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BYU students in running for 42nd College Television Awards

By Sarah Hunt - | Mar 23, 2023
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The College Television Awards will take place April 1 at the Television Academy in North Hollywood, California.
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A family of axolotls hugs after being reunited in the short film "Cenote."
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Daniel Villanueva Avalos, director and writer of "Cenote."
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Characters in the commercial "Made to Last."
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A still frame from the commercial "Ebay - Dear Vanessa."
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Madi Hill, producer of the commercial "Ebay - Dear Vanessa."
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A still frame from the short film "Maggie on Stratford Ave".
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Albert James May, director of "Maggie on Stratford Ave."
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Marcus Weatherred, producer of of "Maggie on Stratford Ave."

The Television Academy Foundation has nominated 13 Brigham Young University students for the 42nd College Television Awards, the most nominations received by any university.

Students received all three nominations in the Commercial, PSA or Promo category for “Ebay – Dear Vanessa,” “Made to Last” and “Play Your Way – Dungeons & Dragons,” one in the Drama Series category for the short film “Maggie on Stratford Ave.” and one in the Animation Series category for “Cenote.” Nominations were picked from 132 submissions sent in by universities across the nation.

“It’s absolutely incredible to see BYU being so well represented at a national level. I am super proud of our students, their focus and dedication,” said Kelly Loosli, animation professor and director of BYU’s Center for Animation. “We have won a number of these awards and I have heard other faculty say that it must not be that hard because we have won so many … but a national championship is still a national championship and if we keep winning that is just a reflection of how truly great BYU students are.”

“Cenote” — co-directed by Samantha Barroso, co-directed and written by Daniel Villanueva Avalos and produced by Andrew Pettit — is a short animated film about an axolotl named Axel who is trapped in a cenote, or underwater sinkhole, by ancient magic and receives aid from a human named Memo to bring him back to his family.

“I was born and raised in Oaxaca, Mexico. I remembered my family trips touring the Yucatan Peninsula and imagined how cool it would be to dive deep into a cenote like the ones I had seen. What crazy things could you find down there? … That’s where I got the location and one of the characters for the film from,” Avalos said. “I think the first thing that I feel is admiration toward the CENOTE team … for their talent …  (and) hard work for months on end. I also feel grateful that friends and professors from the animation program gave this story about an axolotl in a cenote a chance.”

“Made to Last,” directed and produced by Luke Roberts and written by Hailey Skinner, compares today’s dating pool to straws, describing first and only dates as plastic, one-use straws and long-term partners as dependable GoSili straws.

“Maggie on Stratford Ave,” directed and written by  Albert James May and produced by Marcus Weatherred, is about a woman who has chronic pain, causing a personal faith crisis. She takes her mom’s prescription painkillers in an attempt to deal with her issues. But when her mother passes away, she has to find a new supplier for her addiction.

“The script was written and directed by my partner on the project, James May. He drew inspiration from experiences of family members involved in fighting addiction and I provided him feedback on story changes guided by my own similar experiences,” Weatherred said. “Being nominated for this award is an incredible honor. As a filmmaker, you want your film to be seen by as many people as possible, and we’re thankful to everyone who has taken the time to watch. Being nominated speaks to the talent and hard work of the dozens of people who contributed to the film. While only so many people can go to the awards, in my eyes the work of every single crew member is being recognized.”

“Play Your Way – Dungeons & Dragons” was directed by Taylor Garrett, written by Stephanie Blackham and produced by Savannah Butler and Alex McBride. The commercial is about a tired traveler who shares the story of rejoining his group after a dangerous expedition involving guarded mountains. It shares the theme of how gamers can escape their everyday responsibilities and create their own destiny.

“Ebay – Dear Vanessa” was inspired by the experience of director and writer Andrew Rhee’s parents, who immigrated to the United States. The commercial shows an elderly immigrant purchasing a second-hand VHS tape player, which he uses to play old family tapes. He writes a thank you letter to the seller for helping him relive memories of coming to America and raising his children here.

“What I love about this project is that it is real and raw, and resonates with the experience of so many people,” said producer Madi Hill. “I truly believe that is the best type of work, and I’m so glad this was a story we were able to tell.”

The College Television Awards will take place April 1 at the Television Academy in North Hollywood, California. The show will be livestreamed at 7 p.m. MDT and can be viewed at https://www.emmys.com/foundation/programs/cta.


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