‘In a world where…’: SIUE graduates win Emmy award2011 - By Allan Lewis & William Down
Former SIUE students were honored with a Mid-American Emmy Award in October 2010 for their work on the movie trailer spoof “Academic Integrity” that includes a voiceover from voiceover great Don LaFontaine.
The trailer was created in a summer 2008 independent study class with Mass Communications professor Cory Byers. Brent Roth, Alex Trepka and Preston Gibson —dubbed the “Crafty Batch”—alongside Rebecca Mead and Kyle West won in the student production, non-news category, where they were up against two groups from the University of Arkansas.
Mead and West did not submit their names for the award.
The tension at the ceremony was quickly relieved for the group, as they learned of their accomplishment.
“We were waiting for the Emmys to start and someone in charge approached us and asked if we were the group up for the student award and they had us come backstage,” Gibson said. “She told somebody ‘This is Alex and Preston, they are the group that won the student award.’ We didn’t know if she misspoke, but we walked over to the stack of awards and ours was right there.”
While the rest of the group was at the Emmys, Roth found out the news a little differently.
“I am a video freelancer, AV technician and dairy farm operator,” Roth said. “I was actually working on the farm when Cory posted we had won on Twitter.”
“Academic Integrity” was a different type of project for Roth.
“The idea was to stray from the news prospect and create videos. I had no idea it would get from where it was to where it is now, winning an Emmy,” Roth said.
In order for “Academic Integrity” to be up for an Emmy there was a catch: it had to air on television. Byers made it happen by airing the video on the SIUE show “Global Village.”
“Cory and Alex were on the ‘Academy’ so they were the ones who submitted it. I don’t recall exactly how we were nominated, but I remember seeing the nomination list on Facebook and getting excited,” Gibson said.
While “Academic Integrity” featured cameos from a number of mass communications professors at SIUE, it also featured a man synonymous with movie trailers—the late Don LaFontaine, who died not long after work on the project was done.
The script for “Academic Integrity” was based around a recording Byers had the late voiceover artist record for him years ago, which he has played for his classes at SIUE.
“Some former students of mine from Carbondale working for Alt. News were going to be in L.A. for spring break because they had won a national student Emmy award,” Byers said. “I don’t know how they got in touch with Don, but somehow they did either through his management or publicist and worked the details out for me. I didn’t come up with the idea.”
Eventually, LaFontaine recorded the script for Byers starting with his signature “in a world” line, then adding, “where all your classes suck, one man will rise to make a difference.”
The voiceover played an important role in “Academic Integrity,” but Byers said he was unsure if it alone won the group its Emmy award.
“I didn’t have my mind set on him,” Byers said. “It’s hard to say if they would have won or not. The voiceover is definitely a big part of the video, but it is still just one part.”
Gibson said, upon hearing the LaFontaine voiceover, the group was set on using it.
“I remember Cory playing that in a couple of classes and thought it was a really goofy script,” Gibson said. “It was a no-brainer. We wanted to use it.”
Of course, the group still needed to surround LaFontaine’s recording with an effective script.
“The voiceover already tells the narrative developing, but we had to develop it further,” Gibson said. “The idea was that there was this sinister dean doing something vaguely evil, and that’s the whole underlying plot. It was sort of a tongue-in-cheek thing and just a goofy stereotypical action thriller.”
Roth said the group acted as a team sharing ideas, although each had their specific role in “Academic Integrity.”
“Kyle was our camera man, and Preston was our editing golden child,” Roth said. “I helped in pre-production, production and writing. I did the sound work as well.”
Trepka said the writing process was the most stressful part of the project.
“Kyle was not a fan of the creative writing process, he was just rambunctious,” Trepka said.
As the professor overseeing the project, Byers said he takes great pride in his student’s accomplishments.
“It was good to know the work they put into it paid off and other people appreciated it,” Byers said.
The list of those who appreciate “Academic Integrity” keeps on growing.
“Every six months or so Cory sends us an email saying, ‘Hey, we won another award,” Gibson said. “All of these awards are just icing on the cake. If you enjoy what you are doing, you’ll never work a day in your life.”