WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — It's usually an event filled with glitz and glamour.
The largest statewide film competition happens in Palm Beach County every year, but this year it's all virtual. Student winners of the Palm Beaches Student Showcase of Films will be announced Friday at noon. Nearly 300 submissions were received from high school and college students across 53 schools statewide.
Putting a piece of herself in her music video of the song "Dumbstruck" by hip-hop duo Ceraadi in Los Angeles, Palm Beach Gardens High School junior Anneika Sheriff said she imagined what her music video would look like when it became an assignment in school.
"It's more like being in love with somebody and how they make you feel, and you feel stuck," Sheriff said.
She not only recorded it herself but acted in it, directed it and edited it. Complete with her cousins as backup dancers, the music video became her first entry in a competition.
"It took several hours of just sitting there and listening to each snare, each beat drop and just cutting along," she said.
Sheriff is a finalist in the Vanilla Ice Music Award category. The rapper, actor and television host has been involved with the showcase for more than 10 years.
"Well, the music video award is something that I hold special to my heart," he said. "You know, way back when I was 16, I did 'Ice Ice Baby' and, you know, the music video was No. 1 on MTV. That was when it was a big way to showcase the visuals of songs. Now, these kids today have YouTube and all these avenues with social media and everything, and they can really just put these videos together in their bedrooms and then showcase to the world. We didn't have that back in the '90s, you know."
Also a finalist in the music video category, Florida State University motion picture production major Cooper Shapiro. Shapiro directed a music video that was planned entirely remotely at the peak of the pandemic in 2020.
"Everyone figuring it out remotely and then coming together for one night to make it happen and then going back, it was magic," Shapiro said.
Milan Tangirala, finalist for the Burt Reynolds scholarship awards and senior at A.W. Dreyfoos School of the Arts, said he's been waiting for this moment since he was 13, when he took a field trip to the Student Showcase of Films awards show in eighth grade.
"I am a little bit nervous, if I am being honest, but whatever happens, happens," he said.
His short films, he said, usually carry a social, political or environmental message. The pandemic pushed him to think outside the lens to find shooting locations that would still help convey his message.
"I've been trying to work out of my comfort zone," Tangirala said.
This competition also helped many of these students push through the pandemic and stay motivated.
"It gives them something to do, something to wake up, some ambition, some drive, a purpose and meaning, and that's so important," Vanilla Ice said.
WATCH: WPTV's full interview with Vanilla Ice
Vanilla Ice and the late Burt Reynolds worked with the Palm Beach County Film Commission over the years to make this showcase not only a prestigious one but glamorous, too.
WPTV/WFLX anchor Jay Cashmere has served as a judge for the showcase for several years. The competition shows how much interest in filmmaking has grown in Palm Beach County over time.
"A lot of people are coming to all of Florida now to film because there's so much activity here," Vanilla Ice said. "We're more of an open state than most other places, so we're seeing a big flood of people, not only just moving here and all, but working here in the film industry, which is a big boost for our community here."
Vanilla Ice also filmed his home building and renovating reality TV show "The Vanilla Ice Project" in Palm Beach County for more than a decade.
Like last year, there is no red carpet or in-person awards show because of COVID-19. The winners will be announced in a video stream at Facebook.com/StudentShowcaseofFilms.
The students are still as excited as ever, taking it all in and hoping to inspire others to shoot their shot.
"Go for it," Sheriff said, offering some encouragement to other students who may want to enter next year. "You may think it's bad, but to somebody, it's worth the hype. The world views everything differently."