SAN ANTONIO — Caroline Cabral turned the frenetic energy in her quest to be successful into an award-winning film short.
"I've had my moments in life where I feel very, like, just stressed out, overwhelmed," Cabral said. "I really wanted to put that on a paper and show how I feel sometimes."
The 16-year-old AP Studio Art student at Champion High School also does graphic design and art. She captures various stress images in the stippling drawing technique, where tiny dots create the picture.
"Stress is a very real thing in the school world," she said.
The high school junior incorporated the uncertainty of stress and the journey for purpose into an award-winning film. But it started differently because the project was stressful too.
"It's very hard to find a balance, especially at such a young age, still trying to figure out like who we're supposed to be," Cabral said.
Champion High Graphics Design and illustration teacher Jeff Vogel needed to determine where Cabral's storytelling in the animated short would land.
"I saw bits and pieces of it---scene eight. Then, I saw scene ten. Scene three, and I'm like, This doesn't make much sense," Vogel said.
The animation coach said he would wait until she completed it. It took the honors student eight months to develop the story, sketch out a volume of storyboards, and animate and score original music for her film.
"When I saw it, I just went, that's going to make the finals," Vogel said.
Cabral used an unnamed line seeking purpose to bring 'Lifeline' to fruition. In two minutes and 58 seconds, the line goes on a journey, trying to find a fit in good and bad places. It finally finds its reason for existence in the hospital room with a little in a hospital bed.
"You start rooting for a line," Vogel said. "That line had gone through things that it wasn't meant to do."
"Lifeline" was Cabral's first University Interscholastic League entry. She became a finalist but was not sure a win was imminent---until they called her name.
"I just froze in place, and my arms were shaking. And I look back at my mom, and I'm like, what do I do?." Cabral said. "And she's like, go, go, go."
As the winning coach, Vogel joined her on stage, where the two were all nervous.
"She was like, I'm shaking. And I was like, I am too," he said.
Cabral became the school's first student to win gold at the UIL film festival. Vogel compared the moment to feeling like the Oscars.
Meantime, the film's squiggly star may reflect a universal journey, but the line could mirror its creator.
"Everyone has a place in the world, and we're all going to get there eventually," Cabral said. "We're all going to find out who we're meant to be."
Cabral, who is in the top 6% of her class, plans to enter the contest next year.