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AETN, THEA Foundation announce 2014 student film scholarship winners

The Arkansas Educational Television Network and the THEA Foundation have announced winners in the Young Filmmakers Scholarship competition for high school seniors.

The scholarship competition is part of "Student Selects: A Young Filmmakers Showcase," an annual event that grants future filmmakers from kindergarten through 12th grade the opportunity to submit their film and video handiwork for possible broadcast on AETN, streaming on and screening at the Little Rock Film Festival (LRFF). Winning entries will be posted to, and "Student Selects 2014" will premiere on AETN this fall.

For the fifth year, the THEA Foundation in partnership with AETN has awarded graduating seniors four $2,500 scholarships in the categories of screenwriting, directing, cinematography and editing.

Winners of the 20134Young Filmmakers Scholarship competition are:

  • Screenwriting – Damon McKinnis, Pulaski Academy, "Planting Trees." This film follows a son awaiting information on the outcome of his father's heart attack. He soon realizes how much his father means to him and how many of his father's traits he'll apply to his own life.
  • Directing – Conner Leech, Bentonville High School, "Consequences." This drunk driving PSA "prohibits a detached mindset for the events are not remarkable, and that is what is truly terrifying," Leech said in his submission essay.
  • Cinematography – Whitney Butler, Bryant High School, "Isolated." This film follows a young girl being held captive by an unknown source. Butler said in her submission essay that it serves as a metaphor for how the girl is isolated in her own mind.
  • Editing – Dylan Rohr, Searcy High School, "Searcy Plant Closings." This broadcast news segment addresses the closing of the Kohler and Maytag plants in Searcy, information that was not presented to the public and the closings' economic impact on the city.

"Our young filmmakers are so very creative and resourceful – they never fail to amaze me," Casey Sanders, AETN producer and Little Rock Film Festival youth and education coordinator, said. "It's great to provide a platform that helps launch these students in their academic pursuits.

"There are a lot of scholarships out there, but this one really rewards the creative thinker."

To compete for scholarships, seniors were required to guarantee that they were the sole producer of the selected category. Scholarships will be awarded to the student to attend an institution of their choice, regardless of planned major, grade point average or test scores.

AETN "Student Selects" partners include THEA Foundation, Arkansas Film Commission, LRFF, Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival and Arkansas Motion Picture Institute.

The THEA Foundation is a nonprofit, public foundation founded in 2001 by the parents of Thea Kay Leopoulos, Linda and Paul David Leopoulos. The founders and board of directors have adopted the mission of carrying Thea's legacy forward through advocating the importance of art in the development of youth through educational and promotional activities and to encourage individual participation in art through scholarship, partnership and other programs.

The Arkansas Educational Television Network (AETN) is Arkansas's statewide public television network that enhances lives by providing lifelong learning opportunities for people from all walks of life. AETN delivers local, award-winning productions and classic, trusted PBS programs aimed at sharing Arkansas and the world with viewers. AETN depends on the generosity of Arkansans and the State of Arkansas to continue offering quality programming. For more information, visit, or follow the AETN blog at AETN is broadcast on KETS (Little Rock), KEMV (Mountain View), KETG (Arkadelphia), KAFT (Fayetteville), KTEJ (Jonesboro), and KETZ (El Dorado). > Engage > Pressroom > AETN, THEA Foundation announce 2014 student film scholarship winners