Thursday, February 27, 2014
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Bryson Kemp looks camera ready in his tuxedo. Bound for the Oscars, the 19-year-old is the picture of elegance.
Until he turns around and reveals rows of safety pins snaking down his pant legs and up the back of his jacket. The college student is being fitted for a custom tux for his first trip to the Academy Awards. It has to be perfect, because Kemp will definitely be on stage.
He's a member of Team Oscar: six aspiring young filmmakers from colleges across the country who will be handing Oscar statuettes to the stars presenting them Sunday night. Students are replacing the traditional trophy models for the second consecutive year.
"I feel so lucky and so honored," said Kemp, back in his street clothes while a fellow Team Oscar member got the safety-pin treatment. "And the other five winners... they're crazy good."
Chosen from more than 2,000 submissions, the winning three men and three women represent different schools and filmmaking disciplines.
Besides Kemp, a composer studying at Muhlenberg College in Pennsylvania who dreams of scoring movies, the other students whose one-minute video entries won them an unforgettable Oscar experience are: director-producer Tayo Amos of Stanford University, director Nathan Flanagan-Frankl of Orange, Calif.'s Chapman University, cinematographer Zaineb Abdul-Nabi of the University of Michigan, writer-director Jean Paul Isaacs of Rutgers University in New Jersey, and animator-editor Mackenna Millet of Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif.
Amos thinks the winners were chosen for "diversity — not only of background and geography but also interests."
"I hope they picked me because they saw my passion for directing and big-picture productions," the 21-year-old said.
Returning Oscar producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron decided last year to replace the leggy models-for-hire that typically carry trophies on Oscar night with students seeking to work in the entertainment industry.
"They are so wide-eyed, and that's the reason that we initiated the program," Meron said. "We thought: Why not hopefully continue this amazing legacy — and these are the people to do it with — to open the doors and have everybody on stage be significant? To experience what the show means from that level, from an unjaded level, is what it's all about."
The students began their Team Oscar adventure Monday night. Tuesday included a trip to Disney Animation Studios, where the students met the Oscar-nominated directors of "Frozen," a visit to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' vast archive at the Margaret Herrick Library in Beverly Hills, Calif., and a private fitting for Oscar-worthy formalwear.
Isaacs, who already won a contest to have a short film play at the Cannes Film Festival, said his experience with Team Oscar will "fuel my inspiration and provide me with indescribable confidence and spirit that one day I could come back on my own merit."
"Just to be a part of this environment is awesome," the 22-year-old said.
Millet said, "Seeing my dad so proud has one of the best parts."
The students have been excitedly considering all the stars they'll meet this week from their rarified position backstage.
Flanagan-Frankl and Millet say they're most eager to meet Oscar presenter, nominee and past winner Jennifer Lawrence.
"I would definitely be star-struck, but it's just how you handle it," Flanagan-Frankl said. "I definitely would want to play it cool as best I can."
Amos said if she meets supporting actress nominee Lupita Nyong'o, "I would cry."
"I won't be composed at all," she said.
Kemp hopes to meet 49-time nominee John Williams, up this year for his score for "The Book Thief."
"He's my idol," Kemp said. "It would be such an honor. If I had a tenth of his success, I'd be the happiest guy alive."
Follow AP Entertainment Writer Sandy Cohen at www.twitter.com/APSandy .