Jacksonville student wins Student Academy Award
21-year-old won for film depicting transgender teen struggling with identity
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Saturday is Oscar night for Drew Brown, a 21-year-old Jacksonville student who is in Los Angeles to pick up his Student Academy Award.
Brown (pictured below), who attends the Art Institute of Jacksonville, spoke Tuesday about his accomplishment and how it felt to find out he won.
"I just started crying and I told Shawn over the other end of the phone, I told him he just made my life, and he just started laughing and laughing," Brown said in a phone interview from Los Angeles.
Brown's award winning 14-minute silent film called "Person" is about a transgender teenager struggling to resolve identity conflicts.
The Student Academy Awards has five categories: alternative, animation, documentary, narrative and foreign film.
WATCH: Trailer for 'Person'
Brown said his category, alternative, deals with ideas and concepts that aren't talked about much in film and presenting them in a untraditional way.
"I realized that transgenderism is still a subject a lot of people still are lacking in awareness of, and so I felt like we could tell a story and use this concept and really bring some awareness to the audience," Brown said.
Brown wrote, directed, acted, danced, edited and composed the music in the movie. He also designed the poster for the film.
Brown graduates from the Art Institute of Jacksonville in three weeks in digital film and video production. He plans to stay in Jacksonville and continue making films.
"I feel really confident about Jacksonville, and you know, I love how the art community is blooming and it's becoming more accepted," Brown said.
Another senior who worked on the film is leaving for Los Angeles later this week.
"I believe film has the power to change people's minds about things, because deep down it makes us feel things that -- it makes us feel things in a way that maybe books and poetry can't sometimes," said Zane Hall, who's graduating in cinematography.
The students' professor is also going to the ceremony.
"Here we are from this tiny program in Jacksonville, which isn't exactly on the grid for film, and I just think it's a great moment to remind all of us to dream big," professor Nadia Ramoutar said.
Brown will find out at Saturday's ceremony whether he got first or second place. He will also get a cash prize.
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