SUU Will Have Presence at the Sundance Film Festival

Published: January 20, 2005 | Author: Renee Ballenger | Read Time: 3 minutes


A senior Communication major from Southern Utah University will be appearing at the Sundance Film Festival this week.

SUU and SUTV, the University’s television station, will premiere a production at the Sundance Film Festival—sort of.

SUU broadcast faculty, staff and students produced a commercial promoting the Utah Film Commission to be shown between films at the Sundance Film Festival from January 20 to 30 in Park City, and other locations around Salt Lake City, and the SUU-produced piece won the Utah Film Commission’s contest for commercials promote filmmaking in Utah. SUU’s creation was selected as one of the top eight commercials from 115 entered!

The commercial was written, directed, and videotaped by Jon Smith, Associate Communication Professor and Department Chair. SUTV Station Manager, Lee Byers, edited the commercial, and senior broadcasting students, Susannah Hicken and Jerame Tyree performed in different versions of the commercial.

The version that won featured Susannah Hicken, appearing as a young film director out scouting film locations in the Utah desert. She enthusiastically moves 360 degrees around the camera looking at different locations where parts of her film could be shot. She finishes the spot by exclaiming, “We can do it all here, we can do it all here!” Then, the slogan “It’s all here, 360 degrees” appears on the screen before the final Utah Film Commission graphic.

The various locations shown in the distance behind Hicken include the Pine Valley Mountains, the Hurricane Cliffs, Zion National Park, the town of Virgin, and other desert scenes. The commercial was shot at sunset to take advantage of the colorful light.

This accomplishment resulted in an award of $1500, a trophy, passes to the Sundance Film Festival and various Utah Film Commission memorabilia. The cash award was divided between the participants, including the SUTV facility.

Hicken represented SUU at the UFC awards ceremony held on December 10th in Salt Lake City. She says it was fun to be amongst the “big shots” in the film industry in Utah. She is also pleased to have discussed the success of SUU’s broadcasting program in relation to other film programs in the state. After one inquiry from students from other schools as to the misperception that SUU does not have a “film program,” Hicken responded by explaining how SUU students does indeed produce television and film within the Communication degree program and moreover, that undergraduates get to work one-on-one, operating equipment oftentimes in their freshman year!

Hicken definitely has an SUU Story. She had intended to transfer to another university in Utah to complete a film degree, but decided against it so she could continue with hands-on production at SUU. She was surprised and disappointed that other programs in the state were more theoretical and not as much production-oriented. Hicken plans on producing a short film in her “Television Field Production” class this spring.

Through its more than 100-year history, Southern Utah University has evolved from a teacher training school into its current role as a comprehensive, regional university to 6,000 students from across the globe. It serves the southern region of Utah and contiguous counties in surrounding states with undergraduate and graduate programs in six colleges. People of the region look to the University for outreach services, culture, economic and business development, higher learning, regional history, public affairs, major academic specialties, and significant entertainment and recreation. Accentuated by the notable, economic value of its services, SUU's hallmark is its quality staff, faculty and academics.

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