Sejal Patel places second for Outstanding Director Award

Campbell Linaman, Managing Editor and Best of SNO award-winning writer

Sejal Patel walks the red carpet at the Young Artist Academy. On this day she received her second place award for Outstanding Director for her film, “Life with the Patels.”

Courtesy of Sejal Patel

Sejal Patel walks the red carpet at the Young Artist Academy. On this day she received her second place award for Outstanding Director for her film, “Life with the Patels.”

Dina Gorman, Arts & Entertainment Editor

It’s not every day that a high school student walks the red carpet, but Xavier College Preparatory’s own junior, Sejal Patel, created an outstanding short film called “Life with the Patels,” that placed second for the Outstanding Director Award for the Young Artist Academy. She received her nomination on July 16, 2022. 

When she submitted her film to the Young Artist Academy, Patel did not think she was going to be selected, but when she did, she was ecstatic. Patel received her award in Los Angeles at the actual awards gala on October 2 of the same year.

“Life with the Patels” is inspired from “Modern Family,” a popular sit-com that recently ended. “My family loves watching the show ‘Modern Family,’ so I was like, why don’t I make a ‘Modern Family’ about my own family,” Patel said. 

Her fellow classmate, Eliza Livingston, said, “It was amazing. She used her resources really well to create a short teen drama. I thought it was really creative and I enjoyed it a lot.”

Her family members were the actors in the film which was fun for Patel, but also very challenging. “The people in my family are not professional actors, but it was super fun directing them and we made good memories,” said Patel.

When writing the script for her film, she used real stories and events that happened to her family. 

Patel says, “The funniest scene was when my aunt was in the McDonalds drive-thru line and was mad because the person wasn’t responding to her order. But then, she realized that she was accidentally talking to a trash can!”

Patel is a part of Xavier College Preparatory’s video production class which focuses on the process of filmmaking. 

“For the video production class we created a sandbox to allow for creative problem-solving, critical-thinking and storytelling in a very contained environment in order to create short films that help tell some really interesting stories,” said Sanford Worth, video production teacher. 

Video production is a challenging concept to master. A director has to be able to create compelling stories and characters while utilizing resources properly. 

Everyone is always so focused on test-taking and finding the right answer, but video production looks at finding the wrong answer first. “If I can think of 20 wrong answers it will most often lead me to the right answer,” Worth explained. 

Worth has seen Patel’s film multiple times and helped her through the process. On a scale from 1-10, Worth rated it an 11. 

“It has a really interesting concept, really interesting characters, and shows a very high level of sophistication that I was not expecting to see from a high school student,” said Worth. 

The entire film is proof of how Sejal Patel was chosen for this award. It is outstanding in the character aspect, the storytelling aspect and the creativity aspect. 

She will continue to make more films in hopes of becoming a director in the future. Patel says, “I already made a sequel to the “Life of the Patels,” and I am currently making another comedy film for my film application for USC’s film school.”