Winners announced at closing ceremony of Spotlight music and filmmaking competition

Wednesday, January 18, 2017 - 8:48pm

Celebrating the art of student music and film, 50 students and faculty attended the first Spotlight music and filmmaking competition closing ceremony Wednesday night at Stamps Auditorium. Sponsored by MPowered, a student entrepreneurship organization on campus, awards were given to teams of up to four producers for their projects.

The 50-hour competition featured student works from every school at the University of Michigan. Participants filmed all footage on smartphones, and winners of the competition were awarded Cakewalk's Sonar Platinum audio software.

The two winning projects will be shown Thursday night at the competition’s showcase at Necto Nightclub featuring Quinn XCII and Ayokay.

Matthew Altruda, an Ann Arbor radio host, delivered the keynote address at the ceremony, emphasizing the importance of recognizing dreams and approaching new challenges.

Altruda relayed stories of attempting to establish himself as a promoter in the Ann Arbor music scene, including his failures and how he learned to better market himself as a music entrepreneur in the 21st century.

In his final words, Altruda said since most students at the ceremony are going to be graduating in the near future and keeping one’s vision in mind and doing what makes one happy is crucial after leaving the University.

“You’re young right now,” Altruda said. “It’s really time to start thinking about your vision and your career and your life. Earn it. Life is so short … so whatever you do, earn it. If that means drop out of school, go to Costa Rica and live on the beach for the rest of your life, if that’s gonna make you happy, then you heard it from me. You should do it.”

The first place winner for the Film category was a short film named “Roll Call” produced by students LSA junior Dylan Hancook, LSA senior Kelsey Comeau and LSA sophomore Dylan Lange. Inspired by the pedantic spiel of professors on the first day of classes taking roll, Hancook, wrote a comedic short featuring characters such as Marie Antoinette, Big Bird on his day off, a Grandfather’s urn and others on the first day of an American cultures lecture.

While filming, Hancook said he was glad he had plenty of friends willing to be extras in the project. Since the time crunch for the competition is tight, a large ground of friends gave Hancook the extra support he needed.

“My project in particular is a great example of why you need friends to make things,” he said. “I think we had about 30 different characters. It’s so important to have friends that are interested and available.”

For the Music category, the song “Have to Go (Hope You Don’t)” by SMTD senior Steven Ciasullo, LSA junior Tim Everett, SMTD senior Cedric Lee and LSA senior Jin Kim took home first place. An R&B track about friends going through similar experiences throughout their time at the University, LSA senior Sarah Shelby contributed to the songwriting on the project. Shelby said the song attempts to draw together the experiences of her and her other friends who worked on the project.

“We’re all really good friends and we were discussing different relationships and we’ve all been through a million different things in college that are similar and kind of understood this feeling of moving on and changing so much,” Shelby said. “We all were able to get into that feeling based on different experiences in the past.”

Ciasullo, who did the final mixing and mastering on the track, said Spotlight gave him the chance to spend time with his friends and create music.

“It’s really nice to have a goal to work towards,” Ciasullo said. “I was brought on to work on this fun project with my friends and that’s kind of exactly what we got out of it I think. The creative process for me is really hard individually but with other people, it was really great to feed off of their ideas.”

After its first year, participants said the competition elevate both artistic innovation and cooperation.

“It definitely promotes people who are just naturally creative and want to go out and make things, whether it’s music film or whatever,” Hancook said. “It’s really promoting Michigan students being creative and doing things in a short amount of time. You know coming into this competition that you’re going to have something by the end of the weekend which is always a really good feeling.”

Shelby said the competition’s format lends itself well to friend groups who want to create art in a short amount of time.

“I would encourage people to try and do something like this on their own having this example,” Shelby said. “You really just need two days and set time aside for what you feel like you really want to do. Have trust in your friends and be honest.”