2 awards for PUC student-produced documentary about dark side of Internet technology

Purdue University Calumet communication students and recent graduates produced a documentary about a potential dark side of Internet technology that received two Gold Empixx Awards.

The documentary, “Checkmate,” which explores through interviews many of the psychological, physical and social consequences of the Internet, earned awards in Documentary and Education categories.

Playing key roles in the production were: producer/director and 2010 alumnus Joe Wielosinski of Burnham, Ill., producer and student Kaitlin Craig of Highland, editor and 2010 alumna Kimberly Lindsey of Highland, and script writer and 2009 alumnus Donald P. Gadberry of Griffith.

“The documentary crew felt that many people were uninformed of the potential ramifications of abusing the Internet,” Wielosinski said. “Our goal in producing ‘Checkmate’ was to shed some light on an important, but not necessarily popular topic.”

“Checkmate” was produced as an independent study project, supervised by Purdue Calumet Associate Professor of Communication Mary Beth O’Connor. Many of the student crew members received six hours of academic credit for their work. The project took three years to finalize. Some students worked past graduation to complete it.

“I’m proud of my students for being brave enough to work with me in producing a documentary that examines such unpopular and controversial subject matter which challenged their perceptions,” O’Connor said. “Often times, they felt defeated as many people were angry with them for daring to suggest that the Internet might have a dark side. Some refused to participate in interviews, while others ignored the students’ requests for information. It takes a special student not to take that reaction to heart and continue to press forward in the quest for truth.”

A Purdue Calumet faculty member since 1989, O’Connor has directed students who have earned 46 television production-related awards, 11 television script writing awards and three advertising awards. Additionally, she has earned various other production awards to which her students have contributed.

For this year’s Empixx Award consideration there were more than 1,100 entries from the United States and Canada, with 168 entries selected for the top level Platinum Award and 206 for the Gold Award.

The Purdue Calumet production was judged alongside those from such client brand firms as AT&T, Disney-Pixar, Dunkin Donuts, Home Depot, Kellogg’s, The Coca-Cola Company, Toyota, Universal Studios and Warner Brothers Entertainment.

“I was elated when I found out that we received two Gold Awards,” Wielosinski said. “When submitting the documentary, we knew this was a controversial topic and that viewing parties may or may not understand our artistic perspective. It feels great to be honored this way, and I hope it encourages other Purdue Calumet students to submit their work for potential awards.”

The American Pixel Academy (APA), a coalition of professionals and educators in the field of electronic moving pixels, sponsors the Empixx Awards. Entries are judged on a 10-point scale standard of excellence. More information about “Checkmate” can be obtained by visiting http://www.freewebs.com/checkmatethedocumentary/.