Project FX Panel(MARCH 19, 2017 – RED BANK) PROJECT FX, the Count Basie Theatre’s statewide student film festival presented by Bank of America, announced on Saturday the winners of this year’s competition. “Red,” a film by Montclair University student Peter Dulshon, took home the award for Top College Film, while David LaPorta, a student at Shore Regional High School in West Long Branch, was honored as the Top High School filmmaker for his movie, “Trick Question.”

“Red,” by Montclair University’s Dulshon, detailed the plight of a closet crossdresser discovered and disowned by his mother, while LaPorta’s “Trick Question” depicted a young man’s spiritual journey when faced with the question “how would you want to die?”

“My goal as a filmmaker is to tell stories that carry emotional weight that also touch on current social issues,” says college winner Peter Dulshon. “With this particular film, I wanted to embody the importance of self-love and how much of an impact a small interaction can make.”

“Winning (PROJECT FX) gives me confidence that more people in a similar situation as the main character can be reminded that no matter who you are and no matter how you express yourself, you are never alone.”

“This win meant a lot to me,” says high school winner LaPorta. “As an aspiring film maker I’m always hearing horror stories about people who can’t get jobs in the industry, and it’s disheartening to say the least. Winning this contest helped blur out all the negativity associated with a career in film and really gave my determination a boost to keep pursuing this dream. It’s also recognition that someone besides my family and teacher liked my video.

In the high school category, follow-up winners included Sussex County Technical School student Lucas Savarese (“Goldilocks”), and Old Bridge High School student Archit Upadhyay (“Unconditional.”) They took home $750 and $500 cash prizes, respectively.

On the collegiate side, previous PROJECT FX victor and Montclair University student Alexa Werrlein (“Tiny Worlds”) took home the $750 prize, while Rowan student peter Chamalian’s film, “Step One,” grabbed the $500 award.

In addition to public voting on Facebook and an onsite tally during the festival itself, PROJECT FX entries were viewed and voted on by a panel of esteemed adjudicators, including Sony Pictures Classics co-founder and Middletown resident Tom Bernard; Oscar nominated screenwriter James Schamus (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon; Brokeback Mountain), David Iserson (Producer, Mr. Robot, New Girl; writer, Saturday Night Live, Mad Men), Broadway producer, choreographer, actress and Basie board member Maureen Van Zandt and others.