28 September 2023 • Alums Finalist for the $25K Prize at Haydenfilms Institute 5.0

Director and screenwriter Rachel Thomas-Medwid’s ’91’s film In the Company of Crows is a finalist in Haydenfilms Institute 5.0 and could win a 25K prize.

Buzz for the short film In the Company of Crows has included a New England Film Star Award and an 18 festival run. Now, screenwriter and director Rachel Thomas-Medwid’s ’91, P’23 film is in the finals of the Haydenfilms Online Film Festival. 

In the Company of Crows poster

In the Company of Crows

The story follows a teenage girl with autism who befriends crows to save herself after being victimized by her neighbor and classmate. Watch the trailer here.

Until Oct. 30, audiences can watch and vote for the film here. The top four-rated films in the Haydenfilms Institute move on to a live festival in Los Angeles with the winner receiving $25,000.

The film’s cast and crew features HWS alums including Ethan Massat ’21, Hannah McDonald ’23 and Thomas-Medwid’s daughter Madison Medwid ’23. Husband Dr. William Medwid ’90, P’23 served as the set physician.

In order to create a “realistic and respectful” portrait of the main character, Thomas-Medwid interviewed mothers of teenagers with autism and invited professionals to consult on the script.

When it comes to film and art, Thomas-Medwid believes “visual storytelling is such an effective medium to draw attention to issues and inspire conversations.” A gratifying part of the film’s creation, the screenwriter says, has been connecting with viewers who identify with the story and character. 

“Film is for entertainment but it's also about having a voice and what you choose to say when you're creating a story,” Thomas-Medwid says. “And even though the film has an autistic protagonist, it's not about autism but about teenage vulnerability, particularly in females.”

In the Company of Crows was created in July 2020. During the height of new and quickly changing COVID-19 protocols, Thomas-Medwid says she is proud of the cinematic quality of the film, which was achieved while keeping her cast and crew safe.

“Many films that were shot during the time are about the pandemic or have very limited visuals because of restrictions and I'm proud that we were able to create a film that cinematically rises above the feel of that time,” she says.

HWS cast and crew on the film gather for a photo. 

HWS cast and crew on the film gather for a photo. 

Thomas-Medwid is an award-winning screenwriter, director and independent filmmaker. Recent honors include the ISA Top 25 Screenwriter to Watch; recipient of The Michelle Mower Female Filmmaker of the Year Award; Best Narrative Short Film Director, Mystic Film Festival; Best Writer/Director, Austin Revolution Film Festival, and recipient of the Female Filmmaker Award at the Lonely Seal International Film Festival for her film The Squirrels in the Attic, which was taken to the Cannes Film Market during the Cannes Film Festival. The film screened at 17 festivals worldwide and won numerous awards.

*There is a $1.99 fee to watch and vote in the competition. The fee gives viewers 7 day access to watch all of the finalists.  

In the photo above, Madison Medwid ’23, Hannah McDonald ’23 and Ethan Massat ’21 are ready on set with director and screenwriter Rachel Thomas-Medwid ’91, ’23.