XU DIFT students win five awards

Awards of Excellence go to students via the Broadcast Education Association

By Briana Dunn, Staff Writer

Lights, camera, action! Xavier Digital Innovation, Film and Television (DIFT) students won five Awards of Excellence across four categories at the 2023 Broadcast Education Association (BEA) Festival of Media Arts.

The BEA is a premiere international media organization that focuses on insights and excellence in media production and career advancement for educators, students and professionals. The organization currently has more than 2,500 individual and institutional members worldwide.

The BEA Festival of Media Arts is a national competition and receives submissions from schools across the country. Professor Blis DeVault commented on the stature of the competition, citing the recognition it gives to student works.

“It’s great for the program for people you know, to see what we’re doing,” DeVault said. “And you know, it’s really great for the students to be able to have something like that to put on their resume.”

Kyle Howland, a teaching professor in the DIFT program, reflected on his response to hearing the results.

“I was really excited for our students. The students work really, really hard,” Howland said. “I think that when you compete nationally against major schools that maybe have more funding than other schools do, to see results, regardless of those outside circumstances, it’s really great.”

Alex Peters and Dylan O’Leary won an Award of Excellence for Animation/Experimental/Mixed Category for their film “The Clock Room.” In the Narrative Category, Jacob Smith and Trevor Wray won an Award of Excellence for their Film “My Hero Resolved.”

Photo courtesy of Xavier University’s DIFT Program via Facebook

Pictured are two Xavier University DIFT major seniors filming their senior screening films. Pictured are seniors Kyler Akers and Courtnie Sprouse.

Wray described his emotions at being awarded on the national scale.

“I don’t think it’s fully hit me yet to be honest,” Wray said. “It’s like, ‘Okay, sweet. We won another award. When are we hearing back from the next one?’”

Smith and Wray, 2022 graduates of Xavier’s DIFT program, recalled the amount of creative freedom they had.

“I don’t think we could’ve done this film anywhere else besides Xavier,” Smith noted. “The DIFT program and Blis DeVault gave us a lot of great freedom in creating our story and gave us all the proper tools.”

In the scriptwriting competition, DIFT students Alexa Kreuzer and Mayne Swift won Awards of Excellence in the Mini-Episodic/Webisode Category for their scripts for “Wake Up!” and “Of Late Nights and Waffles,” respectively. 

Nick Namyar won in the scriptwriting competition in the Short Narrative Film Category for “The Persian Carpet.”

Swift, a junior DIFT major, reminisced on their script and the importance of the topics they covered.

“It’s really cool, because the script in it of itself ended up meaning a lot to me. It’s a queer romance that’s not centered around coming out or the fear of being seen as queer,” Swift said. “It’s simply about queer joy and love, and so having it recognized nationally is really cool, because that’s my whole goal… to eventually make movies for queer people.”

Swift also reflected on the opportunity to showcase their work on the national level.

“It feels empowering… because now I know that I can go toe to toe and have some creative liberties and that the work I do is good enough to continue to do that,” Swift mentioned.

Namyar, a junior DIFT and graphic design double major, also reflected on the importance of his script, noting his culture as his inspiration.

“I think that this script that I wrote, it’s personal to my culture, my dad’s culture. And it’s a very relevant current issue that it tackles,” Namyar noted. 

“Through the process of doing this it made me feel more connected to my dad and my culture,” he added.

Thinking of the awards’ impact on the DIFT program, DeVault commented on their student-based focus.

“Any other stuff that comes out of it is just extra. We’re not doing it to prove any kind of point. We’re doing it for the students,” DeVault said. “We’re hoping to show the students the value of their work,” she added.