Aija Mayrock is no stranger to the 10-10-10 Student Filmmaking and Screenwriting Competition, SBIFF’s annual battle of the region’s best young filmmakers. In fact, some may consider her a veteran.

As the youngest competitor and winner of last year’s 10-10-10 high school screenwriting award for her social justice screenplay “A Heart’s Journey,” in which she also starred as a young teenage girl dealing with the fall-out of her older sister’s suicide, Mayrock has come back for seconds this year.

Now 15 years old, Mayrock has embarked on an incredible student filmmaking journey in which her skills as a writer, as well as a director, are about to be tested. Competing in both the high school screenwriting category with her screenplay “Diego” as well as the high school directing category with the film “Dying with Laughter,” she certainly has her work cut out for her this time around.

But Mayrock recently took some time out of her busy filmmaking schedule to answer a few questions about her 10-10-10 experiences this year. The winners will be announced on Sunday at the Arlington Theatre during the closing night festivities.

What was your reaction when you found out you were competing in the 10-10-10 competition once again, not just in one category but both?

I was so honored to be able to be in this amazing competition once again this year. However, when I found out I was accepted into both categories, I was overwhelmed with the most amazing feelings and emotions. I want to thank the 10-10-10 competition for allowing me to have this life-changing opportunity. It is truly an incredible experience.

Can you tell me a little bit about last year’s winning script and this year’s comedic one?

Last year, I wrote a screenplay on bullying and teenage suicide. It was a horrible epidemic that was exploding all over the world and unfortunately still is. I felt that it was an issue I needed to address. This year the theme is comedy. I was terrified, yet very attracted to this challenge. I learned so much from writing my first comedy. It was an invaluable experience. I am very proud of what I wrote, and it is one of my favorite pieces so far!

What’s it like being in the director’s seat this time? How does it compare with your role last year as a screenwriter?

This was my first time directing. It was wonderful to find my way as I made mistakes and learned through them. I must say that it was very helpful to understand screenwriting before understanding directing. I was sure to be very sensitive to keeping the true vision of the writer, while exploring the wonderful world of filmmaking.

What would you say is your biggest challenge with this year’s competition, compared with last year’s?

My biggest challenge of this year’s competition was not being fearful of messing up. I had two new challenges — writing a comedy and directing a film. I had to let go of any fears and stresses and allow myself to make the mistakes I would make in such a process.

Do you feel you have a certain advantage this year over other teams because of your previous 10-10-10 experience?

Absolutely not. The finalists in both the filmmaking section and screenwriting section are so immensely talented. I cannot wait to see all of the films!

Is there anything you learned from last year’s competition that you feel has helped you become a stronger competitor this year?

I learned to be open to change. I wrote about a dozen different drafts of my screenplay this year. I listened to many different opinions and gave myself distance from my script, leaving room for change.


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