Chad Veal (‘20) and Brendan Wallace (‘20) have received the $10,000 Loreen Arbus Focus on Disability Scholarship from the Television Academy for their documentary “20 Over.” It is Taylor’s first College Television Award.
The news arrived in Kathy Bruner’s inbox Wednesday morning. Bruner serves as the department co-chair of the art, film and media department and is also an associate professor of film and media production. She read the email at 9:30 a.m., then she screamed.
For Bruner, this was the fulfillment of a dream: Taylor students and the university itself were receiving recognition from the Television Academy.
“Chad and Brendan are remarkable examples of the kind of people we’re trying to develop in our program,” Bruner said. “They’re people who are great storytellers (and) who recognize the importance of telling the truth about the human experience.”
The documentary highlights the story of Noah Malone, an Indiana native and a member of Team USA’s track and field team at the Paralympic level. Malone has Leber’s hereditary optic neuropathy, which results in him being legally blind in both his right and left eye. He has 20/600 vision in his right eye and 20/400 vision in his left.
As a runner before coming to Taylor, Veal, who served as the film’s director, was aware of Malone’s unique situation and desired to tell his story via a documentary. While most student films consist of four-member teams, Veal and Wallace were put into a team of three. When the third member of the group dropped the class, it was just Veal and Wallace.
The two weren’t phased.
“He knew the direction of the film (and where) he wanted to go, so I had no problem following him wherever he wanted to go because I trusted his vision that he had in mind,” Wallace said.
Aside from serving as a producer on “20 Over,” Wallace created an original soundtrack consisting of hip-hop and new-age themes. This allowed the two to spend more money on other aspects of production. Since graduating, Wallace has taken a job at Sweetwater Sound, a retailer specializing in instruments and audio equipment.
“What we did know was that he’s great at making music,” Veal said. “That’s what set the film — (it’s) those little things — over the edge.”
Bruner, who served as an executive producer on the project, knew that the documentary had the potential to be special once she encountered the raw footage both Veal and Wallace would be working with.
Along with archival footage, the duo was able to attend and shoot a TED Talk in Indianapolis featuring Malone.
“Chad is a very skilled editor, and that’s where documentaries are made, (it) is in the editing,” Bruner said. “They did a wonderful job.”
According to Bruner, the award not only thrusts Taylor’s film and media department into the national spotlight; it also encourages more prospective students interested in film to consider applying at Taylor.
Tom Jones, interim provost, is also hopeful that the award will continue to boost and solidify Taylor’s film program as one of the best in the country.
“It makes it possible for the world beyond Taylor to understand that the film and media program here is a world class program, and that students who are a part of the program from their first year through their senior year are engaged in hands-on projects that equip them to be extremely successful in the film and media industry,” Jones said. “It raises the visibility of the university.”
The 41st College Television Awards will take place on March 24-26. Both Veal and Wallace will be honored during the event. According to The Academy, the number of COVID-19 cases at the time will determine whether or not the event will be held in-person. If the awards ceremony does take place in Los Angeles and not virtually, Veal and Wallace plan on attending.