Westflix hosts professional filmmakers, speakers


Annie Wendorf ’19 and Jack Safir ’19 interview performing arts teacher Ted Walch, visual arts teacher Cheri Gaulke and visual arts teacher Jesse Chehak ’97 at the Westflix red carpet premier. The event featured writer and director Bo Burnham. Credit: Caitlin Chung

Caitlin Chung

Bo Burnham, a comedian, writer and director of the movie “Eighth Grade,” spoke about his experience in the entertainment industry at the annual Westflix festival March 15.

Five upper school student films screened at the event among 16 other films produced by student directors across California.

The event, which took place at the ArcLight Cinemas in Hollywood, was open to the public for free.

Jack Nordstrom ’19, who directed the short film “Parking Lot,” said he learned a lot about the process of film development through his Westflix experience at the school.

“In 2017, I was a little more nervous to see my movie on the big screen, but this year I was a lot more comfortable and relaxed,” Nordstrom said. “I had a really good time. I feel like taking feedback and finding new ideas from others really helps in the creative process.”

Student volunteer Alex Poe ’20 said that the experience helped her and other students who did not get a chance to direct a film gain insight about a field they are interested in pursuing.

“It was really great experience to get more access to seeing other student filmmakers,” Poe said. “It was a stepping stone for all of us who are interested in pursuing the entertainment business in the future.”

Attendee Tosh Le ’19 said that he is grateful to be at a school that provides unique opportunities for aspiring teen directors in the wider Los Angeles community.

“I think it’s really great that Harvard-Westlake is able to put on something that students can actually make real films and then host them at an ArcLight Cinema,” Le said. “It’s really awesome to see that.”

In addition to the screenings, several industry professionals, including Burnham, led workshops at the Upper School on March 16. This year’s speakers included Slamdance Film Festival Director Peter Baxter, film composer Hans Zimmer (Annabel ’20) and journalist Nonny de la Peña.