NEW ORLEANS - James Roe, a recent graduate of the University of New Orleans, is one of 41 finalists in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' 41st Student Academy Awards. He is the only honoree from a Louisiana university and the first person in UNO's history to be named a finalist.
Roe, who earned a Master of Fine Arts from UNO in December 2013, is one of nine finalists in the narrative category for his film 'AM800.'
Academy members will vote to determine up to three winning films in each category. The winners, who will be announced later this month, will be brought to Los Angeles for a week of industry activities and social events, culminating with the awards ceremony in Hollywood on June 7.
'I am really humbled to be nominated,' Roe said. 'Regardless of what happens next, I think it's a true honor to be on a short list with so many talented artists and great films.'
Past Student Academy Award winners have gone on to receive 46 Oscar nominations and have won or shared eight awards. They include Spike Lee, John Lasseter and Robert Zemeckis. The 2014 finalists represent 23 American colleges and universities as well as 10 foreign universities.
'James is a unique filmmaker in that he is gifted in both the storytelling aspect of writing, directing and editing as well as the technological aspect with computers and animation,' said Hamp Overton, associate professor of film and theatre. 'Usually filmmakers are good at either the creative or the technical facets, but rarely at both.'
'AM800' is a paranormal thriller shot over two weekends in locations around New Orleans, including the Earl K. Long Library and a soundstage at the University of New Orleans. The film was partially funded by a grant from New Orleans philanthropist Jeri Nims, who is one of UNO's largest donors. Roe conceived the idea for the project while living in Uptown New Orleans in an old house with a small door, under a staircase, that led to an area beneath the house.
'I started thinking about that door, and how there are probably many like it in New Orleans, and how old homes can conceal secrets,' Roe said.