POSTED ON MAY 21, 2021 BY LONG

That’s a wrap for the 2021 Heller Awards for Young Artists (HAYAs), and might we say it was probably the coolest awards yet! We always knew this program was something special. What we never imagined, is that it would be the leader in virtual theatrical production.

With…

  • Performances featuring over 250 high school students
  • Over 20 schools presented
  • 40 students filmed at Austin’s Co-Production House using the same virtual production studio technology as The Mandalorian
  • Video compilations showcasing ALL nominees
  • 10 dynamic presenters

…and boundless amounts of heart and celebration, we could not be more proud.

A huge congratulations to all of our nominees who stayed creative, positive, and inspired through this year. And without further ado, here are your 2021 Award Recipients.

SOLO MUSICAL THEATRE
Senior Division

1ST PLACE
Cassandra Chapman ROUND ROCK

2ND PLACE
Grace Sheidow ROUND ROCK

3RD PLACE
Sareena Hampton ROUSE

SOLO MUSICAL THEATRE
Underclassmen Division

1ST PLACE
JP Lopez ROUSE

2ND PLACE
McKenlee Wilson WEISS

3RD PLACE
Scott Bratton ROUSE

GROUP MUSICAL THEATRE

1ST PLACE
The Plastics ROUND ROCK

2ND PLACE
On Our Way ROUND ROCK

3RD PLACE
Rouse Little Priest ROUSE

WILD CARD PERFORMANCE

1ST PLACE
LBJECHS Freshman Choir LBJ/LASA

2ND PLACE
Isabelle Saquing LBJ/LASA

3RD PLACE
Mackenzie Thornton VISTA RIDGE

ORIGINAL SONG

1ST PLACE
Gavin Rojas LEANDER

2ND PLACE
Augustus Cosby ST. STEPHEN’S

3RD PLACE
Jackson Urbach VISTA RIDGE

MUSICAL THEATRE INNOVATION

1ST PLACE
Lucy Sugawa LBJ/LASA

2ND PLACE
Rouse Never Know ROUSE

3RD PLACE
Rouse Girl Band ROUSE

TECHNICAL THEATRE DESIGN

1ST PLACE
Eli Patterson MARBLE FALLS

2ND PLACE
Eula Tomamao MARBLE FALLS

3RD PLACE
Taylor Gunter MARBLE FALLS

COLLEGE SCHOLARSHIPS

Abigail Bensman ROUND ROCK

Zayan Culberson LBJ Early College

Taylor Fambrough WESTLAKE

Grayson Gower ROUSE

Ashlen Herrin VISTA RIDGE

Ally McSorley LEANDER

Alisha Morejon LASA

Adam Romer LEANDER

Mackenzie Thornton VISTA RIDGE

SCHOOL GRANTS

CROCKETT

HAYS

LASA

LEHMAN

NYOS

REWATCH THE SHOW

That’s a wrap folks! Show your support for arts education by following @hellerawardsatx on your social media platform of choice, or take it one step further and make a donation to the Heller Awards for Young Artists today.

POSTED ON MAY 17, 2021 BY LONG

What happens when the show can’t go on? You create a virtual production, of course! This Mid-Week Intermission comes from friend Justin Kirchhoff who’s changing the virtual game as Co-Founder & CEO of Co-Production House. He and his team have been hard at work with the Heller Awards for Young Artists, making sure the show really can go on with their LED volume technology. Don’t know what that is? Read on and find out!

Hi there, I’m Justin Kirchhoff

Co-Founder & CEO of Co-Production House, a virtual production studio with Austin’s first LED volume technology.

The team at CPH includes my business partners, Kristina Smith (Co-Founder and President) and Keller Davis (Co-Owner), our Community Manager Alava Sim, and Kyle Kirchhoff, who rounds out the technical side of our team while also managing our studio. We are excited to be leading Austin’s film, commercial, and business markets into the world of virtual production and love the chance of explaining exactly what it is that we do.

We often get asked, “What is virtual production? What is a LED volume?” Our virtual production capabilities include producing media “virtually,” within the confines of a digital program, and projecting digital environments in a real physical world using our LED volume. An LED volume is quite literally a digital backdrop, not far off from how movies from the 1920s-1960s often used rear projection to showcase actors driving in a car, moving on a train, or even on the 100th floor of a skyscraper.

When the Long Center had announced they wouldn’t be hosting shows in Dell Hall just yet, Ginger Morris of the Heller Awards for Young Artists immediately came to us and asked what we were capable of in order to showcase these young performers doing what they do best. We quickly started putting the pieces together over the course of two and a half weeks, finding digital environments to help sell the idea these young performers were in location that could otherwise be difficult or expensive to produce.

We integrated our VOLUME stage, which includes a 20’x10′ LED wall, consisting of multiple panels, immersing the talent in the virtual environment. With the VOLUME you can produce content all over the world and more, in a single day. The HAYAs asked for over 25 environments in 4 production days, which is unheard of for a film production shoot. Normally, you would have to move your entire cast and crew to each location, which costs a lot of time and money, where the advantage of using our LED Volume allowed us to change locations in a few clicks of a button. It allowed us to focus on performances rather than the disturbances that come with shooting in uncontrolled locations.

The HAYA project was a fantastic experience for our team and also for the young performers. They were excited to be there, immersed in the world their characters lived in. There is always a tremendous payoff when a production is over. We saw the kids get so excited when they looked at our studio monitor. They instantly realized that the digital world behind them truly helped motivate their characters’ actions.

We were incredibly lucky to take part in this year’s Heller Awards for Young Artists. The opportunity to pull off this production in such a short amount of time really set in stone the capabilities of virtual production here at CPH.

We created CPH as a place where professionals can work and grow their businesses through collaboration with the added benefits of creative support, business development, and networking events designed to improve the growth of the creative film and media professionals in Austin, Texas.

We host monthly creative events, which include music from a local band or musician, an artist that showcases the work they’ve been producing, and a learning moment where we show a demonstration of virtual production practices in an everyday production environment.

We take each production that uses our services and provide them the best experience available. Teaming up with the HAYAs has been a grand experience, and we are looking forward to tuning into the livestream of the Awards on May 23rd. See you all then!

Sincerely,
Justin Kirchhoff
Co-Founder/CEO of Co-Production House

Countdown to the 8th Annual Heller Awards for Young Artists with us, streaming on YouTube Sunday night, May 23rd, at 7:30pm. This is one for the books, folks!

POSTED ON MAY 13, 2021 BY LONG

We think it’s safe to say that this past year has been unlike any other… but Austin’s students, teachers, and arts education programs have persevered! When we started the Heller Awards for Young Artists in 2013 (you know, way back in the GAHSMTA days) our goal was always arts education and community building over competition. What we never imagined, is that it would be the leader in virtual theatrical production.

Now that we’re coming up on the 8th Annual HAYA Awards Ceremony — don’t forget to tune in Sunday night at 7:30pm and cheer on our 2021 Nominees — we thought it was time to make sure everyone knew what this program was all about plus what has made this year so special, above it all.

The 2021 Awards Ceremony is unbelievable, to say the least — with performances featuring over 250 high school students, 40 students filmed at Austin’s Co-Production House using the same virtual production studio technology as The Mandalorian, and boundless amounts of heart and celebration — here’s a little rundown on what you might have missed this year.

So, what are the Heller Awards for Young Artists?

Each year, this program works with 30+ high schools and 4,500+ students from across Central Texas to provide resources and key support systems for musical theatre programs including professional training, mentorship, master classes, performance opportunities, and industry networking.

Culminating in a sold-out annual Awards Ceremony with uproarious cheers and lots of happy tears, these students have the opportunity to come together to perform at the Long Center, learn from one another’s experience, grow their artistic abilities, and build lasting connections.

Although this school year has been more than challenging, our commitment to arts education has not changed. Because the show must go on, and so the HAYAs made it so!

Theatre for the Digital World

Creativity was our priority this year, and to make sure students could continue to create, develop their own creativity, and feel inspired, we completely transformed the HAYAs for 2021. This mean forgoing the usual school-to-school competition that highlighted full-scale musical productions, and shifting our focus to digital theatre that could be created in any learning environment. And we heard it made quite the impact

THIS INCLUDED
Providing 12 online workshops in digital theatre production
Creating 7 new digital award categories
Expanding the competition for original content creation and digital entries

Plus, our Education team has made some pretty cool digital productions along the way, like this opening number from the 2021 Nominations Event featuring our Select Ensemble.

We hope you’ll tune in with us and support this incredible program. We’re pretty sure Sunday night’s Awards Ceremony will be the most unique piece of digital filmmaking you’ve ever seen. Show your support for arts education by following @hellerawardsatx on your social media platform of choice, or take it one step further and make a donation to the Heller Awards for Young Artists today. The future of arts education is here, and you can make sure it continues.

POSTED ON MAY 4, 2021 BY LONG

We always love featuring our friends at Austin Asian American Film Festival, but this month we had a special excuse… Dive into Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month with Ray Loyd, AAAFF Aritstic Director, as he shares in this Mid-Week Intermission what the 13th annual fest is up to, other local fests you’ll want to check out, and his list of AAPI film recommendations you’re gonna want to marathon.

 

Hey! My name’s Ray.

I’m the Artistic Director of the Austin Asian American Film Festival (AAAFF), so I head up Creative and Marketing Operations for the fest. We’re a nonprofit organization with a small, passionate staff, an amazing group of volunteers, and a supportive board of directors. Our mission is to champion Asian and AAPI cinema by bringing it to the Austin community.

Before I was on staff, I attended an AAAFF screening of WHO KILLED VINCENT CHIN? as an audience member 4 years ago and was instantly inspired by the team and what they were doing. Soon after, I joined the programming team and eventually moved into my current role where I get to dive into design, video, content, and marketing strategy. Outside of the fest, I’m also a Video Producer at Alamo Drafthouse where I’ve gained a lot of my recent experience. It’s really a privilege to be able to say that celebrating movies is the core of my professional life these days.

This year, the 13th annual Austin Asian American Film Festival is a hybrid fest happening from June 4th to the 20th. Of course, we’re disappointed that it isn’t our typical in-person experience, but excited about the opportunities that a virtual festival can offer (example: all of Texas can access our films straight from their home!). But don’t worry, once we’re able to plan in-theater events again, we will (shout out to our usual home, AFS Cinema). As for the other part of the fest this June? We’ll be hosting a few safe, special outdoor events that will be announced very soon, so stay tuned…

Also, if you’re looking to celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month this May, AAAFF has partnered with Visual Communications to help curate free films and conversations for the Asian Pacific Virtual Showcase. It’s a great program presented by AAPI film fests across the country.

The Long Center has played a part of my Austin moviegoing experience, too. I’ve sweated it out and had a blast at the popular Sound & Cinema series in past summers. But one of my fondest AAAFF memories there was the CRAZY RICH ASIANS Night Market event in 2018. It was great to see everyone’s excitement for the movie, but just as wonderful that AAAFF and so many local organizations and vendors came together to serve the AAPI community.

I know I’ve talked a lot about myself and AAAFF here, but I also want to plug some other great film festivals in town who always inspire and support us: aGLIFFCine Las AmericasCapital City Black Film FestivalOUTsider FestIndieMeme, and many more. They truly make the Austin film scene special.

Final cheeseball thought: Movies have the power to make us feel seen or to learn about the world through another lens. But that only happens when diverse stories are told!

AAPI Movies that I Love (and Hope that You’ll Love, too)

CHAN IS MISSING
BETTER LUCK TOMORROW
SAVING FACE
THE NAMESAKE
MINDING THE GAP
MINARI
JADDOLAND

For more info about AAAFF and the upcoming June festival head to aaafilmfest.org. To check out some of my work, head to raycloyd.com.

Lots going on in the Austin film scene — hope you get to tune in to one of the above film fests as you stay tuned for more live events from us and our partners around town.

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