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The Echo
Taylor University, Upland, IN
Thursday, May 30, 2024
The Echo
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Film and Media Arts senior awards show wraps up the year

Student projects receive various accolades

As filming wraps up for the seniors' narrative projects, so does their college experience.

The 2024 school year has been coming to a close, and seniors in the Taylor University film and media arts major put the finishing touches on their narrative film projects and cobbled together a reel highlighting their various projects over the years.

The film department hosts an end-of-year awards show annually that showcases the aforementioned demo reels from each graduating senior. During this time, they hand out awards for various categories.

The show for this year was held on May 6. Among the students receiving accolades were Trevor Cebulskie, who won best director, and Cullen Carerra, who won best cinematographer. Emily Crosier picked up best producer, and Christina Russell won best screenwriter.

Other awards featured were more class-oriented, such as best documentary from the documentary filmmaking class and best long-form audio project.

“It’s one of the only times that we have everyone together,” senior Naomi Yoder, a film and media arts major, said. “It’s fun to see the culmination of everyone’s hard work.”

Yoder said that her four years as a film major have taught her a lot about being a woman in the film industry, especially after participating in the semester-long Los Angeles Internship Program.

As the writer and director, Yoder spent hours on the large undertaking of “Club Lasagna.” The film centers around a spy agent trainee receiving her first mission to a strange Midwest town. 

Yoder said that she is exhausted thanks to the film post-production process, but said that she is excited to screen it during the awards show alongside the rest of the senior narrative projects.

“I’m going to miss the people, that’s for sure,” Yoder said. “I will certainly not miss the late nights spent working on it.” 

When it came to actually creating the narrative piece, senior Ethan Coppel, a film and media major, had hands-on experience.

Coppel worked hard with his team to shoot their narrative project, “Wilderness Trip.” The story centered around an unprepared camp counselor who learned that it was okay to ask for help after attempting to lead his group of young campers through a night of hijinks in the forest.

As the team editor, Coppel was present each day and night of filming deep into the woods during the late, cold hours.

Coppel’s advice for anyone coming into the major, especially those that were around for the shooting of his narrative, is to come out and help on every film shoot they can.

“The ease of support is a great benefit to working on projects,” he said. “We had someone just holding a light on one of our late shoots, and it was super helpful.”

Coppel hopes to move to Nashville after graduation and get a job working in the film industry there. He said that his favorite part of being a film major was going to Portugal on the international production trip this past J-Term.

“If you’re not having fun while filmmaking, you’re probably not doing it right,” he added.

Senior Aidan Merck, a film and media arts major, joined the program his freshman year to pursue a career in film.

Merck is the writer and director of “Wilderness Trip” and has worked hard to schedule shoots for the film. Their team wrapped up filming on May 5, with the screening only six days away.

“Scheduling has been chaotic, to say the least,” he said. “From what we’ve gotten so far, I think we’ll have something we’re excited to show people at the screening.”

His favorite part of working on the narrative project is getting to work alongside the actors and crew. Merck was a producer on his previous project, “Justice for Batman,” a documentary that was a multi-award-winning semi-finalist at the Student Academy Awards.

He said that making this documentary was one of his favorite things he had ever done at Taylor in the film department. 

“I’ll miss seeing everyone and hanging out with everybody,” he said. “The film program is made up of a diverse group of students that are passionate about filmmaking, and getting to collaborate with them is easily the most fun part.”