When last year’s tragic shooting at Umpqua Community College (UCC) in Roseburg, Oregon, added nine more innocent lives to the growing list of mass school shooting victims in America, a group of students at the University of Oregon (UO) School of Journalism and Communication (SOJC) decided to do something about it.
Prompted by the increasing scope of the problem and the UCC incident’s shockingly close proximity to the UO, Tevin Tavares, Sutton Raphael, Jose Contreras, Larryn Zeigler and Greg Bruce combined their creativity and video production skills to produce “Numb in America,” a short film that simulates a school shooting.
“The UCC shootings had made such a big difference in Oregon, so we knew we needed to do this,” said Tavares.
Following the video’s immediate success, “Numb in America” was nominated for a College Television Award, also known as a college Emmy. This annual event, which has been held since 1978, has grown to be a national competition that awards over 65 Emmys in various categories. All of these awards recognize excellence and innovation in student work.
In light of the gun violence epidemic in the United States, these students knew they wanted to produce a powerful video about mass school shootings. After brainstorming different ideas, the team chose to produce the video from the perspective of a student who witnessed the tragedy unfold and made it out alive. This unique viewpoint contributed to the video’s success and its award nomination.
The team was thrilled and overwhelmed to hear the news about their video’s nomination. “I was in class, and Sutton, one of the producers, called me and asked if I was sitting down. Then he said our video had been nominated for an Emmy!” remembered Tavares, who will be traveling with his four co-producers on May 25 to attend the awards ceremony in Los Angeles, California.
This nomination is not only a milestone for content produced about America’s gun violence epidemic, but also a huge accomplishment for the students involved in this project. “This is a big thing for the University of Oregon and for the SOJC,” said Tavares.
As excited as the team is about the nomination, they also don’t want to lose sight of why they created the video in the first place: to prompt a change in the way we see gun violence in our country.
“Honestly, this was a work of art and creativity, and it would mean a lot for us to win. But this subject is still a horrible subject,” said Tavares. “This hasn’t changed yet. Gun violence will happen again. I want more kids to do short film projects and express their creativity through making a change, because that’s what it takes to change this world.”
Story by Nicole Rideout ’16