By John Lynch
But with a 34 on the ACT, eight AP tests under his belt and applications to Vanderbilt, MIT, Duke, Virginia and Columbia, you can see why engineering is his first choice.
Still, his most recent foray into filmmaking resulted in a first-place prize – and $300 in cash – for best direction in the ninth annual (and final) Keep It Real Video/Internet contest.
His film, “If You Could Take It Back,” was made with Jeremy Davis, Ned Katz and Dylan Sarkisian.
Gus wrote, directed and starred in the 30-second video, which was filmed by Jeremy. Ned and Dylan co-starred in the story.
The film was shot in three locations over two weekends, and Gus took a few hours to edit and cut it to 30 seconds.
The film opens in a mortuary, and it takes a second to realize that the story of a reckless night of drinking is being told backward in time – the most startling visual element of the film.
The movie concludes at the beginning of the night when a friend offers Gus a drink. This time he walks away instead of drinking.
The idea came to Gus last year in English class. Teacher Matthew Logsdon (no relation) asked students to devise a public service announcement.
Gus thought first of underage drinking.
“I don’t have a lot of personal experience with alcoholism, I just think it isn’t a good idea to get involved with that,” he said.
“When I go to parties, I avoid drinking because it leads to a lack of judgment.
“Luckily, no one I know has suffered a serious accident because of drinking.”
This year Gus is enrolled in Logsdon’s TV/radio production class.
An assignment last fall called for each student or team of students to create a Keep It Real video and submit it to the contest.
“What I appreciate most about Gus is his willingness to take a creative chance and explore new technology and new ideas,” said Matthew Logsdon, the only teacher to have students enter every year of the contest.
Gus couldn’t attend the awards presentation – he was working that night as an intern in a downtown startup company doing web design.
Ned called him with the good news. Gus’ first thoughts on the victory and the $300 prize? “Wow, three Benjamins.”
Gus plans to make more movies and might use the money to buy a new camera.
Clearly, he is a knowledgeable film buff, citing Stanley Kubrick and Quentin Tarantino as his favorite directors.
Gus is a fan of Kubrick’s visually stunning masterpiece, “2001: A Space Odyssey,” and Tarantino’s classic crime movie homage, “Pulp Fiction.”
Gus’ next project should amuse his classmates. He is making a film showing a helicopter lifting off the helipad on the roof of Henry Clay High.
It will look real. But as all students eventually learn, the school has no helipad.