2017 Student Short Film Competition

2017 Student Short Film Competition Winners

University students in Texas had the opportunity to design their own short film combining the potential they see in the Texas high-speed train and their love of the Lone Star State!

Individual students and student teams participating in the competition were asked to provide an original short film ranging from 1 to 3 minutes in length, as well as a vision statement (maximum 500 words). The work could either be animated, live action, or a combination of the two. The participant(s) have the option of choosing one of the sub-prompts under the main prompt (“Why Do You Believe the Texas high-speed train Would Be Beneficial For Texas and Texans?”) or can come up with their own sub-prompt. Participants were encouraged to organize their film in a way that would be presentable for a commercial or short, shareable online clip.

The videos were judged not only on their adherence to the topic and the technical use of video design, but also on their creativity.Watch each of the finalists and winners are designated below.

Stephen Tobolowsky headshot
“Texas has always been about innovation. In film and in technology. The Texas Bullet Train Film Competition is wonderful new opportunity for film artists to show the world what they can do. Art plus innovation. Texas Style! Sounds like fun. And if you’re going to have a good time – you might as well get there fast!”
— Stephen Tobolowsky, Dallas native —


Team: ‘No Train, No Gain’

Created by:
Julia Walter,
Brooke Cyphers,
Jacob Whitley

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We live in a country obsessed with time: fast food, speedy loans, and waiting two minutes for gourmet coffee. America runs on speed. The goal for our advertisement was to show just how much time can be saved by the creation of the bullet train. This yields more time for the joys of life: spending time with loved ones, leisure, relaxation, and fostering creativity. Change is best enacted when people find they own a personal stake in the matter. When Texans see that the bullet train not only provides a safe route, clean travel, and economic benefits (all great things that benefit the whole), but directly affects the individual by providing an easier, faster way to travel, people are more likely to get involved.

The idea of joining live action film and motion graphics is familiar with most audiences, but not overused in the world of advertisement. The video glides through shots of real people, in real situations, enabling our audience to feel personally connected to the situation and cause. Instead of throwing fact after fact out, we wanted to create a story through scenes pulled from everyday life (people spending time with family and friends, performers and hobbyists, etc.) to show how the Bullet Train not only helps Texas as a whole, but also connects communities and appeases the individual. Happy, yet subtle background music accompanied by a soothing narration pushed the calm, personal feel of the video. Lastly, the motion graphics provided are implemented within the video clip environments to look more natural, while simultaneously being aesthetically pleasing through organic and curved forms.

With clean, quirky illustrations, high quality film, and an overall relaxing atmosphere, we hope that our video is able to connect with people from all walks of life on the subject of time and how the Texas Central Bullet Train can help you save it.

Team Mavericks UT ArlingtonTeam: ‘Mavericks’

Director: Jeremy Schack
Script: Alvaro Lopez
Product Assistant: Lyndi Pedersen
Voice Over: Ladonna Aiken

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We believe that the Texas Bullet Train will be beneficial for Texans to ensure a more connected and open future for all. Our vision was to showcase how safe, predictable, and accessible the Texas Bullet Train would be for those with disabilities who would normally face many challenges when they travel.

Team: ‘Revive’

Created By:
Courtney Michalsky,
Amy Self,
Ian Sifeuntes,
Kendall Tiller


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“Revive” tells the story of a man named Ben who commutes frequently from
Houston to Dallas. The drive consists of four hours of dense, relentless traffic, and by the time he finally makes it to work, he is already fed up with his day. He lacks time for himself, and he is frustrated with cramped traffic and monotonous workdays. Every night, he comes home late—his family long asleep—exhausted and dissatisfied. His life is unfulfilling and exhausting.

Then the Texas Bullet Train is introduced into his life.

Suddenly, Ben’s life becomes vibrant. Instead of sitting through unending
traffic, Ben now has a reliable and timely form of transportation that saves him time and stress. He has time to relax and decompress on the train and enjoy the Texas countryside. With a clear mind at the start of every workday, Ben is more efficient and productive, and he can appreciate the subtler, positive things in life that had previously gone unnoticed by him. And now, Ben gets home earlier every night and spends this newfound time with his daughter.

Our story depicts a nondescript businessman, just one of many, in order to
make the man relatable to a wide audience of commuters and allow viewers to put themselves into the story and see the potential effects of the train on their own lives.

We believe the Texas Bullet Train will bring a new energy to commuters
traveling between Houston and the DFW area. The train will allow people to regain lost time and will revive the life of the common “super-commuter”.


Team: ‘Texplorers’

Created by:
Miranda Mabrey, Erin Brown and Stetson Carlile

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Texas is known for many things. Our beautiful landscapes, cowboys, our booming economy. But most importantly we are known for being big. That is great for the most part, until it comes to traveling. It takes around 3 hours and 40 minutes to get from Houston to Dallas. As most would know, a car ride that long is never appealing. However, the Texas Central Bullet Train could be the answer to making that trip worthwhile. The bullet train travels from one city to the next in approximately 90 minutes. Obviously, the ease of use this train is going to attract businesses from the areas to use it, but the demographic can be so much bigger than that. Two major obstacles that prevent young adults from traveling: time and inconvenience. However, this train solves both of those. Getting an airline ticket and navigating an airport is stressful, and taking the time to drive from North Texas to Houston is tedious. Therefore, it can be pretty difficult for young adults to visit family members, or spend a fun weekend away. It may not even feel worth the effort at times. The short film advertisement we will be creating will have a modern style with a story to tell. We want to reach young adults with the newest travel alternative: The Texas Central Bullet Train- connecting them to their travel plans at the utmost convenience.

Team: ‘Tren Bala’

Created by:
April Brown,
Brenda Cristales,
Anthony Taylor,
Cyril Tyson

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Often times when you think of travel, the first means of transportation that pops into your mind are planes and automobiles. Most people correlate these methods with business travel, much needed vacations, or memorable road trips with family or friends. The trip is planned out and well calculated to include the lengthy time needed for airport checks ins, security clearances, stopping for gas or unexcited traffic during travel. This all can be very time consuming but our society has become accustomed to expect that unexpected when traveling by plane or automobile.

In regards to the United States, a plane or car are most commonly used nationwide but there is another means of travel. A train. No, not a subway but a train. Now, if you are speaking to someone from the east coast of the U.S., a train is not that uncommon but if you suggest this to someone in other parts of the U.S., laughter could possibly be a response to this suggestion. The Texas Bullet Train is hoping to turn that laughter into a strong contender when deciding the best way to travel. Its first mission is to tackle to the connection between Dallas, Texas and Houston, Texas on the most used route of Interstate 45. Sounds like a great start but the question is “How to introduce something new to a state built on tradition?” You pull at their heart strings.

This is where the concept for our video takes life. Dallas and Houston Medical districts are both nationally and worldly recognized for their contribution medicine. In our commercial, we decided to expand on this fact. We open with a child, Jayden, who looks like a normal boy. Little do you know he is ill and although, he looks healthy he is in need of a donor. The story unfolds when his mother gets the call that changes Jayden’s life and that of their families. A donor is found in Houston. The mother quickly informs her husband and they rush to get to Houston. So, how will they get there? What will be the fastest and safest route? The Texas Bullet Train. Our commercial explains the forgotten practical use of travel. Health and medical needs. The speed and safety took away from the worry, stress, delays, and lengthiness of traveling by plane or car. The bullet train will definitely make all life has to throw at you easier.


Team: ‘Me, Myself, The Guy’

Created by: Casey Moore

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How does the bullet train benefit Texans?

 My chosen sub-prompt was to focus on how the bullet train will save us time. When it comes to commuting for work or pleasure, I can imagine most people would be very sour when thinking about all the time they waste in the act of just getting there, and I can also assume they are hungry for a time-efficient solution.

While I was visiting Japan a couple of years ago, I had the pleasure of traveling via the bullet train. I experienced firsthand the convenience and speed that the train brings with it, and being able to take that thrill back to Texas is something I would highly value.

My thought process for the aesthetic choice in the video, beginning as vintage and transitioning to a sleek design, is to further illustrate how the bullet train will bring us more closely to the modern era, and further innovate our travel as we move into the future. I hope you feel the same.

Team: ‘Fast Motion Productions’

Team Captain – Victor Perry
Director – Kevin Cedillo
Producer – Grayson Stiham
Space Shuttle Video – NASA
Drone Shots – Fast Motion Productions, Drone City
Music – New Lease on Life -Josh Kramer

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Texans Do More

The heart of Texas is rooted in innovation. It is filled with those willing to get the job done, the adventurers who will go places, and the visionaries who lead the way. For many Texans, each year they make the commute from two of the largest metropolitan cities in the state. The route between Dallas and Houston becomes more familiar to drivers with each passing mile marker, tree, and Buc-ee’s they see along the way. Whether they are turning the ignition to the car or boarding a plane, this commute keeps many Texans on the road spending less time with their families.
The Texas Bullet Train creates a faster, safer system of connecting Dallas and Houston together. What might have been an issue of distance in the past, has formed an opportunity for excitement in the future. The Texas Bullet Train allows for ease of travel for family members, college students, industry professionals, and more as they seek out endless opportunities in both locations. Connections allow for students and professionals the higher chance of placement than never before. For the student desiring to study “near home” or the spouse not wanting to be “far from the family”, the Texas Bullet Train allows anyone to accomplish their dreams.

The same inspiration which drives us in our daily lives, projects us forward in achieving our goals. This new opportunity provides the chance of spontaneity and further development as millions of Texans are able to travel to a new city in less than two hours. What might have previously been a deterrent due to distance has become a thing of the past. Performers ready for their gig in Houston can leave Dallas that night; spouses traveling for work can make it by their morning meeting, and students now have a greater chance of pursue their degree at the school of choice. The Texas Bullet Train allows for Texans to do more than they ever imagined.

As progress is achieved, the ability to move forward increases. What might have once been a roadblock no longer stands in the way. The Texas Bullet Train creates the opportunity for all to follow their dreams by bridging the gap that prevented them in the first place. Plans that would take weeks to develop or a quick vacations planned for the day, are now able to be decided in the matter of 90-minutes. The innovation that once connected us all, has now enabled us to better pursue our dreams!

Team: ‘The Future’

Created By:
Thomas Buell,
Felix Diaz,
Caleb Keys,
Katie Valdes,
Wesley Young

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We have decided to focus on the importance and value of time. To do this, we focused on narrating a story about significant life moments over downtown visual imagery from Dallas and Houston. This will show viewers that the bullet train is going to increase their quality of life, by giving them more time to live life instead of spending it stuck in slower transit of the past. In the future, the bullet train is going to be an essential method of getting people to the important moments in life faster.

The time saved when using the bullet train will allow people to connect faster and spend more time doing the things important to them, from business meetings across the state to catching up with loved ones for once-in-a-lifetime moments. This allows people the freedom to be there when it counts.

We believe this will appeal to people who want to balance their personal and professional life. By connecting people faster, the opportunity to do things important in all aspects of your life will be much more accessible. In the past, you might not have been able to make it home in time for your daughter’s first recital after your big meeting at work in the morning, across the state. Time is precious. Not only do we intend to keep it that way, we intend to make it even more valuable.

Financial Awards

There are two aspects to the completion rewards: publication and prizes. The result of the competition will be published on the Texas Central Website and Social Media outlets. The winning entries will also be awarded cash prizes in the following three categories:

Animation Excellence Prize

to your school

to be divided among team members

Live Action Excellence Prize

to your school

to be divided among team members

Creative Film Prize

to your school

to be divided among team members

Judges Panel

[us_person image=”3488″ name=”Roy Burger” role=”Owner and Operator — RB Film Productions”][/us_person]
[us_person image=”3575″ name=”Janis Burklund, CFC ” role=” Dallas Film Commissioner”][/us_person]
[us_person image=”3483″ name=”Christiano Dias” role=” Director/ Producer and Writer”][/us_person]
[us_person image=”3487″ name=”Rick Ferguson” role=”Vice President and Executive Director — Houston Film Commission” layout=”simple_circle”][/us_person]
[us_person image=”3486″ name=”Jenna Jackson” role=”Director/ Producer, Founder and President — P+R Productions “][/us_person]
[us_person image=”3485″ name=”David Lowery” role=” American Filmmaker”][/us_person]
[us_person image=”3484″ name=”Jalene Mack” role=”Actress,Writer, Producer & Lawyer”][/us_person]
[us_person image=”3489″ name=”Shezad Manjee” role=” Founder and Creative Director — DHD Films”][/us_person]
[us_person image=”3490″ name=”Yen Tan” role=” Film Producer/ Director”][/us_person]