EMST faculty member and 8 students win 2024 BEA Awards

A graphic with headshots and nameplates for every winner.

EMST faculty member and 8 students win 2024 BEA Awards

March 15, 2024

Works created by Matthew Nolte Evans, an assistant professor in Entertainment and Media Studies (EMST), and eight EMST students earned high recognition at the 2024 Broadcast Education Association (BEA) Festival of Media Arts competition. 

BEA Faculty Scriptwriting Competition: 

  • Matthew Nolte Evans, Best of Festival, Best of Competition, Original Television Series Pilot Category, “HELLAS”

BEA Student Scriptwriting Competition: 

  • Ray Wheeler, first place, Narrative Feature, “The Woodsman”
  • Mariana Figueiredo and Maya Gotschall, second place, Original Television Series Pilot, “Players”
  • Olivia Colburn, third place, Original Television Series Pilot, “Dandelion”
  • Lucy Howley and Raleigh Hunt, third place, Short Narrative Film, “Epicurean Exile”
  • Chris Farrar, Award of Excellence, Original Television Series Pilot, “Cyber”
  • Grant McDonald, Award of Excellence, Original Television Series Pilot, “Country Club Boys”

This year’s competition received a total of 1,885 submissions. There were 355 student winners from 80 colleges and universities and 66 faculty winners from 45 colleges and universities. Since 2021, a total of 21 current and former Grady College students have won awards at the annual festival. 

Evans’ “HELLAS”

“HELLAS” is a television show set on Mars that Evans jokes is like “Matewan” meets “The Departed.” Driven by its cat-and-mouse premise, the story explores issues of labor, technology, immigration and climate crisis. 

“I’m thrilled to be recognized by the BEA Festival of the Arts, which is the top media competition on the planet, and to represent Grady College at the ceremony this year,” said Evans. “Having a strong Grady presence at the BEA is important to me, and I think that EMST has done that the past couple years with all of our student awards, particularly in the scriptwriting categories. Our students should really be proud to be recognized in these juried competitions, as I am for them.”

Wheeler’s “The Woodsman”

“The Woodsman” is the story of three Old West bandits on the run after an attempted, but failed, double homicide. Wheeler, a third-year student, wrote the script under the guidance of Dr. Nathaniel Kohn, a professor in EMST, and Dr. Shira Chess, an associate professor in EMST. 

“I feel absolutely amazed that I’ve won this award. It’s surreal,” said Wheeler. “I’d like to give a big thank you to everyone at BEA and here at UGA for their support.”

Figueiredo and Gotschall’s “Players”

“Players” follows Jeanette Stevens, a recently divorced mother of two, who is eager to prove herself a “true” part of the rich Laguna Beach world through the soccer achievements of her teenage son, Jake. But, when Jake’s new coach turns out to be an old fling, and her arch nemesis is out to see her fail, Jeanette must do everything in her power to prove she’s the best player on the field.

Fourth-year students Figueiredo and Gotschall credit Professor Evans with helping them with “every phase” of the project, from the beat sheet to the final script. 

“His guidance and encouragement truly paved the way for Maya and me to receive this award,” said Figueiredo. “I am extremely proud of the hard work that we put into this project and am really humbled by the fact that we are being recognized for a script we are both really proud of and truly believe in.”

“I’m very happy to have won, and I’m very grateful for having taken Professor Evans’ class, which I feel had heavily influenced and improved my writing,” added Gotschall. “I couldn’t have done any of this without my writing partner and friend, Mariana Figueiredo.”

Colburn’s “Dandelion”

“Dandelion” is the story of Lex Han, a sewer cleaner working in the megacity Oasis, where it never stops raining. Han, who illegally salvages valuable scrap to further her pursuit of an unspoken vendetta, is put into a life threatening scenario when she loses consciousness and hears a mysterious voice. 

“Winning this award was extremely validating,” said Colburn, a fourth-year student. “I was glad that (“Dandelion”) was appreciated as much as I enjoyed writing it, and I plan to continue exploring sci-fi/fantasy as I build my portfolio.”

Howley and Hunt’s “Epicurean Exile”

“Epicurean Exile” tells the story of two college-aged students who are set up on a blind date at a three-star Michelin restaurant. The young man and woman are both picky eaters, but they refuse to tell each other. Will they be able to survive their date as they are served exotic dishes from a snooty waiter? 

Third-year students Howley and Hunt both credit Dr. Chess with helping them navigate the writing process. 

“Dr. Chess provided detailed feedback and criticism when needed while encouraging us to do our best,” said Howley. “I had a lot of fun and learned so much while developing this project, and I hope to bring it to production at some point during my time in the EMST major at UGA.”

“I am still on the moon after receiving this news, and it makes me even more excited for my career path ahead,” added Hunt. 

Farrar’s “Cyber”

“Cyber” tells the story of an ex-cop who, after losing everything following his actions off-duty, is unwittingly dragged into the shady operations of the FBI’s Cyber Division. Unqualified (and barely sober) he is now being targeted by a cyber terrorist group seeking to crash the global economy, starting with the U.S. banking system, but he is quickly realizing his true enemies might be closer to home than he thought. 

Farrar, a fourth-year student, credits Professor Evans for helping him develop the project, explaining that Evans’ “knowledge of the industry and the workshop-nature of his class” taught Farrar what it takes to make a great pilot. 

“The whole experience is super surreal,” said Farrar. “I’ve entered competitions before and had good and constructive feedback from judges, but this feels like I can see my skills improve. I’m excited to revise my pilot, work on new projects, and hopefully place higher next time!”

McDonald’s “Country Club Boys”

“Country Club Boys” follows Mike Connery and his fellow employees as he aims to be the next proprietor in the upscale southern town Grapevine Country Club, but he must overcome his low status and biased employers while wrestling with his ridiculous tendencies that clash with his ambitions.

McDonald, a fourth-year student, also credits Professor Evans for helping and inspiring him throughout the development of his script. 

“I am very thankful to have learned so much from an experienced writer, and plan to use what he taught me to continue informing my writing in the future,” McDonald said. “I was so excited to have won this award, as I feel that it is my first big step towards becoming a real writer for the screen. I finally felt as if my hard work had paid off, and it only encouraged me to work even harder for the future I plan to build.”

Author: Jackson Schroeder, Jackson.Schroeder@uga.edu