Two Dodge students are finalists for Student Academy Awards

student academy awards
Shelby Thompson was nominated for a Student Academy Award from the Academy of Motion Pictures for her film “Relentless.” The short documentary focuses on Marty O’ Connor, an athlete. Photo by Gabriella Anderson

Kaylin George and Shelby Thompson have their eyes set on one date: Oct. 17. It will be a day that could change their careers, as they are in the running to win a Student Academy Award from the Academy of Motion Pictures.

In August 2019, George, a Film Production major, and Thompson, a Broadcast Journalism and Documentary major, were among the 36 nominees for the award, beating out thousands of applicants.

“There were so many incredible pieces made and so many talented individuals who are submitting,” George said. “It really is amazing to have been selected. It means so much to myself and my crew.”

To students at the Dodge College of Film and Media Arts, the Student Academy Awards provides filmmakers with greater confidence in their work as well as career opportunities.

Past recipients have gone on to submit their films to festivals like the Sundance Film Festival–the largest film festival in the U.S.–amongst others.

Being a nominee or recipient of a Student Academy Award can open doors in the film and television industry for media students to begin their careers, according to Michael Kowalski, interim dean of Dodge.

“(The nomination) was super unexpected,” Thompson said. “I’m completely honored and I was truly amazed and shocked.”

It was both George’s and Thompson’s first time submitting their film to the Student Academy Awards.

George’s film, “Two Paper Nightingales,” brings current world problems like resentment into a fantasy universe, as two sisters find themselves with varying views of culture. She has been nominated in the alternative/experimental film category.

George credits the film’s inspiration to a story her mother used to read to her as a child.

“When I was very young, there was a particular fairytale called ‘Forty Fortunes.’ It had detailed illustrations and depicted Iran thousands of years ago,” George said. “When I was a little bit older, I had a friend of mine who travelled to Greece bring me back a book of Grecian fairy tales and I found in that book the exact same story that I had grown up reading with my mother.”

Thompson’s film “Relentless” falls under the category for short domestic documentary and follows the comeback story of Marty O’Connor, an athlete left disabled after an accident, who reclaimed his life through his love for snowboarding. Thompson’s documentary– which shows O’Connor’s perseverance and life after his accident.

“It was his relentless journey, finding acceptance and then eventually getting back to what he loves,” Thompson said.

Thompson met O’Connor while working as his intern. Unsure of her senior thesis topic at the time, she found her inspiration through her work with him. Their mutual love of sports and community led Thompson to her documentary, now in the running for the prestigious award.

Kowalski told The Panther that receiving a nomination for a Student Academy Award is a great boost to a student’s resume and can open many doors. The Student Academy Awards are a great benefit to the ranking of Dodge among other schools as well, he said.

“We’re extremely proud and it reflects well on our school,” Kowalski said. “The fact that there is a number of nominations says something about our program.”