Department News (2-23-15)

IMG_0213Christian Jensen and his wife, Laneé, at the 2015 Oscars. Christian’s film White Earth was nominated in the Short Doc category.


Congratulations to our very own Haley Flanders, who participated in the College of Fine Arts and Communications 3MT competition last week.  She competed against 15 other CFAC Master’s students and was awarded FIRST PLACE.  Haley received $300 for her win and will now move on to the University competition on 5 March at 11:00 am in Varsity Theatre. Everyone is invited to come and support her at the university competition.



Single Wide, a new country/rock musical written by BYU professor, George D. Nelsonand Jordan Kamalu, an undergraduate student in the Commercial Music program, has been selected as a Next Link Production to be performed off-Broadway in the 2015 New York Musical Theatre Festival (NYMF) this summer. George recently learned that Jeff Whiting will be the director of this production. NYMF is the largest annual musical theatre festival in America and serves as an equivalent to the Sundance Film Festival for the musical theatre world. Single Wide was selected from hundreds of submissions from all over the world through a double blind evaluation process. After being accepted as a finalists, it was reviewed by a Grand Jury composed of leading musical theatre artists and awarded one of ten production spots in the 2015 Festival. During the summer festival, close to a thousand artists come together to mount the new musicals. These writers, directors, actors, producers, choreographers, and designers from all stages of their careers work together to take creative risks, hone their crafts, and expand their horizons. Now in its 13th year, the NYMF Festival has launched over 29 plays to runs on and off-Broadway. The most notable of those are:  Next to Normal, title of show, Chaplin, Altar Boys, Clinton: The Musical, Fat Camp, Gutenberg! The Musical!, and My Vaudeville Man. Single Wide was written as a joint student/faculty project. It was first produced as a MDT workshop production in March of 2014 with a grant funded by the Laycock Center.

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The MDT Program celebrated 30 years with performances from students and alumni in the Broadway Revue this past weekend.  Several highlights included a Les Miz medley withBrian Clark, Christeena Michelle Riggs, Dallyn Bayles, and Mindy Smoot Robbins,all of whom had played parts in the touring show productions.   MDT alum Ross Boothe(Randy’s son) even composed a number, “Take Me Back to MDT,” sung by his wife,Michelle Boothe, Laurel Lowe, and Kami Threlfall Vermillion. Preston Yatesperformed a number from The Phantom of the Opera.  There were even selections fromWicked, sung by Christeena Riggs and Shayla Beck.  The program included a warm tribute to Lisa Stoddard, an adjunct faculty member who passed away unexpectedly last April.  After the performance, alums and students met over in the WSC for a light meal and time to catch up with each other.   Hats off to our MDT faculty, Randy Boothe, Tim Threlfall and Gayle Lockwood for the many students they have fostered over the years and the competitive and respected program they have created.
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Peace Officer, Brad Barber’s feature documentary film has been selected to premiere at the 2015 South by Southwest Film Festival in Austin, Texas.  Widely regarded as one of the top venues for independent film in the United States next to Sundance, South by Southwest chose Peace Officer as one of just 10 documentaries out of 1018 entries to premiere in competition.  Brad directed, produced, and shot the film together with TMA alumnus Scott Christopherson, who teaches documentary film at St. Edward’s University in Austin.  Filmed primarily in Northern Utah between 2012 and 2014, Brad and Scott mentored several TMA students and recent graduates (Jared Jakins, Kelyn Ikegami, Jeff Morain, Nate Christofferson, Josh Gibson, Josh Weathers) in production and post-production roles.  Submarine Entertainment will be representing the film as they seek distribution, and Scott and Brad are currently raising finishing funds through Kickstarter, where the project was chosen as a “staff pick,” in preparation for the festival in March.  The trailer is viewable on the film’s website.  Synopsis: Peace Officer is a feature documentary about the increasingly militarized state of American police as told through the story of William “Dub” Lawrence, a former sheriff who established and trained his rural state’s first SWAT team only to see that same unit kill his son-in-law in a controversial standoff 30 years later.  Driven by an obsessed sense of mission, Dub uses his own investigative skills to uncover the truth in this and other recent officer-involved shootings in his community while tackling larger questions about the changing face of peace officers nationwide. 

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