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Jason Gilligan  in Mason TV studio

Film and Video Studies major Jason Gilligan wrote a pilot, Through the Trees Eyes, for his Web Series class that was produced as a short film. The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences National Capital Chesapeake Bay Chapter recognized it with an Emmy.

Regional Emmy Honors Student Film

Jason Gilligan didn’t have winning an Emmy on his bucket list. The George Mason University film and video studies major has hardly had time to make a bucket list.

A short while ago, he was majoring in psychology at Christopher Newport University. Now his short film, Through the Trees’ Eyes, and the team that produced it, has won a student production award from National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences National Capital Chesapeake Bay Chapter. George Mason also was recognized with a Pillar of Excellence at the same ceremony on June 25.

The short film is actually a pilot episode that Gilligan wrote in his FAVS 378 Web Series course. As a part of the class, every student wrote a pilot for a web series they were pitching. The scripts were read by outside reviewers who recommended which pilots should be produced. Gilligan’s script was one of two chosen. The class was then divided into two groups to crew the films.

Hannah Looney served as producer of Through the Trees’ Eyes, Cameron Perrier directed, Logan McKennah Brown was director of photography, and Austin Crooch edited the film. All are Mason film and video studies majors.

“I still have trouble believing it. I’m really proud and really amazed.”

— Jason Gilligan

This is the third time GMU-TV senior executive producer Susan Kehoe has taught the Web Series course. The second time she taught the class, students won a Telly, a Webby, and six Cinema in Industry (CINDY) awards.

“The students are really turning out some amazing work,” says Kehoe. “Awards like this are testament to the outstanding students Mason attracts.” 

Gilligan, a horror buff, has been writing short stories since middle school, but this was his first serious attempt at screenwriting. In Through the Trees’ Eyes, a combat veteran travels through a forest patrolled by a mysterious man who promises to protect him from packs of feral Night Terrors.

Gilligan says the biggest challenge of writing this pilot was figuring out what the entire series would be. “To have the audience explore the mystery fully, I had to know what is in the first and last episodes,” he says.

Gilligan says the series has 10 eight-minute episodes, and the second has been written. Theater major John Millward agreed to return to his role as the combat veteran, and Gilligan hopes to shoot the rest of the series in August.

“It’s a big endeavor, but I’m very excited to work on it,” says Gilligan.