EDITORS NOTE: Rachel Beltran (BFA/Digitial Arts ’17) is one of our many talented Digital Arts students. She, along with some classmates, had the opportunity to go to Los Angeles to check out the Academy Award nominated animated and short films. She was kind enough to share her experience with us.

It didn’t really hit me that I was going to an Oscar event until the sun set over the Los Angeles skyline and we were getting off the freeway into Beverly Hills. I was sitting in the car with my classmates Ian Wooster (BFA/Digital Arts ‘17), Evan Barraza (BFA/Digital Arts ‘18), Matt Herb (BFA/Digital Arts ‘18) and Aharonit Elior (BFA/Digital Arts ‘17) and wondering aloud, “Do we walk in through the front door to the Academy or do we wait in line with the other guests?”

The answer? We walk right in through the front door.

It was a proud feeling. Academy security guards asked us who we were, to which we replied “Bill Kroyer’s students.” That was all that was needed to usher us into the reception area, where directors and industry members alike shook hands and rubbed elbows before the presentation of the animated shorts. I look to my left: Patrick Osborne and Kristina Reed, directors of the animated short
, taking their publicity photo in front of the iconic gold Oscar. To my right: Sean Astin, also known as Samwise Gamgee from
The Lord of the Rings
and our benevolent host of the night. Me and the other students quickly grabbed our food and huddled around, but were in agreement on one thing: this had to have been one of the coolest rooms we had ever been in.

Of course, we spoke to all sorts of exciting people – Bill was unendingly social and introduced us to wildly talented nominees and guests. By the end of the night, we had shook hands and had conversations with Patrick Osborne, Robert Kondo, Christopher Hees and Dice Tsutsumi – all directors/producers up for a nominee that night.

Bill Kroyer and Dodge students at the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences.

Q&A after the screening

I would say it was surreal, but that wouldn’t be the truth. It was all very real to me. I shook their hands and gave them my best smile. One day, I would be on their end, shaking hands with a Digital Art student. I was working towards that goal every day at Dodge. It seemed sort of like a sneak preview of my future to come to an event like this.

So we finished our dinners, congratulated the nominees, headed towards the theater and took our seats. Sean Astin gave his opening remarks, a low voice introduced the first animated short film, and we were catapulted into the different films of the night. There were 5 in total, and each were competitively remarkable in their own way. Sean brought up each of the directors onto the stage after they finished and grilled them on their stylistic choices. “How did you achieve this shot? How did you capture the emotion in this moment? Where did you come up with this idea?”; all questions I was asking myself. It seemed so strange that just a moment ago, we were talking over a small plate of couscous and now they were on the Oscar stage chatting about their Oscar-nominee short films.

After they exited the stage and the live action short films were projected onto the screens, we watched 5 more short films before calling it a night. It was 11 pm at that point. Bill rallied us around and took a picture in front of the Oscar on the second floor, then brought us downstairs. After we spoke amongst ourselves about what we thought of the films and who would win, we congratulated a few more directors and then headed home. It was going to be another hour to get back home, and we had Digital Arts classes the next day! What a life, right?

Bill Kroyer and Dodge students at the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences.

In all, it was a night I won’t forget. Not just because of the people I met or the fact that I was in the Academy building, but because I had an inside look at an industry I’m so enamored with. If I wasn’t affirmed about what I was doing, I am now. I thrived in those four hours we were talking to industry guests and getting to know more about the films. I felt like I had just been a fly on the wall of an atmosphere I had only heard about in school. I’m very proud that Dodge kids – and in particular, Digital Arts students – have the opportunity to attend events like this. Shout out to Bill Kroyer for continuously being the man!