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UWRF student receives nomination for national film festival award

April 4, 2014

A UW-River Falls student was nominated for an award from a national film organization for a music video he produced.

Sam Azazu, a digital film and television student at UWRF, and Erik Johnson, assistant professor of digital film and television, were invited to attend the National Academy of Arts and Sciences College Student Production Awards. Featured at the event was a screening of award-winning student videos and a college and career fair, Johnson said.

The red-carpet event featured news and television media from across the Midwest. It was an opportunity for students to learn more about film and network with professionals.

“This event is really fun to be a part of. It’s like a mini version of Hollywood,” Johnson said.

Azazu’s music video, which was created for the song “Medicine” by Daughter, tells the story of a young woman who has potential for success, but is addicted to pills.

He originally made the music video for a film class. It received rave reviews from classmates and over 1,500 hits on YouTube. Then he decided to submit the music video to the competition. After being reviewed by a panel of media professionals, he was nominated for the music video award.

“It was a huge success,” Azazu said.

Azazu decided to pursue a career in film because he particularly enjoys the craft, especially editing videos.

“That has been my passion lately,” Azazu said.

Besides being nominated for a national award, he is currently a film intern for Student Life and is active in several film opportunities on campus.

“He is really deserving and active in film production,” Johnson said.

Johnson has been involved with the Student Emmy Awards for the past three years as a judge and supporter of UWRF film students who have been nominated for awards. He attended the event this year to support Azazu and to represent UWRF at the career and job fair for high school and college students, which was a new addition to the event this year. The college fair was a way for the Digital Film and Television Department to recruit new students.

“This college fair will be precedent setting,” Johnson said.

The purpose of the National Academy of Arts and sciences is to promote the television industry and provide internships, scholarships and seminars for faculty. The organization is funded by donations from Hollywood filmmakers and producers.

Johnson himself participated in an all-expensive paid excursion to Hollywood, fully supported by the organization. He had the opportunity to network with famous Hollywood producers and learn more about his craft.

This year’s awards ceremony had to be moved to a larger venue at the Mall of America because of higher demand for tickets. Recipients of College Student Production Awards from UWRF have also gone on to obtain successful careers in film, Johnson said.

“Even to be considered for a final nomination is an honor,” Johnson said.

Azazu said he hopes to continue to become more involved in film and score an internship this coming summer in California. After graduation, he said he hopes to move to Hollywood and further pursue his career.

“Hopefully I make it big,” Azazu said.