What started as a joking, late-night conversation has evolved into a competition-winning project for a pair of University of the Ozarks radio/television/video (RTV) and strategic communication majors.
Sheryl Cambronero, a senior from Costa Rica, and Bere Osorio, a rising sophomore from Mexico City, learned last week that they had won the grand prize in a competition sponsored by Mitchell Communications Group, a Northwest Arkansas-based strategic communications firm. Held in conjunction with the first-ever Bentonville Film Festival, the Mitchell competition was looking for imaginative young filmmakers ages 21-and-under to pitch a short film concept at the Mitchell booth during the festival. Entrants had 30 seconds to deliver a creative pitch for producing a film over the next 12 months.
Senior Sheryl Cambronero (left) and sophomore Bere Osorio recently beat out 70 other young filmmakers from throughout the region to win the grand prize in a competition by Mitchell Communications Group
Cambronero and Osorio had just pitched a series for KUOZ TV-6 for next fall. The series is a Spanish soap opera titled, “Las Flores de Spandra,” set on the fictitious Spadra University campus and centering on college students at a small university.
The students said they learned about the Mitchell competition just a few days before the competition deadline.
“Our professors told us about the competition and they thought it would be perfect for us to enter because we had just pitched this series to them,” said Cambronero. “We only had a couple of days to prepare, but that was really all we needed because this was a project that we had already put a lot of time and thought into. The timing was perfect.”
Cambronero and Osorio beat out 70 other entrants to win the competition and a prize package valued at more than $3,000, including a $500 cash prize. They will also receive senior level consultation for development of a short film, one day of training or production assistance from the Mitchell Creative video production team, and an all access pass to the 2016 Bentonville Film Festival. Their soap opera will be combined into a short film and will be shown during next year’s film festival.
“We really didn’t expect to win but we left there thinking that we had done our best,” Osorio said. “Our professors did a great job of preparing us and helping us polish our presentation, so by the time we got there, we weren’t nervous at all. When we found out later that we had won, we were quite shocked.”
The idea for the Spanish soap opera came about late one evening near the end of the semester after Cambronero and Osorio learned that Erik Krauss, director of the international studies program, was resigning his position and not returning next year.
“We were really down when we learned about Mr. Krauss and we were talking about the future and Sheryl said something about how we should do something big to leave our legacy here at Ozarks,” Osorio said. “We were just kind of joking around about creating a soap opera based on Ozarks, but we kept talking about it and started to develop the characters and the background. It just took off from there.”
The students said they plan to shoot three or four 15-minute episodes of the soap opera next fall. Describing it as a satirical drama, the soap opera will done in Spanish with English subtitles. The script for the first series is complete and several of the main characters have already been cast.
“I think one of the things that helped us win the competition is that we were going to do this project whether we had won or not,” Cambronero said. “We didn’t just develop an idea to pitch, we already had one that we’re passionate about. We are completely immersed into this project and we can’t wait to get back on campus in the fall to start production.”
Osorio said that even though her and Cambronero’s personalities are quite different, the co-producers are completely in sync when it comes to producing a film.
“Sheryl is definitely a lot more outgoing than me and I’m more of a laid-back, detail person and we kind of balance each other out, she said. “But in the creative process we’re really quite similar. We’ll be sitting in the cafeteria and both see something and just look at each other because we’re both thinking about how that would look from the camera’s perspective. It’s kind of scary how we think alike in that regard.”
Cambronero said that while she will appreciate the Mitchell firm’s production consultation as part of the grand prize, she is most excited about the $500 cash award.
“We were worried about how we were going to pay for T-shirts and food for our crew and this money was just what we needed,” Cambronero said. “You have to keep your crew happy and well fed so that they will do the best work possible. This will definitely help us do that.”