Sign In | Create an Account | Welcome, . My Account | Logout | Subscribe | Submit News | Home RSS

To My Love" brings home top honor

April 21, 2014
By Allison Graham - News-Herald Staff Writer ( , Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald

"I know I will never forgive myself for letting this happen to you". It's a story that is all too realistic. Boy meets girl, boy and girl start dating and eventually fall in love. Then a tragic accident happens and it's over in the blink of an eye.

"To My Love" is a story of love and loss. It is told by a group of South Tama students who created the piece as part of this year's Iowa High School Large Group Speech competition. The piece, entered into the Short Film category, has experienced a very successful run through the 2014 speech season. The group is made up of students Taylen Anderson, Rachel Benda, Alec Hill, Samantha Holtz, Sadie Kavalier, Natalie Stadler, Darien Taylor, Santiago Villafana, and Hailee Weiss. The Large Group Speech team is coached by Rachel Kudobe and Chris McFate.

The story revolves around the characters played by Hill and Kavalier. Kavalier plays the role of a pretty and outgoing high school student who catches the eye of quiet and shy Hill. The young man can't seem to get up the nerve to talk to the girl of his dreams so one day after class she approaches him. They form a friendship and ultimately fall in love with each other. Just like any couple they have their share of arguments, but they are there for one another in sickness and in health.

Article Photos

Members of the Large Group Speech Short Film team: Taylen Anderson, Darien Taylor, Alec Hill, Sanitago Villafana and Hailee Weiss pictured with the Critic’s Choice Award Banner that is displayed in the STC High School.
News Herald Photo/Allison Graham

Then one evening, tragedy strikes. The couple are returning home from a date when the young man (played by Hill) accidentally runs a stop sign and collides with an oncoming vehicle. The crash leaves the young woman (played by Kavalier) lifeless in the passenger seat while the protagonist is left to cope with his feelings of guilt, sorrow, and heartache. It is a tearjerker of a story that pulls on one's heartstrings, probably because it felt so realistic.

After seeing so much tragedy in the news on a daily basis one might wonder, why did she have to die? The answer is fairly simple. The story of "To My Love" had been in the works for almost two years. Anderson, along with the help of some friends, had already produced a short comedy as well as an action film. For his senior year he decided to tackle a different genre which lead to the group deciding upon the emotional love story. Anderson not only wrote the script but also directed and edited the short film. Taylor and Villafana also are credited for helping to write the script.

The Details

The video was shot on a Canon T2i. All of the sound was done in post production as voice over. "We spent about five days shooting and 50 hours of editing", stated Anderson.

Short film is a fairly new category in Large Group Speech competition. I After being requested and lobbied for, it has been a growing category over the past 3-4 years. Judging is based on the story line, acting, technical aspects and overall presentation. It must be a collaboration between students. Short film also has a time limit of five minutes.

All State

Fast forward to Large Group Speech All-State. It is truly an accomplishment to be nominated for an All-State. There are a lot of hours of rehearsal and practice put into the events that make it past the district and state levels.

The short film was not only nominated but was chosen to perform at the All-State Festival. This put it in the running for the top honor of the Critics Choice Award. "Our judge had a hard time giving us comments because she was crying so hard", said Anderson. It turns out their All-State judge lost a sister to a car accident several years prior. It goes to show that this short film can sure make a personal and emotional impact. "My grandma said she woke up crying (after seeing the film)", said Taylor. Anderson stated his mom still cries almost every time she watches the film.

The short film group waited with bated breath as they were hoping to hear their name called for the top honor. "I told Darien, if our name is called I am going to give you the biggest hug", said Hill. Well Taylor got his hug and the South Tama students brought home the Critics Choice Award which now hangs as a banner in the high school.

When asked how it felt to do something that has never been done before Taylor, Villafana, Anderson, Weiss and Hill, as if on cue, all responded with a resounding, "Awesome!"

Possibilities and Opportunities

Anderson and Weiss made their first video in middle school and from there Anderson has made several more. He has his own YouTube channel where you can see anything from a hot flaming Cheeto eating contest to the inspirational/promotional video for STC activities set to the Katy Perry song "Roar".

Anderson never thought that his love of making videos would lead to where it has. While at the All-State Festival Anderson was literally stopped by a man who asked him if he would like to go to Honduras to film a documentary. The man who approached him is the leader of a ministry organization that builds orphanages in Honduras. Anderson took advantage of the opportunity and traveled with the group to Honduras. The trip was successful and he hopes to do more traveling in the future to assist the organization. He has decided to take his talents to the University of Iowa next fall to major in film. STC seniors Weiss and Taylor are currently undecided on their post-high school plans but are considering pursuing acting and writing. To view "To my Love" you can visit Taylen Anderson's YouTube page by visiting



I am looking for:
News, Blogs & Events Web