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Student Achievements

First Place in Screenwriting and Promotional Video at the CSU Media Arts Festival

Cal Poly students Matthew Lam, Shanti Herzog and Casey Wieber with their awards at the CSU Media Arts Festival.

Three Cal Poly students placed at the 29th annual CSU Media Arts Festival in Los Angeles on Wednesday, Nov. 13, sweeping the top three spots in Screenwriting and first in Promotional Video.

The annual CSU Media Arts Festival is a film competition for students in the 23-campus California State University system. The festival gives students an opportunity to present their work for critical review and bridges the gap between students and working professionals in film and media. The competition was a part of the Digital Hollywood media conference, which had workshops and events meant to prepare CSU students to work in entertainment and media.

Journalism major Shanti Herzog placed first and third in the Screenwriting category for two original screenplays; English major Matthew Lam placed second in Screenwriting for an original screenplay; and art and design major Casey Wieber placed first in Promotional Video.

“‘Rosie’ is such a piece of my heart; I’m so, so proud and humbled to have won — especially because we were competing against schools with larger film programs,” Herzog said of her first-place screenplay. “The festival was definitely encouragement to keep writing. If I could do this for the rest of my life it would be a dream come true.”

The winning projects were:

  • First Place, Screenwriting: “Rosie,” written by Herzog. A socially awkward plant professor forms a unique bond with a blind student named Rosie, and their care for plants in his conservatory opens them to explore perceptions of beauty.
  • Second Place, Screenwriting: “Ruminations on Death and Family,” written by Lam. Dining at a Chinese restaurant, 7-year old Marcus’s family gathering is interrupted in an unforgettable way.
  • Third Place, Screenwriting: “The Roof,” written by Herzog. A seasoned construction worker is forced to face his prejudices when he learns that his new apprentice, Gerri, is actually a young Venezuelan woman.
  • First Place, Promotional Video: “Danny Derrick: The Private Studio Experience,” produced and directed by Wieber. A portrait of a San Luis Obispo tattoo artist, available for viewing on the CSU Media Arts Festival YouTube page.

The winning films were written in Media Arts and Technologies: Storytelling (ISLA 340) and produced in Media Arts and Technologies: Cinematic Process (ISLA 341), a capstone course for students working toward a media arts, society and technology (MAST) minor. In ISLA 340, students work on their writing and storytelling skills and produce screenplays throughout the quarter. In ISLA 341, students pitch their screenplays and work in teams to produce short films.  

“It was absolutely wonderful to see the students win in all of the categories in which they were nominated,” said faculty member Randi Barros, who teaches media arts courses in the College of Liberal Arts interdisciplinary studies program. “It was just so perfect and validating for our program and the hard work and creativity of our students.”