Ward Melville High School senior Nicholas Fernandez grabbed a top award in a film competition with the very first video he made.

Fernandez, 17, won the short-film category of the Association of Texas Photography Instructors' fall photography competition.

His 11/2-minute video, "Félagslega Grímu," or "Social Mask," featured classmate Kaila Miller as she was repeatedly handed a white mask by a hooded figure who was wearing a similar mask.

"It was the first video that I've ever made," Fernandez said. "It's about how I sometimes feel a need to do what everyone else does in society. There's an internal battle."

The idea for the video, which began as a self-portrait assignment in his video production class, "popped" into his head one day in the East Setauket school's hallway, he said. He created the piece using his father's Canon video camera.

Fernandez enjoys drawing and painting and said he has created about 60 pieces during his high school years.

"I usually just go with what feels right," he said.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

At Ward Melville, Fernandez is a member of the National Art Honor Society and Cinnabar, the school's literary magazine and creative writing club.