Lights! Camera! Jaron! When Jaron Henrie-McCrea accepted his gold medal and $5,000 cash prize for his film Knock Knock at the 32nd Annual Student Academy Awards in L.A. last month, he had already experienced what he considered his favorite part of being nominated. Jaron Henrie-McCrea, upon receiving his gold medal, said, "This has just been overwhelming ... by the way, I'm going to cry and I don't care if you watch me cry. This movie meant so much to me and everybody involved." “The biggest payoff for me was the movie we made was being shown to 1,000 people” at the academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater, Henrie-McCrea said. “Apparently [it] is the best theater in the world.”

While Henrie-McCrea, an Indianapolis native and recent Ball State University graduate, said the award reaffirmed his work, he added an important aspect of filmmaking “is always audience reaction to the movie, entertaining people and doing that successfully. I mean, no chunk of metal could ever give you that kind of satisfaction.”

Henrie-McCrea was nominated along with 11 other film school students in four categories — Narrative, Documentary, Animation and Alternative. There was also an Honorary Foreign Film Student Award.

The academy is the same academy that nominates well-known directors for Oscars. Because Henrie-McCrea received the gold medal for his category, his film, a love story that uses tautonyms (double words like mahi mahi, yoyo, Zsa Zsa, Bora Bora), is eligible for an Academy Award, which would be announced next winter.

To be eligible, Henrie-McCrea said, “is incredibly mind blowing. I’m not holding my breath by any means, but it’s just cool to even have the opportunity to be eligible for an Oscar. That’s really really awesome.”

Henrie-McCrea is the first student from his alma mater to win a Student Academy Award. He was a regional finalist in 2004, also in the Alternative Storytelling Category. He will be attending Columbia University’s grad school in the fall.

Henrie-McCrea looks forward to attending Columbia. “I’m going to the right place because they’re producing filmmakers that win in that category.” Henrie-McCrea added that Columbia has also had winners in the Alternative and Narrative categories in years past.

“So, I mean, I think they know what they’re doing there, and it’s good I’m going to be a part of that,” he said.

As to why he is going to grad school instead of taking the money and making films, he said it’s important to work in a collaborative environment with others who are still learning, and admits he doesn’t yet know all there is to know about filmmaking.

“I think giving film school at least a try is better than saying, ‘Oh, I’m too good for film school and I can go right into the industry,’” Henrie-McCrea said, adding, “I just want to further the artform I guess. The main goal for me every time is to make something that I’ve never seen and hopefully that no one else has either.”

For more on Henrie-McCrea’s work, go to


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