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“BAFTA is one of the most prestigious awards in the world. Just being on the shortlist of films is very, very prestigious.” -Brent Adams, Director of the BYU Center for Animation. 

The BYU Center for Animation has a history of earning accolades for its student-created animated short films each year. 2016 has been no different.

This year’s film, Papá​, won the Student Emmy Award for Best Music Composition and has a place on the prestigious shortlist of the British Academy of Film and Television Art (BAFTA) Awards student competition, happening this month.

The comedic and heart-felt storyline of Papá​ centers on a father’s overly-protective love for his daughter as she goes on a date.

Student writer and director Danny Russon created the storyline for Papá​ with fellow students. 

"I felt the story had the potential to touch on some deeper, heartfelt themes like death, letting go and trust, while still maintaining a warm, charming feeling with potential for humor along the way," Russon said. 

The film has no dialogue; this puts a lot of focus on the musical composition written by recently graduated student Jordan Kamalu.

Papá from BYU Animation on Vimeo.

“Danny Russon, the writer and director of the story, wanted a French-Italian romantic theme,” Kamalu said. “Immediately I thought of an accordion, and we wove that into the whole thing.”

Jordan Kamalu  (Credit: Sydney Tittle, BYU Photo)

Kamalu started studying other segments from film shorts where emotion plays a vital role. A segment from the Disney Pixar movie Up titled “Married Life” was a source of inspiration for Kamalu.

“[Composer] Michael Giacchino used the same themes to make you feel happy, sad, and a whole range of emotions,” Kamalu said. “I thought I could do the same thing in Papá​.”

The annual animated short is a collaboration of student work, and Kamalu had to audition his submission. After he was chosen as the film’s composer, Kamalu only had a week to refine, orchestrate, and record the score with the BYU Philharmonic Orchestra because of his recent wedding.

On May 25 at the 37th College Television Awards, his frenzied finishing touches paid off—Kamalu claimed the only award available for film scoring. His win is the 18th Student Emmy Award for the BYU Center for Animation.

In addition to the Student Emmy, BYU was also one of 175 schools invited to submit work to the British Academy of Film and Television Arts student competition for short films. Out of 245 films submitted, both Papá​ and Ram’s Horn, the 2015 animated short, were selected as top 30 films.

“BAFTA is one of the most prestigious awards in the world,” said Brent Adams, Director of the BYU Center for Animation. “Just being on the shortlist of films is very, very prestigious.”

This is the first time BYU has been recognized by the BAFTA awards. Until last year, only schools in southern California were allowed to submit work for consideration. Now the competition is open to any accredited film or animation school. 

"The schools on the shortlist are really the who's who of film and animation schools," Adams said. "Ringling, AFI, USC, Chapman, and especially us."

Many of the students who worked on Papá​ have graduated and now work at Pixar, Sony, Blue Sky, and Nickelodeon. Stephanie Tse, the student producer of Papá​ who also worked on Ram’s Horn, now works at Disney.

“It surprised me how similar BYU Animation is to the set-up at Disney,” Tse said. “I think that’s why BYU Animation has so much success. They make the production process as close to a professional studio as possible. When you get out into the industry and out into the real world, you’re not overwhelmed by the process.”

The BAFTA award winners will be announced June 16.