They didn’t want to give a profound message about taking the high road. They wanted to make people laugh.
AAST graduates Payton Heleine and Liam Conley won first place in the Young Filmmakers Project, a statewide competition involving a specific, random creative challenge.
The challenge: Create a video, no longer than two minutes, that includes a compass.
Entries were scored by a panel of independent judges and the Top 10 videos were screened at the Nickelodeon Theatre in Columbia where the winners were announced.
Judged on script and story, production value, design and style, and overall impact, the competition was hosted by Trident Technical College and the South Carolina Film Commission.
Heleine and Conley have worked together and won together before, and this was the fourth first-place award the duo has taken.
“We didn’t want to go the route everyone else would go, which was making the compass a moral compass,” Heleine said. “When Liam and I work together, we do goofy things, so we decided to make it funny and built the video around a magic compass.”
“Pay and I have very similar senses of humor, so when we have the opportunity to make someone laugh, we take it,” Conley said.
“With a two-minute video, there isn’t time to make something that will get people emotionally involved, so we thought this was the best route.”
Other entries were far more serious, such as the one called “Bittersweet Childhood Memories.”
The winning video shows the two friends, who are scientists, getting lost on a walk, trying to make it back to their lab where they’re on the brink of curing the common cold.
The plot thickens when Constantine Mexas, who acts in the video along with Jacob Sean Dulson, trips over the compass and the boys decided to follow it.
How they get back to their lab is questionable, as Mexas assumes the W on the compass stands for WORK.
The guys end up in random places such as in front of the White House, in front of Trident Technical College and on the moon.
It turns out that the magic compass allows its users to travel just by imagining where they want to be.
In keeping with Heleine’s personal tradition, that was Bojangles, where he went every day after school, so that’s where the video ended.
Payton Heleine – named after Walter Payton of the Chicago Bears – lives in Socastee and is the son of Rosy Garcia and Steve Heleine.
He has an older brother and a younger sister and has been in the area from Wilson, North Carolina since kindergarten.
After spending the summer bussing tables at Olive Garden, he’ll go to Shepherd University in West Virginia.
Heleine’s ultimate goal is to make movies in Hollywood.
“I’m a big fan of movies,” he said, adding that if he’s not working or sleeping, he’s watching a movie.
“I like to see the camera angles, the story, everything about the movie,” he said.
Liam Conley, who lives in Carolina Forest, is the son of Sheila and Michael Conley and is the youngest of two brothers.
A native of Durham, North Carolina, he’s been a local since he was 4 years old.
Heading to Clemson in a couple months to lock in a screenwriting career, Conley will spend the summer working at Cinemark Movie Theater in Coastal Grand Mall.
Conley predicts the future of movies changing, in that they will stream on venues such as Netflix instead of being in theatres.
“You’ll see theaters start to die out because it’s a lot more comfortable to watch movies at home,” he said.
Heleine and Conley are both satisfied with the $500 first-place pot that they shared, as well as with the outcome of the video they collaborated on.
“We were successful,” Heleine said. “The whole theater was laughing at our video.”