Student medals in National Fine Arts Fest

Shown Here is Tyler Slawson with a medal he was awarded for a Short Film he made

Tyler Slawson shows off the medal he earned for the work done on his group’s entry in the National Fine Arts Festival, a short film in the faith-based film contest.

Tyler Slawson, a sophomore at SE, recently won first place at a national faith-based film contest.

Slawson was part of team of local teens who entered a 4 ½-minute film in the National Fine Arts Festival, which is hosted by the International Pentecostal Holiness Church.

After placing first at the conference level in March, Slawson and his team advanced to the national competition, part of the 2010 Youth Quest conference held July 20-22 in Orlando, Fla.

According to the IPHC website, approximately 500 teens from across the U.S. participate in the festival each year, competing in categories ranging from vocal and instrumental performance to dance, mime, speech and creative writing.

Since winning the competition in July, Slawson said he has been offered scholarships to two other colleges, but he decided to stay at Southeastern.

“Southeastern’s just a great university,” he said, “and of course it’s got a really nice communication department which helps.”

The video was a group project with three other youth members of his church, Abundant Life Temple in Durant.

Their film “Relentless,” which is available on YouTube, is about a young woman who has been healed of cancer.

The theme of the conference was “Relentless,” and Slawson said his group’s film illustrated this theme. “She was being relentless toward God,” he explained.

Although other team members had some input into the plot, Slawson said the rest of the group mostly handled the technical side of the film.

“Overall, the idea was mine,” he said, adding that he got the idea after hearing a news story about a woman who had cancer.

“My grandparents have had cancer, so it was kind of an interesting topic for me to have done,” he said.

Slawson estimated that the film took his group approximately eight hours to produce, but he pointed out that not all of that time was actually spent filming but “in filming mode.”

“It turned out to be a really good short film in my opinion,” he said.

Slawson also entered the competition in 2009, and his group that year won first place at the conference level but not at nationals.

According to Slawson, he learned a lot from that experience. He said the judges seemed to want more special effects and more drama than comedy, and this first film was funny.

“I laugh at it,” he said, “or I guess I laugh with it.”

Unfortunately, Slawson will not be able to enter the competition again in 2011.

“I’m ineligible on two charges,” he said, explaining that he will turn 20 before the festival, and the cutoff age is 19. Furthermore, he added, winners of the previous year are not allowed to enter the same category.

Although he is ineligible to compete in this competition again, Slawson said he isn’t done with filmmaking.

Slawson, who is double-majoring in English with a writing emphasis and communication, said he is considering a career in film.

“I’ve always been fascinated with the art of making film,” he said, adding that he used to want to be actor. More recently, though, his interest has turned to filmmaking.

In fact, Slawson said he completed his first major screenplay this summer, which consists of 152 pages. He is currently talking with an attorney about getting it copyrighted.

Slawson said he is also planning to attend the San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival in October.

“I’m really expecting a lot of amazing things to happen there,” he said.

But Slawson isn’t ready to commit to a particular career path, adding that he is also contemplating law school.

“I’m really waiting on God and what God presents to me after graduating,” he said.

Photo by David Reagan