SOA film students Brett Levner and Steve Sole have won the 2004 Coca-Cola Refreshing Filmmaker's Award for their short film titled Being Reel. As the winners, their film will be shown on nearly 21,000 movie screens nationwide.
"This is an amazing opportunity," said Levner, who wrote and directed the short. "Winning the Coca-Cola Refreshing Filmmaker's Award offers us our first chance to have a piece of our work viewed across America . It's extremely rewarding to see so much hard work pay off in such a big way."
Sole, who produced the short, said, This competition gave us real experience in making a film, and being recognized as the winner is an opportunity for us to officially begin our careers."
Inspired by the passing of Levner's grandmother, Being Reel begins with an older woman cleaning out her closet and disposing of a box of film reels. The films are found by a homeless man digging through the trash and are quickly discarded. But in the chaos that ensues as he tosses the trash into the street, the film is strung through a bike wheel like a projector. A flashlight shines through the celluloid reel while a Coke bottle reflects the moving images onto a white van, which serves as a screen. The Rube Goldbergian projection brings the street to a standstill.
Born and raised in New York City, Levner is pursuing her masters in film directing. She received her BFA in film and video production from New York University in 1998. She has worked as an associate producer for MTV's news and documentaries department.
Sole is currently in his third year in the graduate film program. A New York native, he completed his BFA degree at Emory University. Before attending Columbia , he worked as an oil trader at the New York Mercantile Exchange for the Pioneer Options Trading Group.
The Coca-Cola Refreshing Filmmaker's Award competition required that the short be based on the concept of "a moviegoing or moviemaking experience made from a real perspective." The panel chose Levner and Sole's film from approximately 200 concepts submitted by students representing 10 film schools in the United States . Ten finalists were selected last fall, with each receiving a $5,000 grant to produce their film in less than eight weeks.
As the winners, Levner and Sole will receive $10,000 in cash and have their film shown as part of the pre-feature entertainment in movie theaters across the country beginning this fall. They received their award March 25 at the ShoWest convention in Las Vegas.