Peoria Unified film, TV students nominated for awards

Film and TV students in the Peoria Unified School District have received nominations in several categories for the 2022 National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Student Production Awards.

Operated by the Emmy Awards, the organization’s Rocky Mountain Southwest Chapter has two student nominees hailing from Cactus High School, one from both Centennial and Ironwood, and nine each from Liberty and Sunrise Mountain high schools. The district’s media teachers and students expressed pride in their film and TV programs and the recognition they have received.

“I’m so excited and so proud of all my students,” Cactus High School media teacher Chris Contreras said. “I’m so proud of the work they did last year and just the improvements, since I’ve been here, year by year. I’m excited to see what jobs they get and where they go in the future.”

Two of Contreras’ students, junior Tessika Davis and sophomore Abigail Othman, highlighted the nominations as significant accomplishments for their small team. They noted teamwork as a key factor to their success.

“It’s a really great environment,” Othman said. “One of us wins, we all win. We all help each other out, so it’s not just one person working on a video. Everybody’s just flipping the switch and helping out and putting in their hands.”

The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (NATAS) promotes excellence by spotlighting high school student work in news, craft and programming categories. The National Student Production Awards acknowledges exceptional achievement in video production.

Students from Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and El Centro, California, are eligible to participate through teacher nominations. Each educator can enter up to 15 individuals.

According to Centennial High School media teacher Bryce Budoff, the Peoria district has been a trailblazer for film and TV programs in the area, with a number of its schools having developed robust programs.

“A lot of people don’t know about the film and TV program,” Contreras said. “The fact that we’re getting nominations and, hopefully, getting an award, it just showcases to everybody what good programs in film and TV are here in the district and how good they actually are.”

The Peoria Student Broadcasting Network (PSBN) provides interns or students in film or TV programs the opportunity to learn the fundamentals of working in the film and TV and broadcasting industry while working in environments with modern technology, equipment and Adobe Suite software.

PSBN’s three courses include introductory and advanced courses for film and TV, beginning with the basics of production before proceeding to producing daily live broadcasts and content for their school. The program concludes with student interns producing an array of live events, such as broadcasting sports, performing arts, commercials, magazine shows and student life entertainment.

Through PSBN, students can also expand their résumés and prepare for post-high school success by obtaining their Adobe Certified Associate Certification.

“I’ve had a number of students that come into this class not even thinking that’s what they want to do,” Contreras said. “They get into the software, they get into editing, they get into everything and then they realize this is what they want to do in life — which is a cool experience for me. It’s cool to see kids lean towards that after teaching them everything.”

Both Contreras and Budoff hope that their students walk away with the knowledge and ability to create films from the planning process through editing, putting them in the position to quickly obtain jobs.

“If they continue to love doing it, then pretty soon you’ll be making money doing something you never thought you’d ever be making, doing your dream job,” Budoff said. “This is the time everyone’s making content, so this is the time to do that.”

Winners for the 2022 National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Student Production Awards will be announced at the NATAS Rocky Mountain Southwest Chapter Awards Ceremony on Saturday, Oct. 1.