Student and Faculty Filmmakers Win National Awards

Student and Faculty Filmmakers Win National Awards

In a competition with nearly 1,500 entries representing 174 colleges and universities from across the country, the odds of winning one of only 18 “Best of Festival” awards at the Broadcast Education Association’s annual convention are minimal.

Winning two? Miniscule at best. But that’s exactly what George Fox pulled off in 2017, as cinema and media communication professor Dawn Ford and student Emily Hamilton earned prizes in their respective categories. They were honored at the BEA’s 15th annual Festival of Media Arts awards ceremony in Las Vegas on April 24.

Student and Faculty Filmmakers Win National Awards

Hamilton, a senior CMCO major, won the “Student Animation/Mixed Experimental” category for her stop-motion film Lucy and the Fly. Ford, who joined George Fox in the fall of 2016 as an associate professor of media communication, won the “Faculty Mixed Video” category for her production work on a PBS-style documentary, Hidden Beauty: Tokyo, that she spent two terms working on while at Huntington University in Indiana.

Other winners in the competition included Division I schools with household names: California, Florida, Syracuse, Michigan State, Arizona State and Maryland.

“It seems unlikely that a small film program like ours would be able to bring so much excellence to the nation,” Ford says. “It just shows how supportive George Fox is of its filmmakers and demonstrates the overall quality of this program. It’s a hidden gem. Had Emily tried to make her animated film in almost any other program, faculty would have likely shut her down because it was too ambitious.”

Hamilton’s three-minute film – about a little girl in a desert landscape who falls down a hole and has an adventure with a monster, a spider and her firefly friend – took an entire spring term to complete and required a crew of nine often working long weekends and late nights. The film, reflecting a style similar to those produced by the Hillsboro-based Laika animation studio (Coraline, ParaNorman, Kubo and the Two Strings), used armatures – tiny skeleton-like puppets.

“Our crew had 10- to 13-hour days and 20-hour weekends for about a month,” says Hamilton, who plans to pursue filmmaking at a Portland-area studio. “The award was really a team award, and I was excited for the school, too, because our little-known film program is growing and is fantastic.”

Ford’s piece involved taking students to Tokyo for three location shoots and hiring an international crew that included a director of photography from Germany and a photographer from Taiwan. The film tells the stories of Christian artisans in Tokyo who use their craft to express their faith. Plans call for it to air on a local PBS station.

Both projects culminated in Las Vegas, where the duo was honored by the premier international academic media organization. “We were honored to go there and represent George Fox,” Hamilton says. “It just shows that, no matter how ‘small’ you might be, you can accomplish great things.”