29 January 2019
The Communication Department’s “The Bluffs” won its first silver honor and “The Investment,” a production between faculty and alumni, won the people’s award in the 39th Annual Telly Awards.
According to their website, the Telly Awards was founded in 1979 to honor excellence in local, regional and cable television commercials with non-broadcast video and television programming added soon after. Receiving over 12,000 entries each year, the Telly Awards is judged by an industry experienced group of about 200 people collectively known as the Telly Awards Judging Council.
There are multiple categories productions can be nominated for such as branded content, commercials and marketing, local, non-broadcast and series and shows.
All entries are assessed on content or quality of message, production and execution and overall experience. Based on that criteria, productions can either win no award, bronze, silver or gold.
The third season of “The Bluffs” earned the silver award in the Online, General Student category. The show beat out competing productions from schools like Emerson College, George Mason University and West Texas A&M University. The show also won a 2016 Heartland Chapter Emmy Award in its first season.
Students in the Communication Department’s digital filmmaking track and the Visual and Performing Arts (VAPA) department’s music and theater programs produce the episodes. David Nelson, chair and professor of the Communication Department, served as executive producer.
“‘The Bluffs’ is something I wanted to do as a student series for a long time, but we had to get the resources to be able to do it,” said Nelson. “As our program and digital filmmaking grew, both in terms of students and top-notch faculty, we reached the point where we could do something like this. It’s a pretty big undertaking.”
The process to create “The Bluffs” is a long and effortful one. To make the Telly Award winning season, many students, alumni and faculty members worked for months to perfect the production.
“The episodes are written in the spring semester. They’re shot in the fall with a different class and then that is edited the following spring by another class. It’s a year long project,” explained Nelson.
Each season of “The Bluffs” has a different story with a different set of characters and actors. The only element that ties each season together is that the plots revolve around students at UCCS.
The silver winning third season of the three-part TV series focuses on a girl’s search for her biological parents and her journey with three friends to find them.
“The Investment” won a silver People’s Telly in the non-broadcast category. Mat Alvarado, a lecturer in the Communication department and 2014 graduate, directed the short film about two students who clash over a botched investment opportunity. Nelson also served as producer and the cast featured alumni of the Communication Department and VAPA theater program.
“Mat Alvarado wrote and directed it. The production is four minutes long and is, impressively, all one continuous shot. I don’t think people understand how hard it is to do something like that,” said Nelson. “In a film like that, all the actors have to hit their marks and not miss a line. I think they did [the production] in only four takes.”
“The Investment” is a single, smooth shot that starts at Columbine Hall and ends at Kraemer Family Library.
Developed, filmed and acted in by current students at the time of production, students worked together in classes, learning filmmaking and storytelling techniques among other skills. Students also worked on special effects, cutting the opening together, credits and titles, music, sound effects, etc.
“There’s a lot of work that goes into these productions. It’s very well done. I wish everyone on campus would watch,” said Nelson.
Students interested in watching these award-winning productions can view them on YouTube.