Department News (5-26-14)

TMA has connections to two films that have won Student Academy Awards, also known as Student Oscars.  The first connection is with the animated short, “Owned,” submitted by BYU’s Animation program, and with Daniel Clark and Wesley Tippetts, directors. BYU’s Center for Animation has garnered Student Emmys’ for thirteen consecutive years, and this is the fifth time the program has been represented at the Academy Awards in L.A.. The second connection is with media arts alum J. Christian Jensen, whose short documentary, “White Earth,” is in the running.  Christian’s film was made while he was earning his MFA in Documentary Film and Video at Stanford University, from which he graduated in 2013.   According to the Academy Award Website (,  “Fifteen students have been selected as winners in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ 41st Student Academy Awards® competition.  They will arrive in Los Angeles for a week of industry activities that will culminate in the awards ceremony on Saturday, June 7, at 6 p.m., at the DGA Theater in Hollywood.  The medal placements – gold, silver and bronze – in the five award categories will be announced at the ceremony.”


Two TMA faculty members will be appearing in the new T.C. Christensen full-length feature, Cokeville Miracle, which will be shooting next month.  Both Barta Heiner and Stephanie Breinholt will be in the film.  Barta plays a retired homemaking teacher, Verlene Bennion who was a teacher’s aide in the school the day of the bombing.  Stephanie will be playing the school principal.  The story revolves around the Cokeville Elementary School bombing in Wyoming that happened on May 16, 1986.  About 154 students and teachers were held hostage with a bomb in a classroom meant to hold 30 people.  The bomb accidentally exploded, but miraculously the two perpetrators were the only ones who died.  For more details about the story, go to


BYU Vocal Point and more than 85 BYU student performers and crew worked together to create a four-minute a cappella music video of the “Newsies Medley” from 7 am – 4:30 pm on  Monday, April 28. The goal of this video was to film the entire performance in one take.  Jeff Parkin produced and directed, with Media Arts alum Jared Cardon also producing.  Current Media Arts studentDavid John Banks made a behind the scenes film at the same time. Dance department faculty members Karen Jensen,and Nathan Balser oversaw the choreography with additional assistance from Kurt Holman and several student choreographers.Jeff Sheets of the Laycock Center for Creative Collaboration helped facilitate the production. A number of BYU Media arts alumni were involved, including Jacob Schwarz as the director of photography operating his RED camera and M?vi rig, recent graduate John Bills doing the camera rigging, and Babetta Kellyserving as first A.D. and associate producer.  Current media arts student Josh Contor operated the complex M?vi remote head, with many other Media Arts students behind the camera. The video also features students from three BYU performing groups including the Ballroom Dance team, Contemporary Dance Theatre, and the Folk Dancers. At one point, everyone had to perform in slow motion so that they could hook the camera up to the rigging to lift it to the second floor.  In post-production, this sequence was sped up and synced to the original music.  Vocal Point’s Artistic Director McKay Crockett arranged and recorded a new ending to the song the night before the shoot. 48 hours after its release, the video had already been viewed over 100,000 times and been written up in BuzzFeed and Mashable ( and  Below is the music video for the “Newsies Medley” as well as the “Behind the Scenes” video that explores the logistics of how the video was created.  Betcha can’t watch it just once!


BYU’s Spring Production of The Selfish Giant opens on Friday, May 30.  The play, adapted by Teresa Love from the book of the same name, and directed by Jennifer and Nat Reed, introduces the audience into a fantastical world that includes giant puppets, an ogre, people on stilts and children.  The giant is manned by six puppeteers and voiced by David Morgan.  The ogre is played by Reese Purser. The production stage manager is Carson Wright, the scenic designer is Hannah Kroff with lighting designer, Mckenzie Ottley. The costumes and makeup reflect the fantasy world. The costume designer was Marissa Pack with Dallin Blakenship and Mary Beth Bosendoing the makeup and hair design.  The set includes projections and animations done by animation students Drew Kleven and Dallin Blakenship and film student Chris WorkmanTara Haas serves as the dramaturg. Many people helped with the puppet building, including costume shop designers and the actors, who were cast in October of 2013, helped make the puppets.  To catch a glimpse of the amazing creative process, see the video below, shot and edited by film student Kelyn Ikegami and produced by Jordan Petersen. You will definitely want to invite your favorite children and join the fun!


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