Blake Wood
Publish Date

The University of Illinois Springfield's Office of Electronic Media and Theatre Department has received three Telly Awards for their video production for Safe2Help Illinois, a statewide school safety initiative by the Illinois Emergency Management Agency aimed at helping youth seek assistance before harm.

UIS earned a Gold Telly Award in the People’s Telly - Social Video category for the “Re-engage Life” public service announcement, a Silver Telly Award for Social Video - Set Design and a Bronze Telly Award for Social Video - Social Responsibility.

The award-winning video was a collaborative effort. The Office of Electronic Media produced and edited the video, while UIS Associate Professor of Theatre Dathan Powell designed and built the sets. Theatre Professor Eric Thibodeaux-Thompson served as the director.

The concept for the video was created by Producer Mark Verdiun, who envisioned a one-shot video where the camera seamlessly pans across multiple scenes without any cuts. This innovative approach required the construction of several interconnected sets, which were filmed in the Sangamon Auditorium.

“We follow the journey of a young person from waking up in the morning, dealing with anxiety and depression throughout the day, to ultimately embracing life again,” said Cody Pope, director of the UIS Office of Electronic Media.

The production also collaborated to borrow furniture from UIS Residence Life and featured extras from District 186’s Southeast High School.

“We're fortunate at UIS to have what I call the UIS advantage,” Pope said. “This advantage is having access to experts across various fields, all within reach just down the hallway.”

Key contributors to the production included Director of Photography Paul Dow, First Assistant Director of Photography Mike Taylor, Assistant Producer Bwayisak Tanko, Safe2Help Illinois School Safety Policy Advisor Samantha Kanish, Production Manager David Hecht, Stage Foreman Joe Taylor, Stagehand Erin Traylor and actors Kayla Sarabia and Karleigh Russell from Shawnee Studios.

The Telly Awards, established in 1979, honor excellence in video and television across all screens. Initially recognizing local, regional and cable TV commercials, the awards have expanded to include non-broadcast video and television programming, branded content, documentaries, social media videos, immersive content and more. The Telly Awards celebrate the best work in the evolving field of digital video.