have control over how you react to it,” said Burnatowski, who throughout her film shows the viewers that “meditation can be used in dealing with life, that it helps ground you and find yourself, think clearly, relieve stress.”
The storyline came when Burnatowski said she was brainstorming ideas at dinner but was distracted by her family because they were arguing loudly. She just wanted to get away, but sat there and went into a meditative state and that is when her idea of this story about a guy who meditates a situation in his life came alive. “The title reminds me of that scene in ‘Castaway’ where Tom Hanks says, ‘so now I know what I have to do. I have to keep breathing. And tomorrow the sun will rise, and who knows what the tide will bring in,’ and that quote has always stuck with me, so maybe subconsciously that’s why I named my film that. It just reminds me of life, things come and go and it’ll always be that way and it’s sort of encouraging in that sense. I just love the ocean, meditation, Buddhism and yoga and I wanted to make a film that depicts how I view the world. I also wanted to make a film that helps people and affects people in a positive way. I always looked to films to feel less alone, especially Indie movies because of their tendency to focus on the human condition,” said Burnatowski.
Even though the film is based on a gay couple, Burnatowski doesn’t want sexuality to be the main focus of her film, but to realize that everyone is human and life experiences bring about the same feelings for everyone. Anyone can relate to this film, it is not centered for one type of person, but for all. Burnatowski started writing this story in October and says that it took two weeks to find the story and finish writing it. “Once I figured out how I was going to work in the past and present time lines and how I was going to introduce them, it was easy; it was that part that was the hardest and took the longest.” The actors consisted of her friends who did not have any acting experience. “My friends were a major support system to me and teachers at Bellevue College, when it came down to criticism and watching my film,” said Burnatowski. “I think her film is impressive. This is her first dramatic short and I thought she did a great job. It’s a wonderful little story. That’s really the biggest challenge for someone trying to do a film – coming up with a compelling story. And she wrote a great script,” said Rick Otte, director of Television Services. “She learned to appreciate the saying that a film is never finished – you just stop working on it.”
Burnatowski has been volunteering with NFFTY since 2011 at the merchandise table. “NFFTY is such an amazing, encouraging festival; they really inspired me to try filmmaking and I knew I wanted to submit a film one day, I thought I’d be 22 towards the cutoff age, and didn’t expect to even get in but just to say that I made a film and I did it.” Burnatowski, who has been applying to film schools,put“Tides”onher application and NFFTY’s submission deadline was coming up, so with the encouragement of a friend, Burnatowski submitted “Tides” to the festival.
Burnatowski has applied to New York University and is currently waiting on their decision. “I want to do film production. ‘Tides’ was my first time writing and directing and so I’m leaning towards directing but editing was my first passion and definitely drives me on how I make and visualize a film since I was an editor before anything else. I want to keep making shorts for a while then eventually move on to feature films, I definitely want to do the whole festival scene for a while and I’ll just see where life takes me after that.”
Burnatowski says she looks up to Lena Dunham, especially her writing and acting that are all impressive in Burnatowski’s eyes. “‘Tiny Furniture’ was my first indie film I watched that I instantly fell in love with. Also the fact that she’s in her 20s is inspiring, I would die working for Lena, even being a PA.”
Burnatowski says she loves to watch movies, “I would always imagine and re-enact moments in my life as if it were a film, I’d envision okay a cut here, medium shot here, I just love being able to visualize an idea, image, film and be able to create exactly what I see. I also view it as an art form more than anything, that film is a way I express my feelings, thoughts, and opinions and through that I want to bring diversity into the industry along with entertaining people and educating them. If I could enlighten just one audience member through one of my films, or make them feel exactly what I wanted to make them feel, then I reached my goal.”
This is Burnatowski’s last quarter at BC, she is taking her last portfolio class she needs and one advanced track class. According to Burnatowski, all of her classes have helped her, especially video fundamentals, editing and streaming and the advanced track courses.
Burnatowski says that she found something she really liked and went after it whether or not anyone would be supportive or give her positive or negative feedback. This encouraged her to do better and to show everyone that she can do it by herself. “My advice is if you have a positive attitude and passion for what you do, it’ll bring support…eventually.”
Burnatowski’s short film “Tides” can be viewed on http:// vimeo.com/89061770.