Saugerties film students get national recognition for their work

Front row, left to right, are Jaea Kleinberg, Dylan Smith and MacKenzie Feeney; back row, left to right, are David Henkel, Mathew Morgan and Giona Kleinberg


In the story below, published in last week’s issue of Saugerites Times, we incorrectly reviewed a submission from 2018 instead of the 2019 film, Polaroid Opposites (Body Swap), a comedy starring Matt Morgan and Mackenzie Feeney as siblings who mistakenly switch bodies after finding a magic camera, and then attempt to reverse the process with hilarious results. The film was directed by Jaea Kleinberg, written by Feeney, with cinematography by Dylan Smith. It was edited by Morgan and Smith. Giona Kleinberg co-starred as Brad Bradley, a comedically hapless dude unaware of what Morgan and Feeney are going through, while Jaea Kleinberg, David Henkel and Shawn Blatter all featured in supporting roles. We apologize for the error and would strongly encourage you to see both Polaroid Opposites (Body Swap) ( labK1_daw8I) and Past is Present (A Film Within a Film) (


Six students in Saugerties High School’s computer and video production program were recognized last month for their short film, “Past is Present (A Film Within a Film),” which finished among the top 30 submissions in an annual nationwide contest. The 10-Day Film Challenge, as its name implies, tasks high school film students to bring a film from an idea to the screen in a short period of time. The rules of the contest stipulate that all work on the film has to be done on school grounds, with no one permitted to work on the project over weekends or after school. 


Seniors David Henkel, Giona Kleinberg, Jaea Kleinberg and Dylan Smith, and juniors Mathew Morgan and MacKenzie Feeney brainstormed, wrote, filmed, edited and chose the score for the film, which was directed by Alexis Metcalf. The students are seen discussing a work-in-progress film based on an in-school mystery involving a new student who knows a dark secret that … well, it’s best not to spoil the plot twist. Suffice it to say that “Past is Present” is indeed a film within a film, offering a window into the filmmaking process while establishing a compelling storyline, all in just over four minutes. 

“Past is Present” was among 270 films submitted for this year’s contest. The festival began in 2011 in three New Jersey high schools, and by 2019 had grown to include 130 different schools and around 3800 student filmmakers from 17 states and nine countries. The films submitted came from as far away as Japan.

For the first time in the competition’s history, the state-level contest was eliminated this year in favor of a single multi-state challenge, with films submitted from as far away as Japan. From the films submitted, the top 30 were chosen by a panel and screened on May 9. 

The Saugerties student filmmakers said they enjoyed participating in the 10-Day Film Challenge, even with the rigors involved in bringing it to fruition. “It was the most amazing and the most stressful ten days I’ve ever experienced,” said Jaea Kleinberg.

“Every day, everyone had to come in and hit the ground running,” said Dylan Smith. 

Giona Kleinberg said the film required its participants to engage in significant multi-tasking. “This was all going on while many of us were also rehearsing for the school play,” she said. “It was such a crazy time.”

Teacher Jackie Hayes, who also appeared as a teacher on screen in “Past is Present,” said she and the entire program were proud of every student who submitted a video in the competition. “It takes a lot of stamina, determination and perseverance to complete a project like this within the timeframe requested,” said Hayes. 

To see “Past is Present (A Film Within a Film),” visit:

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