Patapsco’s Fleck wins top award at film festival
Wednesday, 19 June 2013 12:47

“The Tennis Ball” wins top festival honor

by Ben Boehl

    John Waters, Barry Levinson ... Austin Fleck?
    Could Patapsco High School and Center for the Arts student Austin Fleck be the next great film maker from the Baltimore area?
    He got off to a good start by winning first place at the Baltimore High School Film Festival for his animated short film “The Tennis Ball.”
    The four-minute film won the first-place award for animation at the June 6 film festival held at the Charles Theater in Baltimore City.
    “I got the idea from a friend of mine, Josh Misterka,” Fleck noted. “Years ago, he had the idea about a tennis ball and what happens to it.”
    When he heard about the requirement for his multimedia production class, he called up Misterka to seek permission to use the idea, which he was given.

The film starts out with a tennis ball in a cylinder. A girl reaches into the cylinder and pulls out the tennis ball.
    The ball initially looks happy that it is being used, but that emotion quickly turns into fear after the ball is being hit back and forth between two tennis rackets.
    Later, there is a scene in which a dog is chewing on the ball. Fleck said his goal was to show the tennis ball with emotion.
    For example, a reaction can be seen on the ball’s face when the dog drools on it.
    “I had trouble making it interesting. I wanted it interesting instead of looking four minutes at a green circle,” Fleck said.
    So he put an emotional face on the ball.
    Fleck’s multimedia teacher Beth Wagner said her student is very creative and she is proud of the award for which he beat out other high school film makers from across the state.
    “I am consistently impressed by his creative ideas and ability to learn new digital tools and techniques,” Wagner said. “He is a self-motivated, hard-working and well-rounded student.”
    Fleck praised Wagner for her guidance as a teacher and credits her for helping with the film.
    “She has been a wonderful teacher. She came up with the idea for my finish,” he said.
    “It was going to be a sad ending, but she came up with the idea of [a happier ending].”
    Since Fleck is a junior, he will return to Patapsco next year. After high school, he would like to continue his education with a focus on computer science.
    “I still would like to make animated movies,” Fleck added.
    To watch Fleck’s film, visit