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Pinkerton Academy students, from left, Nick Auger, Colin Coviello and Noah Levin shared in the success of the film “Fragaria,” which captured Best in Show last month at the New Hampshire High School Film Festival in Concord. (HUNTER McGEE/Union Leader Correspondent)

Pinkerton students' film wins big at NH High School contest

DERRY — A man’s failed attempts to make a career out of perfecting strawberries is the story of a successful short film made by Pinkerton Academy students Nick Auger and Noah Levin.

Starring Pinkerton senior Colin Coviello, the film “Fragaria” captured Best in Show last month at the New Hampshire High School Short Film Festival in Concord. Coviello also served as the film’s composer.

Auger and Levin won $1,000 for the six-minute film. In the fall, “Fragaria,” Latin for strawberry, will be screened at the New Hampshire Film Festival in Portsmouth and the Somewhat North of Boston Festival in Concord.

The students are in teacher Chris Lord’s video production class and have benefitted from the wide array of equipment at their disposal.

“The class helps you out because you have a lot of equipment and a lot of freedom to do stuff,” Auger said.

Levin said they went through a number of ideas to try to come up with the story for the film. Finally, after using a random word generator, the words “strawberry” and “interview” appeared.

“I said, ‘all right, it will be a job interview for a strawberry’ and that’s what I wrote it for,” Levin said.

Coviello plays the lead role of “Greg,” who develops an intense appreciation for strawberries while working on a farm. His job entails keeping a produce display clean for the public. But he eventually leaves the position when the owners of the farm decide to sell only corn.

“I just learned to appreciate the natural art and beauty of strawberries,” Greg says at one point in the film. “They wanted me to stick around and work with corn, but it just didn’t feel right without my strawberries.”

Because of his deep devotion to strawberries, Greg uses techniques such as cross pollination as he works relentlessly to grow his own strawberries and develop the perfect tasting fruit.

He then proceeds to go on a series of job interviews to try and land a position that will allow him to continue on with his life’s work. But his efforts meet with failure as one boss suffers a nosebleed after eating one of his strawberries and another becomes violently ill.

“He is in a perpetual state of employment, unemployment, employment … because each time he makes a new strawberry there is something that goes wrong with it,” Levin said.

Levin has been making films with Auger since the two were in middle school. When they began, they worked on basic film techniques; they later honed their skills and expanded to concentrate more on narrative films.

“We’ve just tried to make better films every single year, and this year it really paid off,” Levin said.