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UD media production class wins ‘student Emmy’ for Dayton documentary

By Lucy Waskiewicz ’24

Students of the University of Dayton’s Documentary Filmmaking course won the collegiate equivalent of an Emmy Award for their short documentary Shattered: A City Under Pressure.

Shattered won first place in the long-form nonfiction category of the 2022 National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Student Production Awards, Ohio Valley Chapter. It topped productions submitted by colleges and universities in Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana and West Virginia.

The honor marks the UD Department of Communication’s third first-place win in the competition since 2018.

Alex McClary ’22, a media production alumnus from Columbus, helped produce Shattered.

“The whole experience meant so much to me and everyone else in the class,” he said. “As media production majors, we’d learned how to make various productions for four years. Being able to finally come together and apply everything we learned to a documentary was an amazing opportunity.”

Just over 18 minutes long, Shattered tells the story of Dayton’s rise and fall throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. It explores the companies and individuals that built Dayton into an industrial powerhouse with a rich arts culture until the 1960s, when issues like racism and unemployment triggered the city’s slow decay.

Mackenzie Bacarella ’22, a media production alumna from Fairfax, Virginia, who also worked on Shattered, said the documentary served as a tribute to the city.

“Throughout all of the stages of production, we got to see Dayton history play out almost in real time through our research,” she said. “Seeing the images and stories of those in the past helped to bring perspective, which in turn helped make a film that encompassed hundreds of years of history in minutes. It was so rewarding.”

Shattered’s production process spanned the 2021-2022 academic year. Nine documentary filmmaking students worked both in and outside of the classroom writing scripts, collecting B-roll footage around Dayton, organizing and conducting interviews with significant figures, composing original music and editing video.

Students in the course were co-advised by Roy Flynn, principal lecturer and Flyer TV manager, and Greg Kennedy, senior lecturer and media specialist in residence. Kennedy said his favorite part of the filmmaking process was watching the students overcome the hurdles typical of such a large production.

“Every year I know it’s going to be a challenge, probably the biggest challenge of their lives in terms of a production of this magnitude,” Kennedy said. “Seeing them get to that wall and instead of giving up, work together to figure out how to complete the project and then get these accolades for it, I think it makes it worth it.”

McClary said overcoming these challenges was a considerable part of the career preparation producing the documentary afforded him.

“The challenges we faced during this process were problems that I now face working in the industry, so I find myself lucky that I was able to be introduced to these sorts of problems in a setting that was more controllable and familiar,” he said.

Shattered’s win was announced Sept. 18 during a virtual Ohio Valley Regional Production Awards ceremony. The media production program’s documentaries also won first place for nonfiction in 2018, first place for best editing in 2021, and earned honorable mentions in 2016 and 2017.

Bacarella, now a morning news producer at WHIO-TV in Dayton, said her experience creating Shattered, as well as the award, has been beneficial to kick-starting her career.

“It's been such a great thing to have on the resume,” she said. “I can now walk in a room and be like, ‘Yeah, I worked on a student Emmy-winning documentary,’ and people always have good responses.” 

After graduation, McClary joined California-based production company 3 Doors Production Inc., where he works as an art department assistant. He spoke similarly about the experience.

“I think producing Shattered was a great start to the careers of all the students involved,” he said. “I felt like I entered the real world with so much real-life experience and was prepared for what’s ahead. And now I have an award to back up all that hard work.”

To watch Shattered, visit the Flyer TV YouTube channel.

For more information about the media production program, visit the Department of Communication website.

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