Consuelo Althouse, 19
Past and present: Conci Althouse only graduated from high school—Monte del Sol—a year ago. But she already has one feature film, Shedding Skin, under her belt and another in post-production.
Althouse along with friends Jonah Zimmerberg-Helms and Adam Mclean are the minds behind SaneAslyum Syndicate, a film production company. Shedding Skin was shown at the Santa Fe Film Festival last year and was a philosophical meditation on the meaning of life in a post 9.11 world. The threesome’s current production, The Pardoner’s Tale, modernizes Geoffrey Chaucer’s 16th century tale, and queries the nature of corruption, greed and contemporary confusion.
The heady topics of the films, Althouse says, are a way to provoke thought while also allowing her to engage her creativity. She refers to the style of filmmaking as “interactive voyeurism.” “So that the audience, instead of being a fly on the wall, are actually a character in and of itself. There’s some sort of connection between the audience and the film. By using media, we don’t just hand out information on a silver platter. We try to keep it creative and let the audience spur their own thoughts.”
Coming at ideas from a different angle comes naturally to Althouse. By the age of 18, she had worked on several short films as a writer, director, actor and videographer. She also helped make a youth-made anti-drug film for the state of New Mexico that was distributed throughout the state, mostly in juvenile detention centers. In that project, Althouse says, she and the other youth tried to create a film that was positive, rather than fear based. “We ended up going to different people and getting interviews and biographical stories by people, and their connections with and consequences of drug abuse. We tried not to impose too much the negative aspects of doing drugs, but instead show the positive aspects of not participating in that world.”
At Warehouse 21, Althouse ran silk-screening programs and worked on the youth radio program Ground Zero. But she attributes much of her passion for making films with a message to her volunteer work with groups like Earth Care International and Bioneers, which led her to such places as St. Petersburg, Russia, where she helped lead a workshop on the ecology of peace and war.
“That will always be at the core of me,” Althouse says of her ecology volunteerism. “Whenever I’m working on a film and forget about motives, I think that whole realm will always come out.”
The Future: Althouse plans to move to Los Angeles and set up a branch of SaneAsylum Syndicate there. More school is probably in her future and, without doubt, more films. “Everyone’s seen Supersize Me and An Inconvenient Truth and all these big films, even films like The Matrix or V for Vendetta. They may be fictional narratives, but they are still strong on message. I would love to be involved in documentaries and in future narrative because it’s a way to really experiment with communication and still be creative with it.”
On the ’08 election: Althouse says Obama seems like the best president for her right now. But she also looks at the election—as she does most issues—from a broader perspective. “My generation is going to be the largest generation voting block. And it seems that my generation, just by the nature of what’s going on, is getting heated up because it’s starting to trickle down and directly affect us: We’re going to be the first generation in history to die younger than the previous generation, the first generation in American history to be passed down a country that’s in decline. We have bigger issues we’re going to have to deal with than most generations have had to deal with.”
Changing the World: “In terms of making an impact, whether it be small or large, it would be really rewarding and really satisfying to use these films—and more than take my opinions and all my ideals of society and push them onto people—to allow people to think for themselves.”
Aaron Alamillo, 18
Past and present: If you want to discuss student government, gay rights or Capital High School’s dance team or theater program, senior Aaron Alamillo is your go-to guy. He is deeply involved in all four.
And he is apparently everywhere at once: Alamillo’s classes start at 7:30 am and end at 3:45 pm. From 4 to 6 pm, he is in dance rehearsals, and from 6:15 to 11:30 pm he works at Hollister clothing store or the Regal Santa Fe Stadium 14 movie theater. After work at one of his two jobs, he goes home, does homework and passes out around 2 am. Then he wakes up and does it all over again.
He is most visible around Capital for his involvement in the Student Government Association. Alamillo’s title as senior representative means he fills a vice-presidential role in student politics. He helps organize pep rallies and community outreach, and speaks for the SGA’s president when she is not available.
Alamillo points to the positive change in attitude he has seen in his last three years at Capital. The school has long had a bad reputation, he says, compared to Capital’s rival, Santa Fe High School.
“It’s pretty sad that we’re seen as the ‘ghetto kids,’” Alamillo says. “But we’re slowly getting more recognition—better recognition.”
Alamillo personally has been participating in “penny drives”—a program where kids are encouraged to donate pocket change to cancer research.
His main focus, however, is on gay rights at Capital. He is the leader of the school’s Gay-Straight Alliance. As such, Alamillo and some of his classmates have gone to the state Legislature to encourage the passage of a statewide domestic partnership bill. The issues Alamillo mentions are the same hot-button topics that are being debated nationally—gay marriage, same-sex access to insurance and adoption. More recently, Alamillo has been pushing the school to allow same-sex couples’ photos to appear in Capital’s yearbook.
“The way I see myself is, I have to fight for my opinion and others,’” he says.
As if this were not enough to fill up his day, Alamillo also heads the school’s dance team and theater program.
The Future: Alamillo is applying to the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising in California, as well as the University of California in Los Angeles, Georgetown University, New York University and other schools.
He also hopes to stay involved in gay rights issues as well as student government.
“I’m going to check in with my [former] teachers,” he says, adding, “I hope to leave some of what we taught to the underclassmen.”
On the ’08 election: Alamillo does not like Obama as much as he dislikes McCain’s running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. “McCain, he has good views and stuff. But I give him up to a year before he dies and she takes over. I believe in the idea of a woman president…but not her. Her beliefs are ridiculous. She strikes me as incompetent.”
Changing the world: Alamillo plans to approach life the way he has approached school. “I’m pretty much just hoping to open the eyes of others, get them more involved in their communities…turn the negativity away and turn on the positive.”