Lights, camera, action!: Teen filmmaker builds award-winning resume


Sophia Winters, a senior at Zionsville Community High School, is making a name for herself in the film world.

As the writer, director and editor of the award-winning short films “Game Plan,” “A Day In the Life” and “Voice,” Winters aspires for a career as a filmmaker.

The 17-year-old film director has three films selected to be screened at more than 50 film festivals around the world, including the Victory International Film Festival in Evansville and the World Film Carnival in Singapore, to name a few. The films have been shown to audiences at theaters in 10 different countries on five continents.

“I have loved films and filmmaking my entire life,” Winters said. “When it comes to filmmaking, I love all of it, but my real passion is in film editing. It’s like putting together all the pieces of the puzzle.”

Winter’s interest in filmmaking began in middle school after making a short documentary film, “Operation Cowboy,” for a school assignment that placed sixth at the National History Day competition, a nonprofit education organization improving the teaching and learning of history in Washington, D.C.

“The first thing you notice when you talk to Sophia is how creative she is in everything she does. Her direction is so clear and thoughtful, and she has a collaborative style that brings out the best in her actors and makes her vision really come alive,” said Nora Hubert, an actor from the Chicago area who worked on the films “Voice” and “Game Plan.”

Determined to make a narrative film, Winters said she spent two years researching and learning film techniques and editing software before beginning the writing process in 2020.

“If tomorrow I was asked to be in another one of her projects, I wouldn’t hesitate to say yes,” said Jarod Lukehart, an actor from Illinois who appeared in “Game Plan.”

In 2021, Winters wrote, directed and edited “Voice”, a short film that explores the danger of suppressing self-expression and one’s own voice. The film was awarded Best High School Film at the Victory International Film Festival in July of 2022.

“The success of ‘Voice’ inspired me to continue pursuing my passion for filmmaking,” Winters said.

In 2022, Winters wrote, directed and edited two more short films, “Game Plan” and “A Day In the Life.”

“Game Plan” is a comedy that follows a group of associates who meet to finalize a high-stakes business deal that will lead to the end for one of them. The story explores the dynamics between friendship and business and challenges perceptions of power and control, particularly related to gender.

Without spoilers, ‘Game Plan’ turns in a way that I wasn’t expecting, but at the same time was hinted at from the beginning, and if I’m being honest, it just shows how good of a writer she is,” Lukehart said.

The film received the Best Young Filmmaker award at the World Film Carnival in Singapore and Best Director at the Near Nazareth Film Festival in Israel. “Game Plan” also earned Winters a nomination for the Rising Star Female Filmmaker honor at the largest student film festival in the world, the All American High School film festival in New York City.

“Game Plan” is set to be part of the Indy Shorts Festival, presented by Heartland Film in Indianapolis.

“Indy Shorts is the festival for every emerging filmmaker in the world,” Winters said. “Having my film screen as a part of that festival really will be a dream come true. The fact that the festival is local makes it even more surreal.”

“A Day In the Life” follows a woman as she navigates her increasingly complicated daily routine and is a satire about the world. The film was an official selection and Best Micro-movie finalist at the All American High School Film Festival, and has screened at festivals in Ireland, Canada and India. It has been nominated for several awards.

Winters said she has three additional films in development and hopes to begin production on one of them this summer. Her new film, with a working title of “Mindless,” she said is important for several reasons.

“’Mindless’ is based on a true story that happened right here in central Indiana, although I can’t divulge too much of the story yet, but it happened in the 1890’s,” Winters said. “It’s an incredible story, and one that many people are not familiar with, so I really want to see the story get told. I’d like to turn it into a thriller and horror story.”

Because the newest film is a period piece and based on actual events, Winters said the production requires much more detail in research, wardrobe and set design, and for that reason she wants to raise production funds externally for the first time.

“I need to reach out to members of the Zionsville and central Indiana communities to help get this film produced,” she said. “I really believe that people will want to see this get made.”

Winters said she has ambitious plans for her future in filmmaking. She has been accepted to several film schools and is making her decision on which one she will attend next fall.

“I have so much to learn and am really excited to take the next step,” Winters said.

“I want to help others take on the challenge of making independent films, so I volunteered to provide support to ZCHS students who are interested in filmmaking during the winter break next year.”

Winters said she wants to inspire and entertain audiences with her films.

“I want to tell stories that are authentic and meaningful,” she said. “I want to create films that make people think and feel and maybe even inspire them to make a positive change in their own lives.”

Behind the scenes from the set of “Game Plan.” Sophia Winters gives direction to cast and crew. (Photo courtesy of Sophia Winters)

Making connections

Sophia Winters would like to connect with other filmmakers in the Zionsville community to bring people together with the same passion.

“I would love to be able to connect with other people in the community, and I would like to have some way to grow a stronger community of filmmakers,” she said.

For more on Winters, visit

For more on her films, visit Sophia Winters.

Winters can also be found on Instagram at @sosareeproductions.