Albemarle students win virtual reality film contest

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ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- This month, a team of four students from Albemarle County won a national award for a 360 virtual reality film.

The students beat out 27 other high schools across the country for their final short piece on the Aug. 12 rallies.

"It allows them to have a voice, a voice that is so imperative right now," said Renee Willis, a teacher at the Enterprise Center for Learning and Growth, which is an initiative of Albemarle County Public Schools.

"We live in a city where a huge historical event that's going to be in history books happened," said Angelina Hillier, one of the student filmmakers. "We thought it would be a good idea to talk about those issues."

In order to view the students' film, the person has to wear a VR headset that allows the film to be shown 360 degrees.

The students were already working with Light House Studios in Charlottesville to make a movie for class credit when they were approached by the national competition, The 360 Filmmakers Challenge, to create a virtual reality film.

"We were like 'Whoa, that's different and exciting and cutting edge,'" said Willis. "As soon as you said cutting edge it's kind of like okay, that does it, we'll do it."

The students were tasked with making a film around the theme of empathy, which is what led their story to revolve around this past summer's events.

"I had heard all these people saying that Charlottesville was this awful place," said Hillier. "But all the people that came here for the rally weren't from Charlottesville. In between every cut we kept saying, 'this is Charlottesville, this is Charlottesville' in order to show, this is what you guys think it is but this is actually what it is."

"We just wanted to make a film showing that this place isn't what the media is portraying it as," added Nathan Shelton, another student who worked on the film. "It's actually a pretty cool place."

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