Martha’s Vineyard student’s film nominated for prestigious awards

Filming a scene from the award nominated film "The Fall of New Atlantis," writer and director Nick HallBilsback (left,) helps setup a shot with (left to right) director of photography Steve Razzano, assistant cameraman Sangchul Shin. The actors are Jay Devore (top) and Alex Emanuel. — Photo by Maureen Hall

Island native and 2006 Martha’s Regional High School (MVRHS) graduate Nick HallBilsback’s film, “The Fall of New Atlantis,” has been nominated for the outstanding film and outstanding achievement in directing awards in the School of Visual Arts 23rd annual Dusty Film & Animation Festival in New York City.

Written and directed by Mr. HallBilsback, “The Fall” was filmed on the Vineyard. The movie is set at some point in the future. Mankind has moved from Earth. The planet is used as a prison for the most dangerous criminals. A young man wakes up in a canoe on a beach with no memories of how he got there. He must find a way off-world before his past catches up with him. Mr.HallBilsback said the film is a pilot for a series he is working on called “Earthbound.”

“I am very happy with the film,” said Mr. HallBilsback. “It was a difficult shoot because of how cold it was. We were running around on the beach in Aquinnah last February. It got pretty rough but everything looks so good. I wanted it to have that wind-torn look the Vineyard has in the winter.”

It was a low budget project. He said that he was able to convince some professional actors from New York to act in the film for free, and the production crew, schoolmates of Mr. HallBilsback’s, volunteered for the job. He said that he, in turn, did the sound work on “about six other films in the festival.” His friend from the Vineyard, New York-based musician Jesse Wiener, a MVRHS graduate who composed the music for the film, said, “We had a great time working together, and I really loved how it all came out.”

The Dusty Film & Animation Festival showcases the work of emerging filmmakers and animators from the school’s Film, Video and Animation Department, and has launched many of their students into professional careers, according to a press release. More than 3,000 people attended the last year’s festival, which has garnered industry-wide recognition and is considered one of the top student film festivals in the country. The School of Visual Arts is recognized as one of the finest art schools in the United States. The festival runs from May 6 through the awards day May 9.

This year’s award presenters include Emmy Award-winning actor and director John Turturro (“The Big Lebowski,” “Barton Fink,” “O Brother, Where Art Thou?”), director and SVA alumnus Daniel Minahan (“True Blood,” “Game of Thrones,” “Six Feet Under”).

A trailer for the film can be viewed at