The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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Alum wins award for short film


First place winners in the Children's category for "Turbo" (University of Southern California - School of Cinematic Arts and California State University Northride- Cinema & Television Arts), producers Garrett T. Thompson, Rachel G. Blavin, actress Yvette Nicole Brown and producer Jarrett Lee Conaway attend the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences 31st Annual College TV Awards at Renaissance Hollywood Hotel on April 10, 2010 in Hollywood, California. Photo courtesy of Mathew Imaging/


Rachel G. Blavin, 23, graduated in the summer of 2007 with a major in CTVA. Blavin and her team were awarded the first place award in the Children’s category for the short-film “Turbo” at the 31st Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Television Awards. First place winners receive a $2,000 award.

The team included Blavin, a former CSUN- Cinema & Television Arts student and former students of USC’s School of Cinematic Arts. Awards were given to the producers Garrett T. Thompson and Rachel G. Blavin and director, producer and co-writer Jarrett Lee Conaway in Hollywood, California.

Blavin said the film is a 20 minute short film and has a lot of subplots, which weren’t included due to a timing limit.

“It’s a photo realistic fighting video game whose characters enter a 4D world when in the game. The characters in the film are in high school. Our goal is to make ‘Turbo’ into a TV series, or a summer blockbuster,” Blavin said. “We’ve been shopping around a lot and going to meetings and working on the concept. We think it would be amazing as a feature film.”

Debbie Slavkin, Program Manager for the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Foundation said the awards are handed out annually and this year they received almost 600 entries. She said they choose the winner based on excellence in overall production, creativity and storytelling.

“The award is a Producer’s award, so the pieces are considered in their entirety.  The music composition category award is, however, given to the composer.  In that case, the judges evaluate how well the score helps to move the story along, how the music sets the tone etc.,” Slavkin said.

Blavin said she was fully involved in the making of the film “Turbo.” The film began production in 2007 and ended in late 2008 beginning of 2009, after Blavin had graduated from CSUN.

“I was working at Magic Film Video Works and the director Jarrett Lee Conaway was a client of mine. He told me about the project he was working on for his senior thesis and I told him if he ever needed any help to let me know and he did,” Blavin said.

Slavkin said the Academy has had a couple of years with collaborations with CSUN students who have won. 

“Last year’s Best Use of Music went to a collaboration between Art Center College of Design and CSUN. (The) quality of entries continues to improve each year,” Slavkin said.

As posted on the “Turbo” website “Turbo” is a high-adrenaline short film in the tradition of the “Karate Kid” and “Tron.”  It tells the story of Hugo Park (Justin Chon,”Twilight”) a troubled youth whose only outlet for angst is a 4D fighting videogame called “Super Turbo Arena”. 

Blavin said they actually had to work around Justin Chon’s schedule, as he was the lead and was also filming Twilight. 

“Filming took about six months and post production took about five months,” Blavin said. “We applied to be an award winner in the children’s category and won. Our co-producer Garrett T. Thompson won this award two years ago,” Blavin said. “We’re really excited about winning.”

 Blavin said the director, Jarrett Lee Conawa, was also the producer and co-writer said he always had this idea in mind and drew inspiration from games like “Street fighter” about the future of video gaming.

Conawa said the road to making the film was filled with struggles.

 “About two weeks before filming, we still hadn’t raised enough money for the production. There was a point where I thought we just wouldn’t be able to move forward, but instead I took the ‘if you build it they will come approach,’” Conawa said. “We shot as much as we could with the money we had raised and then we took a one month break, shot some more, then two months later did some pickups. We didn’t have money for our visual effects, but then we applied for finishing funds and that made completing the film possible.”

Blavin said the film depicts a 4D experience for the characters, not the audience.

“Any teenager can relate to this theme, competing for fame and corporate sponsorship,” Blavin said.

Conawa said he is most proud of simply completing the film.

“Seriously TURBO was an incredibly ambitious and daunting project. Every day was a challenge just to keep the film going. I’m proud I survived the process and came out the other side a better filmmaker for it. I’m also proud that people seem to really enjoy it!,” Conawa said.

Conawa said he thinks “Turbo” stood out because you can see it’s the prototype of a much larger idea.

“ I wanted to create something you could see as a franchise. A summer blockbuster, short film. Kids love the film and they often ask me when they’ll be able to see what happens to these characters next,” Conawa said.

To watch the film, go to

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