Oceanside High School wins second Telly Award


Lights, camera, Telly. Oceanside High School has made headlines as a group of students won a Bronze Award at the 45th annual Telly Awards. The international competition honors excellence in video and television across all screens. The award was earned in the Non-Broadcast: General-Student category for the student’s innovative short film, “Stuck.”

The creative team included Jonathan Mastrandrea, who wrote, directed, filmed, and edited the project, with Thomas Grasso and Christopher Collins starring in the lead roles. “Stuck” was conceived and executed entirely by the students in the advanced video production class under the guidance of their teacher, Tracy Busk.

“The project was a dream sequence, so it didn’t have to follow regular rules of continuity,” Mastrandrea explained. “It was really great and she gave us the freedom to brainstorm on how to write it and where we wanted to film and what we wanted to film.”

The inspiration for “Stuck” originated from an assignment given by Busk, who encouraged her students to craft a film based on the concept that anything can happen in a dream. The open-ended nature of the project allowed the students to explore their creativity.

In “Stuck,” Grasso portrays a character trapped in a repetitive time loop within a dream, attempting various ways to escape the auditorium only to find him back where he started. Collins plays a mysterious figure offering cryptic advice on how to break free from the cycle. The filmmaking process was collaborative, with each student contributing ideas and feedback.

“I didn’t have many challenges because we all worked so well together, so mainly it was just fun,” Grasso said.

The students spent approximately three weeks on the project, from the initial concept to the final cut. The team utilized the school’s auditorium as their primary set. The result was a film that impressed the Telly Award judges with its originality and execution.

“I was honestly kind of surprised,” Mastrandrea said. “When Ms. Busk handed me the paper and I opened it and saw it was a Bronze Award, and I was shocked. It was exciting”

Busk praised her students’ hard work and creativity. “I try to give them various prompts to challenge their skills and imagination. This year, I wanted to see what they could do without strict guidelines, and they exceeded my expectations.”

The experience of creating “Stuck” has influenced the students’ future aspirations. Mastrandrea, who initially considered a career in engineering, discovered a passion for filmmaking.

“I took the standard video production last year completely on a whim, and I fell in love with it,” he said. “This is what I want to do as a career. Originally, I wanted to be an engineer, and I realized I didn’t love that. Then I did this (class) and I enjoyed doing it. Ms.Busk definitely helped because she was a good teacher and gave us a lot of creative freedom.”

Grasso and Collins also expressed their enthusiasm for the skills they have developed. While Grasso plans to attend St. John’s University for sports journalism, Collins is heading to Nassau Community College with an interest in information technology. Oceanside High School’s success at the Telly Awards underscores the quality of its video production program. The Telly Awards, founded in 1979, are a benchmark for excellence in video and television production, judged by a council of over 200 industry experts. Oceanside High School’s continued recognition at this level speaks volumes about the program’s ability to nurture young filmmakers, after earning silver last year.

“This is the second time our school has won a Telly Award,” Busk said. “It’s a testament to the talent and hard work of our students.”