- Last Updated on 02 August 2012
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By Audrey Spencer
Killeen Daily Herald
COPPERAS COVE — A group of Copperas Cove High School students and alumni returned from the Great American No Bull Teen Video Awards in San Francisco as first-prize winners.
Recent CCHS graduates Austin Barker, Samantha Cochran and Kasey Adams and senior Caleb Miles created, "The Formula: A High School Thesis" for the anti-bullying video competition and won first place last weekend. They competed against 15 videos made by teens across the country.
"I flipped out," said Barker, who directed the five-minute film. "I couldn't believe it. All the hopes and dreams we'd had all of a sudden became nothing compared to what just happened."
For the accomplishment, Barker won a three-episode production deal worth $10,000, a trip to the Sundance Film Festival in 2013 where his film will be submitted as a short film documentary and a $5,000 scholarship, according to a news release from the Copperas Cove Independent School District.
Jana Perry, faculty adviser for the filmmakers, said she was delighted for her students.
By the time announcers were about to reveal the runners-up and first-place videos, Perry said there were only a few that hadn't been called for any other awards.
"They called third place, second place, then the runner-up. There were only two left and we were one of them," she said.
Even through the excitement of travel, meeting other student filmmakers from around the country and being introduced to celebrities such as singer Sean Kingston and director of the recent independent film "Bully," Lee Hirsch, the students remain mindful of the reason behind their work.
Cochran, who appeared in the video and assisted Barker with editing, was a founder of Students Against Bullying at Copperas Cove High School, and is happy that the video is helping raise awareness.
"I think everyone deserves to have happiness in their lives and I think with this program, we're bringing that to people," she said. "It was an amazing thing to feel that something I'd worked so hard on for years is getting the credit it deserves."
While in San Francisco, the group had the opportunity to participate in round-table discussions with other teen filmmakers and representatives for anti-bullying organizations on the issue and how it can be prevented.
"The phrase 'sticks and stones can break my bones, but words will never hurt me' is totally false now," said Barker, referring to the power of cyber-bullying today. "It's terrible how people with so much talent can get ridiculed to the point where they don't believe they have talent."
In January 2013, Barker will attend the Sundance Film Festival in Utah, where "The Formula" will be featured.
As an aspiring filmmaker who will attend Rochester Institute of Technology in New York this fall, the trip is a dream come true to Barker.
"I can't even imagine it," he said. "I'm looking forward to it more than anything."
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