Get to Know Team Oscar: The Next Generation of Filmmakers
Six young filmmakers from around the country will be taking the stage at the Oscars
Oscar nominees, watch out – there’s a new crop of talented filmmakers that may soon be gunning for their very own statuettes.
This year, six young filmmakers were chosen to become members of Team Oscar after submitting 60-second films based on the subject “The best piece of advice I’ve ever received.”
The winners – Chris Carmona, Justin Craig, Kelly FitzGerald, Justin Floyd, Rhianna Shaheen and Patrick Walker – will deliver Oscar statuettes to celebrity presenters at the Oscars on Sunday.
PEOPLE caught up with some of the up-and-coming filmmakers to find out what the opportunity meant to them, their advice for other aspiring filmmakers, and which celebrity is sure to make them starstruck at Sunday’s award show.
What was the best part of being involved in the program?
CHRIS CARMONA: How eye-opening it is. We’re given the incredible chance to witness the ins and outs of the greatest award show in history!
JUSTIN CRAIG: The best part of being involved with this program is the sense of accomplishment. Being one of six selected out of 1,100 for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity is amazing. Having just graduated college, being able to hold an Oscar at the actual event – the biggest event in this field – is incredibly fulfilling and humbling.
KELLY FITZGERALD: It offers an exclusive learning experience. With so many opportunities to meet successful and well-known individuals in the industry, my time as part of Team Oscar taught me a lot of things I would have otherwise never known.
RHIANNA SHAHEEN: To work with Academy professionals and be surrounded by actors has given me a better understanding of how this industry works. It has been a huge confidence booster.
PATRICK WALKER: I have met a lot of amazing people and made some amazing connections that will last forever in this industry. Being an actor, we don’t always get these opportunities, and I’m thankful that I was able to win the competition to get ahead of the pack.
What advice would you give to other young filmmakers?
CC: Never be afraid to be passionate. Passion can take you a really long way. You also have to be quick on your feet, you have to have thick skin in case some hurtful words get thrown at you, you have to be ready for those rejections and those losses, and you have to be likable – all at the same time!
JC: Be true to yourself and never be afraid of a challenge. Sticking to your style is important. Never try to be someone else and adapt to a different style because it’s what’s popular or wanted.
KF: Don’t be afraid of failure. As long as you want to be a part of the film industry and put yourself out there, you never know what will come your way.
RS: Have a clear vision of what you want to do. Know for sure that you will love it in the good times and the bad. Then make a plan and work on it a little each day until you reach that goal.
PW: Be creative, because being creative gives you a different outlook and it separates your films from the rest.
Which stars are you most hoping to meet at the Oscars?
CC: Chris Pratt, Miles Teller, Ansel Elgort, Ben Affleck, Damien Chazelle – to name a few. But if I had the chance to ask anybody anything, I would probably ask J.K. Simmons if he could please do me the honor of slapping me repeatedly and to ask me if I was “rushing or dragging” because that would be legendary.
JC: Tom Hanks. Just shaking his hand and introducing myself would be absolutely incredible.
RS: Meryl Streep, a longtime role model of mine. I’d also really love to meet Reese Witherspoon and congratulate her on Pacific Standard, her female-driven production company. And maybe ask if she’s looking for interns?