Duke to Hollywood Challenge

Tuesday, November 25, 2014
By Anne Piotrowski

DEMAN, Duke’s network for students and alumni interested in arts and media careers, is sending two Duke students to Hollywood in the upcoming months.


Junior Alex Elliott and Senior Jamie Kessler won the Duke to Hollywood Challenge to create a new video and logo to promote DEMAN, a two-category competition sponsored by Duke Arts, the Alumni Association, and the Duke Artstigators.

Elliott, a junior Public Policy major with a certificate in Arts of the Moving Image, created the winning video. He will spend the summer in LA. After winning Duke’s Froshlife movie competition at the end of his first year, he formed his own production company (which helped with Kessler’s film), Alex Elliott Productions, and interned at Marc Platt Productions with the spring 2014 Duke in LA program.  

Elliott has been involved in film production through Duke and outside internships -- including working on Fox’s ''Sleepy Hollow.''  Now, though, he hopes to try his hand interning at a talent agency.

Kessler, an English major who wants to make screenwriting her career, designed the winning logo. She will use the trip to network and interview for jobs during spring semester. After taking classes on film production and screenwriting (particularly Professor Neal Bell’s ''Ready for Prime Time'') during her freshman year, she spent semesters in New York and LA with Duke’s study-away preprofessional media programs. In New York City, she interned with Comedy Central, and in LA, she worked with Nickelodeon.  In her spare time, she enjoys writing and producing short films with other Duke students. Her latest, ''Two Men Walk into a Bar''with Duke undergraduate actors Ben Hatt and Robbie Florian, riffs on Ernest Hemingway and Shakespeare. She also has written film reviews for The Chronicle’s Recess section since freshman year.


Both students credit DEMAN for introducing them to mentors and inspiring them to pursue a career in the arts. ''Though not as many Duke students go into film, the community is so  strong,'' says Elliott. ''They’re always excited to help undergraduates.''

Judges included Mark Vahradian Political Science '89 (executive producer of ''Transformers''), Bryan Unkeless Psychology ' 04 (co-producer of ''Hunger Games''), Karen Price English '92 (Duke in LA), and Scott Lindroth, Duke's vice provost for the arts.