Behind The Lens With Great Oak's Zoe Medranda

Zoe Medranda is a high school senior at Great Oak High School, an athlete, and a talented up-and-coming filmmaker. Her recent short film, Ciao Tata, was chosen under the Adventure/Travel category as an official selection at the 2019 All American High School Film Festival, which is presented by IFC Films.

She's also a cross country and track and field athlete and a big fan of the sport. She's covered meets for California MileSplit and this is her first project for MileSplit USA. Recently, Zoe produced and edited an eight-minute long 'Day in the Life' feature on Wolfpack senior Chris Verdugo for MileSplit USA.

Before we publish her superb video, we decided to learn a little more about how she became a filmmaker, what some of her favorite moments shooting were, and what sh'es learned about the craft while shooting and editing the Verdugo piece. Make sure to watch the full video starting on September 18 on MileSplit USA and California MileSplit and check out the teaser below: 

- - - 

How long have you been producing videos/short films, and what got you started? 

I received a GoPro Hero 4 Silver for Christmas when I was 12 and it sparked my passion for creating meaning through a lens. Within six months I filmed my first wedding -- fast forward five years later and I have created many videos for myself or others.

What interested you about producing 'A Day In The Life of Chris Verdugo?' for MileSplit? 

Everyone always asks to talk to the No. 1 one runners on our team, and even though Chris Verdugo is fast, I felt he had some depth to offer. He does a lot outside of practice to be where he is. Most of all, I see the hard work he puts in.

What were some of the challenges in trying to get the types of shots you wanted? Did you have any helpful camera ops? 

It's always difficult to film a video on your own, yet, but it's the only way I have ever filmed. The hardest shot was driving to get a shot of him running or beating him up the hill. I had just gotten my driver's license three days before I shot this video. My parents had no idea that I was driving and filming at the same time. Hopefully I don't get grounded. (Editor's comment: Be safe Zoe!!!)

Were you able to take the vision you had for it and make it a reality? (Also, did Doug Soles get in your way?!)

I always have big goals before I start filming. However, you can't measure reality. I didn't know what the day had in store for us, as no runner can plan how they are going to feel during training, downtime, and/or life. Coach Soles has never gotten in the way of any of my films. :)

What did you learn through the process of producing the visuals and generating audio? What were some of the cool things you tried and had success with? 

Post-production is always a trial and error process. Sometimes what you thought was going to look good doesn't at all. When making the introduction to this particular video, I had a lot of success showing what the critics had to say about Chris (*cough cough) and our team while showing the work he puts in.

What was your favorite part about producing the piece?  

I loved creating the introduction. It's always fun to step away from the structure of a video and put your own personal style in it.

How long was the editing process for you, and what were some of the pros/cons of building out a story like this? 

The video took about a full day to edit. I would edit bits and pieces when I had free time. It was difficult to begin editing a section of the video, getting into the rhythm and then having to stop to do homework or go to the gym. Sometimes I would listen to the audio of the film on repeat at school and write down what videos I would need and where.

How would you do it differently next time? 

I would've made the video longer; I really wanted to show that Chris is a teammate more than he is an individual. Over the summer as a team we all hangout with each other at someone's pool and I really would've loved to show our team culture at Great Oak.

What was the most memorable moment in putting this project together for MileSplit? 

When I was filming Chris do his core, I sat on the ground to get a low angle shot of him and I didn't realize I was sitting on fire ants. My thigh is still healing from the ants and it's been 4 weeks. 

- - - 

Five Favorite Things: 

BookI love reading poetry so it has to be "Where the Sidewalk Ends".

MovieMulan or The Breakfast Club

Female AthleteColleen Quigley, she is one of the nicest people I have ever interviewed.

Pasta dishRavioli filled with spinach and cheese

Doug Soles-isms"Rule 11"

- - - 

Make sure to watch the full video starting on September 18 on MileSplit USA and California MileSplit!