As a child, Brianna Craven starred in home movies directed by her mother.
"But I hated acting," she recalled this week. "I'd always watched her editing and filming and eventually she taught me how to use the camera."
Craven has been making her own movies since she was in middle school.
Earlier this month, the 18-year-old HCC freshman from South Hadley won first place in the "7 Day Film Sprint," a one-week competition sponsored by Northampton Community Television. "Dead Awake," her five-minute movie about a young woman running for her life in a post-apocalyptic world, beat out 23 other entries.
"I was just excited to have one of my films screened somewhere," said Craven, "'cause I've only really shared them with friends on Facebook and with my family, so it was cool to get myself out there."
The competition had some rigid guidelines. Everyone had to use a mirror as a prop and "I thought it was the other way around" as a line of dialogue. Genre was assigned at random.
"I read a lot of post-apocalyptic books, so I'm all into that stuff," she said, "so it's lucky I drew that genre."
The competition began on Monday, Feb. 29, and concluded seven days later. When it came time to assemble a cast and crew, Craven knew where to turn -- her family.
Her team -- they called themselves the "Space Cadets" -- included her younger sister Stephanie, who stars as the young protagonist, her mother and assorted uncles and cousins. They filmed at various locations in South Hadley and Holyoke.
While Craven filmed, directed and edited "Dead Awake," the writing credit belongs to the entire team, she said, because everyone contributed ideas to the story, and, given the short timeframe, the script was very loose.
In putting the film together, she made good use of the skills she learned from her mother growing up and those she is learning now as an electronic media major at HCC.
"My mother used to force me to storyboard all my films, but now I do it because it helps organize the set and makes things go more smoothly," she said. "The editing for 'Dead Awake' was really hard because we didn't have a solid plot, so we were mushing around different ideas, switching the order of events."
Sprint festival entries were judged on creativity, originality, interpretation of genre, and use of the prompts. The movies were screened and the winners announced on Tuesday, March 7, at the Parlor Room in Northampton.
For winning the "7 Day Film Sprint," Craven earned a gold medal and "bragging rights," she said.
More accolades could follow. "Dead Awake" will now be entered into regional and national film competitions.
PHOTOS: (Left) HCC electronic media student Brianna Craven directed her sister Stephanie Craven in her short film, "Dead Awake." (Right) Brianna Craven.