|Kay Vermeil. Provided.|
“I want people to appreciate being alive again. I feel like that's not happening anymore," said Kay Vermeil when asked about how she wants her films to impact audiences. This might initially sound like an ambitious task for a recent high school graduate to take on, but Vermeil is certainly up for the challenge when she begins classes at University of Southern California's School of Cinematic Arts this fall.
Vermeil's film career almost never happened. In fact, her initial introduction to the cinematic world was due to a scheduling issue at Highlands High School. “When I was a sophomore, I signed up to take a creative writing class, and that class didn't get filled. That class was dropped and my alternate was an Intro to Film class. And then as I kept going, I started liking it more and more,” said Vermeil. If more students had signed up for the creative writing course, there's a chance that Vermeil never would have had to the chance to fully realize her filmmaking skills. Luckily for Vermeil and the USC film community, a spark was ignited during those early cinema courses.
The film courses offered at Highlands High School helped to further develop Vermeil's creativity and artistic purpose. “My second year in film, I made a documentary that was about marriage equality,” said Vermeil. “I worked with a couple of my good friends, and we got to interview some couples. Working with them and seeing how they responded to it, and seeing the general feedback was really awesome.”
During her time at Highlands, Vermeil was introduced to the Final Cut Pro editing software, which is used worldwide by media professionals to edit their projects. Vermeil credits the high school's filmmaking track in helping prepare her for her collegiate endeavors. “The equipment and the facilities we have are by far better than any public high school. It's definitely the level of a private high school. Our teacher, Mr. Poff, he's really incredible with students, especially when he thinks you have potential. He'll push you to keep going. The support system we have there is awesome,"said Vermeil.
Thanks to the skill set Vermeil developed during her time in Highlands High School's film courses, she was able to stand out from the other USC applicants. Vermeil submitted a trailer she created for the high school's production of Antigone for the artistic supplement portion of her application. Her innate artistic vision combined with her education created a perfect mix for her to glide through the university's rigorous application process.
USC's admissions team - who famously rejected Steven Spielberg when he applied to the school - was quick to recognize Vermeil's potential. When she went to Los Angeles to interview with the school for a half scholarship, her intelligence and creativity allowed the school to instead offer her a full scholarship. This scholarship will help her join the ranks of USC's esteemed alumni, who have gone on to shape the cinematic landscape as we know it today. USC alumni include Judd Apatow, Jason Reitman, Sam Peckinpah, Caleb Deschanel, Doug Liman, Ron Howard, Rian Johnson, and some guy you may have heard of called George Lucas.
But getting into college is only part of the battle, right? Once school starts in August, the work really begins for Vermeil. She admits that she's nervous about moving to Los Angeles and combatting the type of competition she's likely to encounter in the university's film program, however, her excitement and artistic vision easily drown out any of her concerns.
Vermeil is already looking to the future and the type of work she wants to create. She's especially interested in making films that address topics relevant to the millennial generation of artists. "I feel like millennials are angry about a lot of things, and I feel like the art is going to start reflecting that really soon. I want to hit the topics but I don't want to hit it so bluntly or angrily. I want it to be kind of subtle. I think since the millennial generation is having such a hard time just being happy, and with the rise of anxiety and depression in this high school generation, I think there's a lot of value in art that's made to remind people that things are okay," said Vermeil.
Since the film industry is saturated with USC graduates, it's safe to say that Vermeil's college experience will lead her directly to a job in the industry. "I've got a lot of options. The thing with going to USC is that you're almost guaranteed a job,” said Vermeil.
For audiences, Vermeil's entrance into the film community is also exciting. She's ready to put her creativity to the test, and generate work that will leave a lasting impact on the viewers.