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!”