John Adams Junior Wins Student Film Contest


On Tuesday, February 25, John Adams High School Junior Sam Villagra-Stanton learned that his screenplay had won a contest sponsored by Pigasus Pictures, and would soon be produced and directed by a professional crew. Villagra-Stanton admitted that he “definitely didn’t expect it” and expressed, “I just want to get to work on it.” Sam described the screenplay as a coming of age film that “simultaneously tackles peer pressure and stepping out of your comfort zone,” and focuses on a valedictorian who has never missed a day of school in his life. “In Renegade,” the title of the potential short film, “he takes a risk.” When asked how excited he was on a scale from 1-10, Sam said, “10. 11. That sounds super cliché. Actually, 12. I feel like it’s not actually happening.”

Although Sam may still be in shock, his film teacher is not surprised at his 16-year-old student’s success. John Nowicki, an educator at John Adams High School, had a “suspicion that Sam was going to be really good at film, but he totally blew my belief out of the water.”  Nowicki explained that Renegade was “a project [Sam] started making in class, but realized it was bigger than our time frame and resources.” He stated that, as his mentor, “I’m proud of Sam, and he deserves the credit way more than I do.”

Sam’s mom, Cecelia Stanton, was “surprised and excited for [Sam] because I know it’s his dream to be in the film world and because he loves the art of film.” As a teacher at John Adams High School, Stanton knows better than anyone how uncommon it is to be sure of one’s future at such a young age. That’s why “it’s been kind of crazy to watch him get even more into it [film] as he’s gotten older.” She explained that Sam “loves every aspect of the art of film from directing to cinematography to acting” and that she loves that “he’s been able to take his abilities and do something with it that he really loves.”

Congratulations, Sam!