Three students take home awards at 2022 BEA Festival of Media Arts

Work created by students in Grady College’s Department of Entertainment and Media Studies earned high recognition at this year’s Broadcast Education Association (BEA) Festival of Media Arts competition. 

Benjamin Otten, an EMST student from Athens, Georgia, earned an award of excellence in the competition’s narrative category for his short film “As it Lies.” Likewise, Sherry Liang, an EMST student from Johns Creek, Georgia, and MFA student Taylor Potter (AB ‘21), who is from Acworth, Georgia, both took home awards of excellence in the short narrative film/half-hour television category. Liang was recognized for her film “Cheater, Cheater,” while Potter received recognition for her film “Wheelhouse.”

Each year, this competitive challenge receives more than 1,500 submissions from students and faculty from around the world. The BEA, a nonprofit organization in Washington D.C., focuses on driving insights in media production and career advancement for educators, students and professionals around the globe. 

Otten’s “As it Lies” wins award of excellence, narrative category

Otten’s “As it Lies” tells the story of a grief-stricken golfer, Phil, who notoriously does not play it as it lies on the course or off. However, this habit is challenged with the arrival of a divot tool from Phil’s late father, and he has to decide whether to become the person his family needs him to be or to fall further into the bunker. 

Otten, who started writing his script in Professor Matthew Nolte Evans’ class, said that he found a lot of inspiration from both movies like “Field of Dreams” that use sports as metaphors and from his own experience playing with his dad on the golf course.

“I was really excited to see it selected as a finalist in the most competitive category of the festival,” Otten said about his film. “This really assured me that the amount of work that went into the project (from development to post) was worth it. It’s also encouraged me to produce more work to submit and possibly grab a top prize in the coming year.”

Liang’s “Cheater, Cheater” wins award of excellence, short narrative film/half-hour television category

Liang’s dark comedy series “Cheater, Cheater” follows a student journalist’s investigation of her competitive high school’s cheating scandals, which lead to webs of deception and corruption beyond control. 

Liang, who thanks Professor Evans for helping her find her voice and confidence in screenwriting, gained inspiration for the script by looking back at her own high school experience. 

“Writing a script about the absurdities of attending a competitive high school is much cheaper than therapy,” said Liang. “Four years later, I’m still processing my high school experience — mostly characterized by crippling academic pressures, but I also have fond memories of friends, family and growing up in a vibrant Asian community that I hoped to capture in narrative form.” 

This was the first time Liang has ever submitted a script to anything out of class, she explained. For that reason, Liang said she is flattered that people found the story entertaining. 

“There’s a long way to go for the story,” said Liang. “I’ve already rewritten parts of it. But I’m proud of myself for starting a script that I’ve been putting off for so long … two years, to be exact.”

Potter’s “Wheelhouse” wins award of excellence, short narrative film/half-hour television category

Potter’s script tells the story of Dani Brubaker, a failed screenwriter. After returning from Los Angeles to her humble origins in Georgia, Brubaker receives one last chance to prove herself—on a reality car show. However, there are three problems with her potential career saving opportunity: Dani knows nothing about cars, she is forced to move back in with her parents and the show is on the brink of falling apart. 

Potter, who thanks Constance Burge of the MFA Narrative Media Writing program for helping with the project, got the idea for the story after working on a reality car show in spring 2020. 

“It was an absolutely crazy time, and I thought to myself, this show writes itself,” said Potter. “This past fall, in my first semester of the MFA, I decided to write what I know and set out to pen this script, which incorporates a fictionalized version of my experience working on a reality car show.”

This is the second year in a row Potter has been awarded at BEA festival, splitting the last year’s top overall prize in the student category with Ana González (AB ‘21) for their television pilot “Buyer’s Remorse.”

Potter said she is “so excited and thankful to have a script accepted and awarded at BEA two years in a row.”

“Receiving an award from them really means a lot to me and helps affirm that I’m on the right path,” Potter added. “It’s also really fun to share this experience with another Grady student, Sherry Liang, who received an award of excellence as well. Here’s to writing the next one!”

#ProfilesOfTenacity: Ana González

Why did you choose Grady and your course of study?

I initially chose UGA to go into journalism, but after learning more about the EMST program, I realized that my passion for creative writing would be a better fit in the filmmaking industry.

What does the word “tenacity” mean to you?

For me, “tenacity” means persisting in spite of every struggle, big or small, that comes one’s way.

What has been your proudest moment in the past year?

My proudest moment this year was when my classmate Taylor Potter and I won Best Original Television Series Pilot and later the Best of Festival Student Scriptwriting Award at this year’s BEA Media Festival for our project, “Buyer’s Remorse.”

What would people be surprised to know about you?

People would be surprised to know that I can lick both of my elbows.

What is your most memorable Grady experience?

My favorite memory at Grady was being part of student film crews. I’ve had such a great time helping my classmates create movies and I also learned more about myself along the way. The opportunity to apply what I’ve learned in class as well as the chance to bond with others has been the highlight of my EMST career.

What are you passionate about?

I am most passionate about representation in the media. The characters we see, whether portrayed by an actor or drawn by an artist, mean the world to someone watching. As our society continues to grow, I hope to be a part of projects that tell audience members that they are seen and heard.

What or who has had the biggest impact on your life during your time at UGA?

My fellow EMST majors as a whole had a big impact during my time at UGA. I enjoyed getting to know so many other people who were passionate about entertainment. Their drive to create encouraged me to follow my dreams of one day becoming a screenwriter.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve received from an instructor, mentor or family member?

My grandmother has always told me as a kid, “every problem has a solution.” No matter what roadblocks attempt to hold me back, there’s always a way to keep moving forward.

What is an example of a time you used your studies and skills in a real-world experience?

For my film development internship at Manalive Media Group, I apply what I’ve learned in screenwriting classes to a fast-paced environment. I enjoy collaborating with others and do my best to help my fellow interns out however I can.

Who is your professional hero?

My professional hero is Guillermo Del Toro. I enjoy seeing his imagination come to live through his movies as well as how he incorporates aspects of the real-world into his stories. The fact that he tends to lean more towards the macabre also resonates with me.

What are you planning to do after graduation? What is your dream job?

I hope to one day move out to Los Angeles to pursue a screenwriter career in film and television. I also hope to travel the world so I can see new sights and gain new sparks of inspiration.

What has been the hardest part about adjusting to COVID-19 in your life as a student and future professional?

For me, the hardest thing COVID-19 has done is make all my internship experiences online. I have definitely learned a lot from these remote programs, but I am eager to begin working in-person as soon as possible.

What is your favorite app or social media channel?

My favorite app is Snapchat.

Where is your favorite place on campus?

My favorite place on campus is the turtle pond outside of the ecology building. My Dawg Camp group was introduced to it back in 2017 and it has remained my favorite spot throughout college.

Four students earn top awards at 2021 BEA Festival of Media Arts

Editor’s Note: Taylor Potter and Ana González are BEA Best of Festival winners. Their television pilot script won out of all first place winners in the student category. They will split the $1,000 prize.

Students in Grady College’s Department of Entertainment and Media Studies  won big at the Broadcast Education Association’s creative competition, Festival of Media Arts. 

Fourth-year students Taylor Potter and Ana González took home first place for original television series pilot script. Second-year student Hyde Healy received an award of excellence in the same category, and fourth-year student Tévon Knight received an award of excellence for a short video.

The BEA is the premiere international academic media organization driving insights, excellence in media production and career advancement for educators and students. The competition receives over 1,500 submissions representing students and faculty from schools around the world.

Potter and González developed their television pilot, “Buyer’s Remorse,” in Professor Matthew Evans’ writing for television course, which was launched last semester. The show depicts the perils of a realtor who, desperate to make a mid-career comeback, resorts to dealing drugs to save her family from foreclosure but becomes the catalyst for her family’s destruction. 

The course’s emphasis on peer collaboration allowed Potter and González to refine their work, and it taught them important lessons on story, character and conflict.

‘“Buyer’s Remorse” seeks to discover the lengths to which a mother and wife would go to save and protect her family at the expense of herself and her career,” they said.

The moment the “Buyer’s Remorse” team learned of their award.
Healy’s pilot script for the show “Command Sandwich” showcases his passion and skill for writing. Healy wrote the pilot before taking classes in the EMST program. His sister Isabella, who studied cinematic arts at the University of Southern California, played an active role in providing feedback for the script’s first draft, Healy said.

“I used my dysfunctional workplace experience in food service as the basis for this pilot. I love comedy, and my dream job is to write comedy professionally, so I thought I’d used the time granted while the world was shut down to write this pilot,” Healy said.

He credits involvement in clubs like The Industry and Sharkwing Sketch Comedy for exposing him to student work and inspiring him to write the pilot. 

Knight also received an award of excellence for his one minute campaign video of Brianna Hayes, a candidate for UGA Student Government Association president in 2020. 

“In the span of about 72 hours, I directed, shot, and edited the project together,” Knight said. “I think this award was a true confidence boost. BEA is not easy to compete in because colleges across the nation send in high-quality pieces.”

One key element Knight took away from his Grady classes is the necessity to devote all of himself to the project in order for it to feel authentic and be effective. The shooting styles and compositions used in the video were techniques he learned in Professor Garland McLaurin’s cinematography class, Knight said.

EMST students win national recognition

The work of two students in the Department of Entertainment and Media Studies has earned national recognition in the annual Festival of Media Arts conducted by the Broadcast Education Association.

Emma Murphy earned Second Place in the Original Television Series Pilot category for her script “Cloverleaf Mall.” Joe Lavine and Chris Carson (cinematography) earned an Award of Excellence in the Short Form Documentary category for their film “From the Shadows: The Struggle for El Pueblo.” Included on the crew was EMST student David Andriate (animation).

Students from 175 different colleges and universities throughout the country submitted 1,540 entries to the competition. The award was announced Feb. 6.

“I can’t say enough about these accomplishments,” said James Hamilton, professor and head of the Department of Entertainment and Media Studies. “Given what our students continue to achieve in these important competitions, we can claim to be among the best in the nation.”

Murphy’s winning entry “Cloverleaf Mall: Yesterday’s Mall of Tomorrow” tells the humorous story of a world left behind by the Internet Age, and a man who refuses to let it go. Herman Stetson is an optimist to a fault as well as the mall’s longtime manager. In the pilot script, Herman plans to bring holiday revenue peaks to July by introducing Summer Santa, a mall Santa for the warmer months. However, when Santa must resort to pitching the mall’s ticket items to children, cries of Corporate Santa turn the event into a media scandal. The script explores how Herman in his blissful ineptitude tries to navigate this PR disaster.

“I am so humbled to be recognized by the BEA Festival and Competition,” said Murphy.  

One of the most important lessons she plans to take with her post-graduation concerns the value of creative collaboration. She thanked EMST faculty Kate Fortmueller for her creative guidance, and also her writing group members in Fortmueller’s class, students Thomas Heiges and Marshall Moore.

Murphy’s script is noteworthy in great part due to “the eccentric and original characters,” said Fortmueller. “What made this script particularly memorable was Murphy’s wit, word-play, and attention to structure to maximize the humor,” she added.

Lavine’s entry, “From the Shadows: The Struggle for El Pueblo,” highlights the struggles of the undocumented community, while calling for an end to deportation and incarceration in the United States. Produced in collaboration with the Athens Immigrant Rights Coalition, the film is rooted in Athens, Georgia, but is applicable anywhere where immigrant organizing takes place. By offering a first-hand account of efforts to challenge Georgia’s anti-immigrant legislation–including a ban of undocumented students from University System of Georgia schools– the documentary also addresses the problematic narratives surrounding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy.

“When you put in months of work on a project that you doubted on many occasions that you could actually execute, [and] a project that means something to the community” said Lavine, “it’s definitely nice to get recognized on a national stage.”

Along with crediting his crew members Carson and Andriate and a past adjunct instructor Dale Wheatley, Lavine appreciated the “amazingly thorough, constructive feedback” from Booker T. Mattison and Taylor Miller. “I cannot express enough gratitude for these professors and their dedication to pushing students to be their best storytellers.”

After viewing a rough cut of Lavine’s short documentary, “it was abundantly clear that he had vision” said Mattison. “I was eager to help him sculpt and refine his very fine documentary,” he continued. “I look forward to seeing all that he will accomplish.”