Mass Comm Students to Receive Florida Choice Award

TAMPA, Fla. (Nov. 3, 2009) – Winning awards is something University of South Florida mass communications professor Kristin Arnold Ruyle would like to become a habit for the students in her production classes.  When class project The Tempo of Tampa Bay is presented its Florida Choice Award at the 2009 Independents’ Film Festival’s Nov. 14 awards ceremony, it will join a growing list. Her electronic field production students’ film An Ale of a Tale won this year’s 16th Annual Communicator Award of Excellence as well as a Telly Award, the first time students at USF have won the coveted award from The Silver Council, and her students who produced an episode of “Talk of the Town,” a news program on WUSF, won the Communicator’s Award of Distinction. In addition, USF student Sarah Wilson’s film Rhapsody won this year’s “Best Picture” at the world’s largest student film festival, Campus MovieFest in Hollywood, Calif. 


“In each case, our students won out over very tough competition from very prominent film programs as well as professionals in the case of the Telly Award and the IFF award,” Ruyle said. “I think this says something about the rigor of our program and the quality of our students.  I like to think we’re starting a new tradition in the School of Mass Communications.”


Florida Choice Award judges scored the IFF official selections on their technical, production and artistic value, as well as overall creativity. The awards go to Florida filmmakers who demonstrate exceptional merit.  According to the organization’s Web site, The Tempo of Tampa Bay was chosen because it is, “A great little film with lots of good interviews, solid research, and, of course, the music.”  It will be shown at a screening Nov. 5 at 7:30 p.m. at The Education Channel’s studios in Tampa (703 N. Willow Avenue). All of the IFF official selections will be televised on The Education Channel in Hillsborough County, during November and December. 


“This film is quite wonderful,” said Ruyle.  “I learned a lot about what a vibrant jazz scene has existed in St. Petersburg and throughout Tampa Bay.  My students provided a great history lesson with tremendous creativity.  Coming out on top in an important competition like this one is terrific for our students because it gives them a leg up as they go out into the world to find work in this very competitive field.” 


To get the film made, teams produced separate segments and at the end put the separate pieces together. One member of the production team, videographer/editor Sean Brown, found the experience unforgettable. 


“Producing our film was hard work, but it is also one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. Not only because of the award, but also seeing something progress from ideas in a notebook to a final product is something I'll never forget,” he said. “My classmates and I suffered through some very late nights to make our deadline, but those nights forged some very strong friendships and I think that is what I will remember most about making the film. I'm extremely proud of what my classmates and I accomplished.” 


Ruyle’s students have shown their talent in news production as well.  Her Advanced Producing and Directing course meets at WUSF Channel 16 studios. The students pitch ideas to WUSF’s staff, a topic is approved and the students oversee the program from conception through to post production. 


“Basically, they research the program, book the guests, write the script, shoot and edit the roll ins, direct the show, oversee the studio functions, take the show into post and  then a final screening with the station to see if it makes air,” Ruyle said. “The show that won was on the Gardasil debate.” 


A selection of films in the Independents’ Film Festival will be screened in a number of community events from November 5 – 14, 2009. The list of those films is posted on the festival’s Web site: The awards ceremony will be held on Saturday, Nov. 14, followed by a wrap party.  All events are being held at The Education Channel’s studios. Seating is limited.


The University of South Florida System is one of the nation's top 63 public research universities and one of 39 community-engaged, four-year public universities as designated by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. USF was awarded $380.4 million in research contracts and grants in FY 2008/2009. The system offers 232 degree programs at the undergraduate, graduate, specialist and doctoral levels, including the doctor of medicine. It has a $1.8 billion annual budget, an annual economic impact of $3.2 billion, and serves more than 47,000 students on institutions/campuses in Tampa, St. Petersburg, Sarasota-Manatee and Lakeland. USF is a member of the Big East Athletic Conference.