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Two Cornellians are nominated for Oscars for two films that they participated in, including Reed Van Dyk, above, for DeKalb Elementary.

January 30, 2018

Two Cornell Alumni Films Could Be Awarded at This Year’s Oscars

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The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has nominated films that two Cornell alumni helped create.

Trevor White ’07, the executive producer for The Post, could walk on stage this year if The Post receives the award for Best Picture at the Oscars on March 4, and Reed Van Dyk ’07 is nominated for his role as writer and director for DeKalb Elementary, a short film.

White, who studied filmmaking at Cornell, and his brother co-founded Star Thrower Entertainment, which most recently produced Best Picture nominee The Post.

Van Dyk graduated with a Bachelor’s in theater arts from the then-Department of Theatre, Film and Dance — now Performing and Media Arts — and went on to get his MFA in film directing from the University of California, Los Angeles. His film DeKalb Elementary is nominated for Best Live Action Short Film.

Although he originally worked in acting, Van Dyk said his time at Cornell ignited his dream of working behind the scenes as a filmmaker.

“My first experience of directing was at Cornell. I took David Feldshuh’s Introduction to Directing in Theater and started to fall in love with it more,” Van Dyk told The Sun. “It was at Cornell that I had my first dip into the waters behind the camera.”

When asked about his reaction to the news of the nomination, Van Dyk said he was actually half-asleep at the time and had to set an alarm so that he wouldn’t miss the announcements.

DeKalb Elementary is a fictional short film inspired by “a 911 call made public that just stuck with me for days,” Van Dyk said, recalling the “harrowing” feeling. The film tells the story of a bookkeeper at an Atlanta school who talked down a gunman, averting a devastating event.

Van Dyk said he wanted to get across the poignancy of the 911 call by allowing audiences to experience the emotions themselves through the film.

“My favorite films don’t have a direct message,” he said. “You peel back layers of character and invite the audience to have their own experience, one that may be interesting or heartbreaking.”

White could not be reached for comment.