Info For
Skip to Content
documentary film in progress

Taylor Film Students Place First in 2024 Broadcast Education Association

  • By: Anna Mitchell
  • Published:
film students working on set

In the 2024 Broadcast Education Association (BEA) Festival of Media Arts, Taylor University placed first among Documentary Programs for the second year in a row.

Winners in the 2024 Festival helped Taylor hold onto its top rank for Documentary programs. In the Micro-Documentary category, Justice Bower, Chloe Gard, and Enoch Eicher’s “orang.utan.” won first place, focusing on the endangered species in Borneo. In the Short-Form Documentary Category, “Beyond Silence,” by JP Susantio, Thane Syswerda, and Nate Conkel, placed second for their story about an audiologist couple who provide hearing care around the world.

Taylor students also ranked 

  • Fifth among the top winning audio programs
  • Fifth among the top winning film and video programs
  • Eighth among the top winning overall programs

Taylor University students have submitted work to BEA since 2006. In 2022, BEA began providing rankings to schools based on their students’ achievements in the past five years. Taylor University has done well in the past, and that helped them with their ranking in 2024.

“It’s such an honor to be recognized by BEA. I believe docs (documentaries) give a voice to people who need more representation,” said junior JP Susantio, Film and Media Arts major.

For this competition, Taylor University Film students submit 10-15 minute pieces. Most documentarians have a year to work on this kind of project, but these students had just three months. 

Kathy Bruner, professor of Film and Media Arts and Stephen Bailey, assistant professor of Film and Media Arts, worked hard to prepare their students to make good documentaries. 

On her syllabus, Bruner puts Proverbs 31:8-9: “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy” (NIV). 

“Taylor Film and Media Arts students understand the responsibility of telling someone’s story” Bailey said. “It is an honor to have an organization recognize the students’ creative, thoughtful, and respectful work.” Bailey teaches an International Production course that has created award-winning documentary work.

Bruner noted the rise in documentary popularity. She said that documentaries use the same storytelling methods as fictional narratives and show character development, plot development, and plot twists just like fictional stories. However, rather than fiction, the films depict the truth. 

“The truth is stranger than fiction,” Bruner said. “And I love nonfiction because I'm compelled by real people's stories. And it's such a privilege to be able to tell other people's stories and to honor them in that way.”

Taylor’s Film & Media Arts program prepares future storytellers for work in film, television and video production. The program gives students hands-on filmmaking experiences using state-of-the-art technology and has earned more than 950 awards and recognitions at regional and national levels.