An Emerson student filmmaker will be on stage at the Academy Awards this Sunday, February 24, after beating out more than 1,000 other college students who vied for the honor.
“I’m really shocked and really happy,” said Hearin Ko ’15, a young filmmaker and Visual and Media Arts major. “I never thought I’d be standing here.”
Ko is one of six students selected to hand the Oscar statuettes on stage to celebrity presenters and will be seen during the televised broadcast on ABC.
Using the college film students – who were chosen after completing a video essay contest showing how they will contribute to the future of film – marks a shift for the Academy Awards, which previously used female models to hand the statuettes to the presenters.
“This tradition of the buxom babe that comes out and brings the trophy to the presenter… seemed to be very antiquated and kind of sexist, too,” said Neil Meron, co-producer of this year’s Academy Awards, in an interview with the Associated Press.
Ko’s 30-second video was shot and edited at Emerson last month and describes how Ko wants to create a genre called “magic realism,” which is a defined as a blend between fantasy and surrealism.
Ko said she was able to view some of the video submissions as she was preparing hers over winter break and opined that many were “boring.”
“Most people just answered the questions without any editing,” she said. “I wanted to do something cool.”
Ko spent days putting together drawings, balloons, and artwork, and tweaking animations on Photoshop before submitting her video.
“The [Academy Awards officials] told me my video was very interesting and it was creative. A lot of people used that word,” she said.
Ko said she split her childhood between Seoul, Korea, and Shanghai, China, where she moved with her family at age 9 and was forced to learn both Chinese and English because she attended an American-themed school.
“I had this huge stress,” she said. “Kids at that age think other kids who can’t speak the language aren’t smart. I hated school.”
But one day her teacher gave the class an option of filming a video in place of a written book report on the novel To Kill A Mockingbird.
“I chose to make a video because I didn’t have to write an essay or any words,” Ko said. “I used my little brother and our neighbors to play the main characters. I got an ‘A.’”
Ko said it wasn’t long after that when she dove into filmmaking and won several awards in high school.
During the Oscar ceremony, hosted this year by Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane, Ko said she and the five other student winners will receive a televised introduction.
“I’ve already met so many people in the industry since I got here” a few days ago, Ko said. “Hopefully this will help me gain experience and internships later on.”
She said her parents are proud and “so happy” and plan to watch the broadcast from China.
“I’ve really wanted to prove to them that I want to be in film,” Ko said, “and this is definitely one way to prove it.”