film awards

Nick Campbell's childhood dream was to make movies one day, but the dream never seemed attainable while growing up in rural southern Onondaga County. Today at age 30, the dream seems like more of a possibility. A short film he wrote and directed won two awards earlier this year at the Global Film Festival Awards in Los Angeles, and earlier this month was highlighted at the Chicago Film Festival. "It's so surreal thinking of everything. I never would have considered any of this if it wasn't for Professor Snow approaching me and telling me I had a lot of potential with this. His encouragement really stuck with me."

Professor Snow is Patrick Snow, an Associate Professor of English and Creative Writing at Onondaga Community College who Campbell first met several years ago. After graduating from Onondaga Junior/Senior High School in 2011, Campbell planned to go into the military. But instead he wound up staying at home to help a family member dealing with health-related issues. By the middle of the decade, he would enroll in OCC's Criminal Justice degree program.

Campbell had two English classes with Professor Snow, and during their time together they realized they both had an appreciation for film. "I would stay after class and talk movies with him," said Campbell. "He told me he taught a Screenwriting elective so I signed up for it."

During their time together in Screenwriting class, Professor Snow saw special qualities in Campbell. "He had an acute understanding of how to tell visual stories and a passion for the difficult work creative visual storytelling requires. He was also a willing collaborator in workshops. He routinely stayed after class to continue discussing his projects and seek advice. That drive is necessary to thrive in the competitive filmmaking world," said Snow.

Campbell completed his Criminal Justice degree in 2018, then became an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT). He liked working as an EMT so much, he went back to college and earned his Paramedic degree. Currently he's a paramedic with Wayne County Emergency Services.

While he enjoyed serving the public, Campbell's dream of making movies remained. He stayed in touch with Professor Snow and reached out to him once or twice a year. "I encouraged him to pursue his dreams, even if it was writing on his days off from his 'real job,'" said Professor Snow. 

A few years after graduating from OCC, Campbell decided he would go back to school. "I kept thinking 'this is a childhood dream of mine. If I don't do it now I'm never going to do it. I can always have a career in EMS and I would love it. But if I was ever going to go after my childhood dream, this was the time.'"

With a written recommendation from Professor Snow, Campbell applied to SUNY Oswego. He was accepted and became a dual major in Cinema and Screen Studies, and Creative Writing. During this academic year Campbell and three fellow students decided to make a movie for the SUNY Oswego Film Club's Panic Film Festival. The rules of the competition required they make a short horror film in just 48 hours. Campbell was the writer and director, Sofia Lebron was the actress and editor, Brian Maguda was the cinematographer, and Danni Zu was the sound technician and production assistant. They titled their movie "Replaced," and you can view it by clicking on this YouTube link. It was the big hit at the Panic Film Festival, winning Best Picture, Audience Choice Best Director, and Best Cinematography.

So how did Replaced get from SUNY Oswego to the Global Film Festival Awards in Los Angeles? There's a website called Film Freeway where aspiring movie makers can download their work, learn where film festivals are happening, and submit their work for awards. Campbell was on Film Freeway one day when he decided to take a chance. "I wound up submitting Replaced on a whim and thought 'why not?' The actual festival was at the end of January. I wasn't able to make it, but they sent me a link from their YouTube page where they announced their winners. Replaced won for Best Student Filmmaker and Best Horror Short. To be able to win those two awards was surreal. After that I decided to send Replaced out to other film festivals."

Earlier this month he traveled to the Chicago Film Festival where he watched Replaced on the big screen. And this Saturday, he'll cross the stage at SUNY Oswego as he receives his two degrees. He plans to make another short film by the end of the summer while continuing to work as a paramedic, and will also pursue local movie-making opportunities with American High in Liverpool. "I'm so grateful for Professor Snow. He was the first person to tell me I had a lot of potential and that I should go to film school. I give him a lot of credit for being so supportive of me. If it wasn't for him, I might not have ever considered doing  this."

Nick Campbell '18 at the Chicago Film Festival.
Nick Campbell '18 at the Chicago Film Festival.
Onondaga Community College
SUNY Oswego