The 9th annual RTF Media Fest was held on March 31 and April 1. - Photo via The Department of Radio, TV, Film

Wedged somewhere between the glitz and glam of the Golden Globes and the modesty of a high school talent show sits the RTF Media Fest, which took place on Friday, March 31, in Bozorth Hall. The award ceremony was preceded by a viewing of nominees’ work, accompanied by hoagie trays, snacks and drinks. The event was live-streamed for family and friends that could not make it to King Auditorium.

The beginning of the ceremony celebrated the recent news that Rowan had been named No. 10 overall by the Broadcast Education Association (BEA) in their 2023 rankings. The school’s programs were ranked first for Audio Production, sixth for Documentary Production and ninth for Film & Video Production. The Media Fest showcased the work of students on different productions that Dr. Joseph Bierman described as “the latest and greatest.”

Project submissions were broadly sorted into one of the following categories: Audio Production, Broadcast/TV, Documentary, Film and Screenwriting. These ranged in theme from dramatic sports highlights, like senior Connor Bond’s feature, “Rowan Vs. TCNJ: ‘The Impossible'” to the Tarantino-esque short story, “Quickdraw,” written by Joseph Hunt. 

Winners were decided by a jury of alumni and current industry professionals who scored and ranked each submission. There were also awards for specialized projects focusing on experimental film and comedy. A list of all the 2023 nominees and their work can be found on the RTF Media Fest website.

Radio, Television & Film faculty members Dr. Joseph Bierman, Diani Nicolae, Chris Winkler, Sean O’Leary, Jonathan Mason and Keir Politz presented the winners with trophies and certificates to commemorate their achievements.

“Into the Underground,” created by Kamerryn Westfield, won best overall audio production. “Broken Bottles” by Darien Brown, Annie Tzvetanova, Spencer Foti, Ian Arena and Daniel Cha took home the bragging rights for Best Overall Documentary. Connor Bond’s piece was voted first for the Broadcast/TV portion for his feature covering Rowan Football’s late-game win against TCNJ this fall, a comeback nicknamed “The Impossible.” “Sorry For Your Loss” by Daniel Latch, Kevin Meyers, Emily Sayles, Arron Brown, Jordan Kohler and Johnathan Shaw won Best Experimental Film. “Nothing but Meat” was selected as Best Overall in the Film category, earning Erin O’Leary a new decoration for her desk. 

The Eric Boldizar Award for Comedy Writing was presented to Kevin Zipay for his sketch “The Joke.” Three awards were presented to honor student screenwriting at the event. “Working Late” by Paige Previte won Best Short Screenplay, “King of the Dead” by Laquan Burroughs was atop the podium for Best TV Pilot and Stephen Shull’s “The Matriarch”  was honored as Best in Category. All nominated Rowan students received certificates to recognize their nominations. 

The winner of Best Narrative was “Quickdraw” by Joseph Hunt, Grace Shukaitis, Matthew Logue, Andrew Smith, Christian Johnson and Matthew Pawling. Shukaitis, a junior and an outfielder on Rowan University’s softball team, directed the winning short film. 

“Honestly, my goal was to just make it good. When I was directing, I wanted to make the film seem like you are actually there in the room with the actors,” Shukaitis said. “It meant a lot getting an award, it shows that what I put my hard work into paid off.”

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