Student filmmakers get star treatment

Narrative category finalists (from left) Bennett Lasseter, bronze medal winner for “Stealth”; Henry Hughes, gold medal winner for “Day One”; and Jeremy Cloe silver medal winner for “This Way Up” attend the 42nd Student Academy Awards Ceremony in Los Angeles.

BEVERLY — After a week of studio visits, fancy dinners and Hollywood meetings, the winners of the 42nd Student Academy Awards finally got their chance to thank the academy.

Fifteen young filmmakers spent a week in Los Angeles as the film academy’s guests before receiving their awards at a ceremony Thursday night.

“Of course, I would like to thank the academy. I’ve always wanted to say that,” Chapman University student Daniel Drummond said as he accepted his prize. “I could be up here all night and still wouldn’t be able to convey how much this means to me.”

Members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences chose the 14 winning student films from 1,686 submissions — triple last year’s entries, said academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs. Winners were recognized with gold, silver or bronze medals in five categories: animation, documentary, narrative, foreign and alternative.

“The whole week’s been amazing,” said Jeremy Cloe, 28, competing in the narrative category. “But being here tonight is the big event and the most exciting.”

Spending a week as Student Academy Award winner has been “surreal,” said documentarian Emily Kassie, 22.

“One of the most exciting parts is getting to meet our peers and being among this very high caliber talented group of filmmakers,” the Brown University student said. “I think we were all blown away when we saw each other’s films.”

Besides providing professional community, winning a Student Academy Award bodes well for a filmmaker’s future. Past winners — a list that includes Spike Lee, Trey Parker, Robert Zemeckis and John Lasseter — have gone on to receive 47 Oscar nominations and eight statuettes.

Lasseter said winning the student awards in 1979 and ‘80 while studying at California Institute of the Arts was validating and inspiring.

He served as a presenter at Thursday’s ceremony, where his 26-year-old son, Bennett, was among the winners.

Even more important than winning awards, though, is continuing to create, said Dustin Loose of Berlin, who took silver in the foreign film category.