Burt Reynolds surprises aspiring filmmakers at student showcase

By Rachel Leigh bio | email

LAKE WORTH, FL (WFLX) - This year, the Palm Beach International Film Festival Student Showcase of Films received 219 entries. On Tuesday, the top six were recognized at Lake Worth's Duncan Theatre.

"I'm already really honored to be here, and it's really nice to already have some recognition for all my work I've put into this film," said finalist Alex Mitchell, the director of 'Flowers'.

Tony Mollengarden, actor in 'Flowers', said, "It's a fun little hobby we do. And we saw the film festival and thought maybe we should try it - maybe we'll get 100th, 50th place in the film festival - and somehow, we got to like top three."

A fun hobby for some; however, for David Harrison, it's life. "I worked on it for four months, and it consumed all of my weekends and all of my free time."

David Harrison wrote his first script in the first grade: "It was called the 'Hidden Castle.'"

Twenty scripts later, he has 'The Last Laugh'.

His father, however, hopes this won't be his last.

Rachel asked, "So, you think in 15 years, when you go the movies, you're going to see your son's work?"

Carlos Harrison, father, "I hope in 15 years, when he flies me to movie premiere on his jet that I'll be able to relax a little bit."

Inside, the stage - completely made from recycled materials - is set, and the awards ceremony begins with one big surprise.

No stranger to receiving awards, Burt Reynolds is now giving them. Reynolds hand delivered the Burt Reynolds Scholarship to Kristen Harding and Savannah Winchester.

I caught up with Reynolds backstage, and he's very excited to follow both their careers. "They both have that fresh scrub look of having not been thrown in the lion's den, and I think they're going to do alright. They are very sweet girls.

"You have to be a little tough. It's a tough bracket. It's a business based on denial; businesses based on you're no good, you don't have it, why are you here? And you have to be tough enough, and smart enough to know that all those people are dumber than you are. You're just gonna go on and use it for fuel and just keep on."

Here's what you need to know if you want to land a job with Reynolds. "Now, when I direct or produce a show, I like someone who walks in and smiles, gives them a good handshake, looks you in the eye. And when you sit down, you say, 'Why do you want to do this?' And, they say, 'Because I'm the best guy in town for this job, and I can kick ass.'"

He also mentions be polite to his secretary! "I'm not saying you should be nice to her because it's some kind of devious to get the job. I'm saying you should be nice to everybody."

Over the years, Reynolds has worked with quite a few people, but a vivacious blonde is one of his favorites. "Goldie Hawn was the most fun, the best, greatest pro. We had so many laughs."

But, it's a tough call when it comes to movies. "The films that I'm most proud of are 'Deliverance'. 'Boogie Nights' was good work because it was skating on real thin ice. I could have crashed and burn real easy if I hadn't worked. And the 'Longest Yard' was my favorite film because I got to play football and get paid for it because that's what I always wanted to do."

There's another movie in the mix for Reynolds, as well. "I had an offer from Rob Briner to do a picture. I love Rob Briner. I said, 'Who's father am I playing?' And there was this long pause, and he said, 'grandfather'. And, I said, thanks Bob! But, it's sweet."

Reynolds has not let stardom go to his head, and sincerely enjoyed his time at the Student Showcase of Films. "Thank you so much. I hope you let me come back next year."