Over 200 short films from students across the State of Texas were entered into the competition; only the top six films in each category advanced to the state final.

Michael entered his stop motion animated short film, A Friendly Invasion, which tells the story of a boy who meets aliens, becomes friends with the aliens, and then the aliens betray him. The film placed fourth overall at state in the Division One category of Traditional Animation.

Creating an animated film takes time, patience, and dedication, not to mention skill. Stop motion, in particular, is a traditional type of film animation.

“Stop motion is basically where you take a frame of an object and you make it look like it’s moving on its own for every frame,” Michael explained. “Like, you could have a guy walking: you could have him standing, take a picture, move his leg, take a picture, move another leg, take a picture. You take a picture for every movement.”

Michael’s film, at two minutes and 40 seconds in length, features between 500 and 1,000 frames.

From planning to presentation, Michael worked on A Friendly Invasion for over a month. First, he drew storyboards both on paper and with a digital tablet. Then, he created the characters and scenes using Lego blocks and captured still photos of all the movements. Finally, using video editing software, Michael animated the frames applied color correction and incorporated sound effects.

On March 5, Michael and his parents were joined by Melissa High School art teacher, Dustin Clark, as they attended the 2019 Young Filmmakers Festival at the Paramount Theater in Austin. The festival featured a red carpet and a showing of all of the state finalists’ short films.

Mr. Clark is the advanced graphic design instructor at Melissa High School and was Michael’s advisor during the UIL competition.

Michael has created animated videos for the last three years. He has his own YouTube channel featuring more than 30 stop motion videos with nearly 25,000 subscribers and over 10 million video views.

After graduation, Michael plans to attend Collin College while he fine-tunes his skills as an artist and filmmaker. Michael is considering pursuing a career in video production, either in the movie industry or in television.