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The Committee, a film produced in an honors advanced documentary workshop class at UCF, has won a Suncoast Emmy for historical documentary.

The film, produced in fall 2011, details the story of how the Florida Legislative Investigation Committee, nicknamed the Johns Committee, persecuted LGBT citizens in the Florida university system. Robert Cassanello and Lisa Mills, associate professors from the history and film departments, respectively, taught the class.

Those who worked on the film, Cassanello said, were given a rare opportunity to produce something not out of their own pocket that they could then distribute.

"One of the things that UCF allows us to do by working on a program for class with students is to make a product that's free and available to anyone," Cassanello said. "We don't have to participate in the for-profit model of the entertainment industry."

The film was not eligible for a Primetime Emmy as it was not nationally syndicated, but it was eligible for a regional Emmy.

Related: UCF alumna's film shows at Global Peace Film Festival

After conversations with a producer on the film, the group decided to submit the film to the Suncoast Emmys.

The Committee was the first Emmy submission by the program, and was also submitted for the editing category.

For Mills, who has a background in broadcast journalism and has personally submitted several samples over the years, this win is a long time coming.

"I've been trying for 30 years to win one of these Emmys," Mills said. "It's extremely gratifying to see a film about this dark corner of Florida receive the recognition that can help others know that we can never go back to the days when our state systematically discriminated against gay and lesbian citizens."

Mills said the true reward, however, was seeing the success the film has brought students in their professional endeavors.

UCF 2013 graduate Monica Monticello, who served as a producer on the film, sent Mills an email detailing such success.

"I just wanted to let you know that this week I was offered a job because of the research and writing experience present on my résumé," Monticello's email stated. "During each of my (eight) interviews, I discussed how much I had learned working on the documentary. Roughly 80 percent of my résumé consists of my work on The Committee, and I secured a real job thanks to it."

"That's the kind of email that teachers live for," Mills said.

Students can view the 24-minute documentary in its entirety on the UCF website under the College of Arts and Humanities by searching The Committee.

Other awards "The Committee" has won:

  • Broadcast Education Association: Best of Competition Mixed Video (2012)
  • Hampton Dunn Broadcasting Award (2013)
  • Love Your Shorts Film Festival: Best Documentary (2014)
  • Durban Gay & Lesbian Film Festival, South Africa: International Jury Award for Best Documentary (2014)

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Adam Rhodes is the Entertainment Editor at the Central Florida Future. Follow him on Twitter at @byadamrhodes or email him at AdamR@CentralFloridaFuture.com.

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