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AHS film, "Return," takes 3rd at state

AHS film, "Return," takes 3rd at state

By Abigail Allen

Managing Editor

Max Griffin is hoping he has inspired a tradition of filmmaking excellence at Aubrey High School.

He started his senior year with a goal in mind—to beat his previous finish at the state level in the Narrative Film category.

"I love translating ideas that pop into my head at random times into a movie that I can show everybody," he said.

His film "Return" about netted him just that—a third place finish and a place on the stage with the other five top filmmakers in the statewide 4A competition.

"When we made this one, I was really proud of myself, I was proud of this group," he said. "I was just so happy when we heard

our name called to go up there."

AHS film, "Return," takes 3rd at state

He and his fellow winners sat on the state at the UIL State Film Festival on Feb. 22.

"You learn the most once you're done with the movie," Max said.

He went on to explain that during the process he will often feel confident in the moment that he has made the best choices, only to pick apart his own work once it's finished.

"The moment you put it out there, it's, 'Oh, I could have done this. I could have done that. I could have changed it.' But you can't, and that's OK, because you're supposed to learn from that and put that to work in your next movie," Max said, surrounded by fellow student filmmakers. "That took me a while to comprehend, but now that I know that, I stopped worrying as much once it’s out there and I get critiques."

The Aubrey senior had a team of actors and crew—his little brother Ian Griffin as well as friends Harrison Bennet, Jacob Coppedge—who helped make his idea come to life.

AHS film, "Return," takes 3rd at state

"We started filming as soon as school started in August and then finished editing in September," Max said.

That was well ahead of the Jan. 18 deadline for submissions.

He, with the help of his team, submitted a second film as well, which did not place at state.

"I just wanted to make as many [movies] as I could, so when I finished this one, I immediately got to work on another one," Max said.

All the same, he felt confident that "Return" was going to do well at state.

"I loved the idea, and I was really proud of the CGI that I did," he said. "The actors did a great job; the editing went seamlessly.

When I watched it back, I'm like, 'Oh, this is going far.'"

AHS film, "Return," takes 3rd at state

He learned how to use the program Adobe After Effects to create the CGI components.

The synopsis of the movie as it ran in the 2023 Film State Program read: "A 1960s man is tortured by an encounter in his

childhood with those not of this world. His brother stolen from him, he awaits the return of the craft another night as he has done for decades when a noise echoes through the forest."

He hopes with the success he's had in his junior and senior years that he has breathed life into the AHS filmmaking program, which has been sponsored by Edgar Jackson.

AHS film, "Return," takes 3rd at state

"I just hope the movie field at Aubrey doesn’t die out," Griffin said. "I hope it continues. I hope somebody else kind of takes the mantle after I leave, and we can consistently hit the film festival."

As for his own future, he's heading to the University of Texas' flagship campus in Austin.

"I want to pursue [filmmaking] through university," he said.

To watch "Return," visit

AHS film, "Return," takes 3rd at state


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