DIFT awards

By Griffin Brammer, Newswire Live Show Manager

Two Xavier alumni have been nominated for a California-based film award for their senior documentary.

Fausto Scricca and Michael Culkin are 2021 graduates with degrees in Digital Innovation, Film and Technology (DIFT). Their film, “Got Nic?” received a nomination in the Documentary, Short or Feature category for the ETHOS Awards. 

The ETHOS Awards are a Los Angeles and Santa Monica-based film festival and award ceremony created by filmmaker Annabelle Munro. 

“The awards show has been running for four years and is run by Hollywood industry professionals,” Culkin explained. 

“(Awards) are not exclusively given to student films,” Culkin continued. “There is definitely some international competition, but I am not sure just how many films we are up against.” 

The one requirement for submission is that each film must make a creative statement on a social issue. 

“If you have a social impact message film, be it subtle or straightforward, we want to see it,” the ETHOS website states. 

“Got Nic?” centers around the story of Culkin’s brother, Rory, and his history with e-cigarette use. 

Photo courtesy of brookdalerecovery.org
Two Xavier alumni used their Digital Innovation, Film and Television (DIFT) senior film to warn audiences about vaping in their project, “Got Nic?”

“The inspiration came from my brother’s hospitalization due to vaping,” Culkin said. Culkin’s brother developed pneumonia at the age of 18 due to excessive vaping. 

“Michael and I wanted to use our skills we learned from DIFT to make a difference in the world,” Scricca stated. “If a single vaper watched our documentary and then thought twice about vaping again, we’d consider that a success.” 

The film opens with interviews from former e-cig users, including Culkin’s brother, and mainly focuses on Culkin’s brother and parents explaining Rory’s trauma, hospitalization and recovery. 

“Of course Rory was on board with the idea,” Scricca said. “Rory wanted to use his experience to warn kids that vaping is never worth risking your life.” 

Scricca and Culkin noted that the project took them both one full school year to finish. One semester was dedicated to pre-production and filming, while the second was focused on editing and post-production. 

Scricca stated that the second semester was a particularly stressful process. 

“It cut into our social life quite a bit,” he said. “Looking back, it was well worth the time put in, and we’re both very happy with how it came out.” 

Both Scricca and Culkin were initially worried about entering their film into the awards. 

“We submitted (our film) to five festivals in October of 2021,” Scricca explained. “We didn’t know we were accepted into the ETHOS film festival until more than a year after we applied,” Culkin added.

“It’s difficult to remain hopeful when your film has been reviewed for almost a year with no response, but I’d say it’s worked out pretty good so far,” Scricca said. 

Since producing their film, both continue to work in the media industry. Scricca works in Stanford, Connecticut as a mastering technician, editing movies for in-flight entertainment to meet certain countries’ censorship guidelines for airlines. Culkin is a videographer and audio-visual technician for hearings on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. 

Culkin’s end goal is to transition from politics to sports and work with live broadcasting. Meanwhile, Scricca hopes to work for a major movie or sports media company doing post- production, citing his love for editing. 

“A man can dream,” Scricca added. 

Scricca is hopeful that the award nomination will broaden their career paths. 

“I’m hoping that future employers will be able to see this accomplishment as a reflection of what I can bring to the table,” he stated. 

The duo is also excited to meet and connect with fellow filmmakers. 

“The film festival will be a fantastic opportunity to network with other documentarians,” Scricca said. 

“I’m very excited to get to LA and make connections with other professionals in the AV world,” Culkin added. 

Along with Culkin’s family, the two praise Xavier’s DIFT program for their success. 

“Huge shoutout to Blis DeVault, Kyle Howland, Jon Nicolas and Kimheart Moeung for their mentoring and pulling all the strings,” Scricca exclaimed. 

Scricca stated that “Got Nic?” is still under review for other film festivals and is not currently available to the public. 

Nominees for the ETHOS awards will find out results during a digital screening on Nov. 7. The ETHOS Awards ceremony will be held Nov. 10-13 in Los Angeles.