Choosing the Finalists:”It’s amazing how… this competition has blown up!”
The Grand Prize judging for the 2nd Annual Young Minds Digital Times competition is currently underway. The contest has seen so many fantastic films from all over the country and choosing who will walk away with the coveted prize is no easy task.
Our expert judges have viewed, critiques, and weighed in on their choices, but who are these judges? What do they know that makes them perfect for this task? It comes down to experience and the desire to give encouragement to these young filmmakers.
Let’s take a closer look at a few of our judges – they come from all areas in the field and have different points of view on what makes a film great….
Dano Johnson – Dano Johnson began his love of creating educational and entertaining content while at the University of Texas at Austin’s Student Television Station. His career includes an internship at Sesame Workshop, and creating his own production company, Collection Agency Films, developing animated content. In fact, you can vote for one of his animation NOW to get on Sesame Street (your change to vote ends May 10th).
His web cartoon ads for “Kinky Friedman” earned a Telly advertising award, while his short film ‘Tall Tales & Other Big Lies’ won runner-up for best animation at SXSW 2006. His music video for the New York Dolls song, “Dance Like a Monkey,” won best music video at the 2006 Bradford Animation Festival. He most recently co-directed and animated ‘Flatland: The Movie‘, starring Martin Sheen, Michael York, and Kristen Bell.
Ivy Koehler – During her years in college, Ivy began to explore the growing world of video blogging by creating projects that would be an outlet for creativity and a true form of art that had the potential to reach the masses. She also performed in several plays and musicals which led to a job with i Entertainment, an inventive event company that houses an improv and murder mystery team. Currently, Ivy works at the Music Hall at Fair Park in their public relations and marketing departments as well as living the life of a “starving” actor. Through benefit concerts and performance-based fundraisers, Ivy believes that philanthropic opportunities are around every corner and loves to take part in socially conscience organizations. “[This competition] looks like the most incredible opportunity for kids not only to do something outside of the classroom to stay busy, but to truly learn what it means to create something. Speaking of creativity! These are so professionally done! Oh my gosh. Unbelievable. “
Lodge McCammon – Dr. Lodge McCammon is a Specialist in Curriculum and Contemporary Media at the Friday Institute for Educational Innovation. He developed a teaching and professional development process called FIZZ which encourages and models best practices in implementing user-generated video in the classroom to enhance standards- based lessons. He is also a studio composer and musician who writes standards-based songs, with supporting materials, about advanced curriculum for K-12 classrooms. “[Filmmaking] is exceptionally difficult to do … so kudos to all for the attempt.”
Laura Nemesi – Laura Nemesi has made a name for herself as a Art Department Assistant and Costumer on such shows as HBO’s “Sex in the City”, “Lipstick Jungle” and the upcoming drama series “Boardwalk Empire”. “I liked the very different styles chosen by the different students and differing approaches. It was nice as well to hear from students on the subject of their own education.”
Meredith Sires – Meredith Sires is the Managing Editor of Ypulse.com, an award-winning blog for youth media and marketing professionals that has been featured in several leading publications including USA Today, Business Week, Forbes and Fast Company. Previously, Meredith worked as an associate at a New York-based book publishing consulting firm where she worked with a range of clients from traditional publishing houses to transmedia studios. It was there that she began researching the media habits of teens and tweens and the potential for extending the reading experience online. “I loved how all [of these films] do something completely different with their storytelling. Although there were different degrees of success with using both elements to show and tell a story at the same time, it seems like it allowed each to take their films to a fun, new place.”
Raynor Herrera – With his Freeform Music Video, Wake Up, Raynor Herrera of Miami Coral Park Senior High, Miami, Florida claimed the Young Minds Digital Times Grand Prize in 2008. Herrera utilized stop-motion filmmaking to create his intriguing visuals which made the other judges stand up and take attention. “Being the grand prize winner for the competition last year and a young filmmaker myself I can definitely say that I am very impressed by the amount of talent and work that all these videos displayed. It’s amazing how in its second year this competition has blown up to include so many talented kids from so many schools. I wish them all good luck!”
We all wish every student the best of luck in the competition, and are eager to see the results. Thanks to our many judges, some of which are highlighted above, more creative opportunities are opening up for our youth. Thank you judges!