Elon senior named ACE Student Editing Competition nominee

Ben Stringfellow ’15 placed in the top three of the American Cinema Editors’ Student Editing Competition, earning an invitation to the 2015 ACE Eddie Awards in Beverly Hills, California.

Ben Stringfellow ’15 is one of three finalists for the 2015 American Cinema Editors’ Student Editing Competition. A winner will be named at the 2015 ACE Eddie Awards on Jan. 30. Photo by Jon Smith '15
Ben Stringfellow ’15 is one of three finalists for the 2015 American Cinema Editors’ Student Editing Competition. A winner will be named at the 2015 ACE Eddie Awards on Jan. 30. Photo by Jon Smith ’15[/caption]Elon University senior Ben Stringfellow was named a top-three finalist for the 2015 American Cinema Editors’ Student Editing Competition, prevailing over a field featuring participants from film schools and universities across the nation. With the nomination, the Media Arts & Entertainment major received an invitation to next week’s 2015 ACE Eddie Awards to rub elbows with Hollywood’s biggest names in film and television.

Every year ACE – an honorary society for film editors – selects 50 current students for its editing competition and provides them with dailies from a film project. The students are tasked with editing the material into a final product, with the top three finalists invited to the Eddie Awards, recognizing the year’s outstanding editing in 10 film, TV and documentary categories. The overall student contest winner will be named at the ceremony, scheduled for Friday, Jan. 30, at The Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, California.

“To be in the top three is incredibly exciting for me,” said Stringfellow. “Filmmaking, specifically film editing, is a huge passion of mine and, in a way, this kind of confirms to me that this is what I should be doing.”

While the nomination reaffirmed his career path, the student admitted he’ll likely be starstruck in the presence of some of Hollywood’s most notable editors, directors, producers and actors. “Most of the people I look up to will be there,” he explained. “If I get to meet at least one I’ll be happy.”

According to J McMerty, director of the Elon in Los Angeles program, Stringfellow’s nomination – from “the most prestigious organization in the professional editing community” – is both well deserved and a first for the university’s Cinema & TV Arts program.

“I have not seen editing talent like Ben Stringfellow since Sundance award-winning editor Laith Al-Majali ’05 walked our halls,” said McMerty, who has worked with Stringfellow in FreshTV, Digital Media Convergence and the Elon in Los Angeles program over the last four years. “The faculty and staff in the School of Communications are so proud of Ben and this accomplishment. Not only is Ben an outstanding editor but also one of the finest young men I have run across. It won’t be long before we will see his name in the credits in a theatre near you.”

Stringfellow credits curiosity for initially leading him to participate in the editing competition. While researching his favorite film editors, he realized he didn’t know what the post-nominal letters “ACE” referenced after their names. From there he learned about the American Cinema Editors on the organization’s website, which promotes a yearly student competition. “I knew I just had to give it a shot,” he said.

The competition was a two-part process. First, Stringfellow had to apply and be one of the first 50 students accepted. After gaining an invitation, ACE then provided participants with a disk consisting of materials from a short film that ACE owns. The package consisted of dailies – daily raw footage shot during the production of a motion picture ­– stock sound effects, and a lined script. Students were charged with editing the entire piece and presenting it to the ACE judges.

If that request wasn’t difficult enough, Stringfellow and his fellow participants faced a tight deadline. It was approximately one month between receiving the package and the submission due date, “which is actually not as long as it sounds for a project like this,” Stringfellow explained. “I’m sure the time crunch was meant to challenge us.”

Stringfellow admitted agonizing about how to stand apart from 50 other applicants while utilizing the same material. The student editors were allowed to use additional music or sound effects since the piece wasn’t going to be made public. “In the end, I made some choices that I believe may have stood out to the judges,” he said.

Stringfellow’s fellow student nominees are Aneesa Mahboob of the University North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Johnny Sepulveda of Video Symphony, a post-production training facility in Burbank, California. The students will be the featured guests at a Nominee Cocktail Party prior to the Eddie Awards ceremony.