Two communication students win big with the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences

by Anne Reynolds

Two communication students win big with the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences
Mason communication students Vincent Vinh Nguyen and Julian Lee

George Mason University's Department of Communication faculty member David Miller has high standards for undergraduates in his media courses. “I tell students ... I view them as professionals in training, not just students,” he says. This fall, Miller, who coordinates the media production and criticism concentration in the Department of Communication, saw two students surpass those expectations as they took home Student Production Awards.

According to the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, National Capitol/Chesapeake Bay Chapter (NATAS-NCCB), “the presentation of these awards is intended to be an incentive for the continued pursuit of excellence by those studying media and journalism.”  Two Mason communication students were recognized with awards. Julian Lee won in the Fiction Short Form category for Not Quite Quarantine, a film project that he began during the Covid-19 quarantine and developed with input from some of his fellow students in his COMM 208: Introduction to Media Production class, under the supervision of communication faculty member Lance Schmeidler.

Vincent Vinh Nguyen won an award in the Commercial category for his project Media Production Commercial, a promotional piece for the media production and criticism concentration. “This was a much-needed marketing product,” says Miller, “to put together a commercial, a promo for the concentration, and Vincent delivered for us.”

“I gained confidence in trying new things through the media production program,” says Nguyen. “Professor Miller recognized that I was capable of exceeding expectations. I pushed myself harder because of his encouragement and faith in me.”

Miller notes that the awards were significant given the caliber of the schools represented at the Student Production Awards. “This year, we competed against schools such as the University of Maryland, American University, Howard University, and James Madison University,” he says. Mason held its own against these schools – which traditionally dominate these competitions. “These are outstanding schools – I know their work and their people, and it’s kind of a big deal for us to compete with these formidable schools,” says Miller.

“The fact that my department and program support my creations gives me great confidence,” says Lee, creator of Not Quite Quarantine. The spoof music video paints one teen's experience as he navigates the loneliness and frustrations of pandemic living.

“Our goal is to expose people to all kinds of tools, skillsets, salable skills,” says Miller. “Students can go from here, work in PR, be journalists, work in social media marketing – these are all skills everybody wants.”

Miller believes that the experience of participating in competitive programs is invaluable. “It’s important to let students know what is possible. Building portfolios is essential; things like this certainly get noticed by employers,” he says.

“This award motivates me so much to create more content,” says Lee.  “So I’m going to keep going and spread some joy.”