Senior digital film major Mariah Zenk won the American Cinema Editors (ACE) Student Editing Competition last week after being selected as a top three finalist.
As a finalist, Zenk was invited to the ACE Eddie Awards in Beverly Hills on Jan. 26.
In California, she met Missouri State University alumnus Byron Smith, who won the same award while attending the American Film Institute. Zenk also interacted with top names in the film editing industry.
“Many of the people who approached me were from Missouri or had family here,” Zenk said. “Meeting these people who grew up in the Midwest, who have been successful in other places, made me feel much more confident.”
She was announced as the winner during the awards ceremony.
Journey to the red carpet
Getting to the final stage of competition wasn’t expected or easy for Zenk. Her entry was up against larger schools with a reputation for winning.
“I did my best, but I wasn’t sure if it was good enough,” Zenk said.
The competition required entrants to download a set of dailies — unedited footage from a well-known TV show — and use it to create a 60-second scene.
Despite her doubts, Zenk received a phone call on the first day of spring 2018 classes informing her that she had been chosen as a finalist. She was surprised.
“When I played the voicemail, I immediately ran straight into my roommate’s bedroom and scared her half to death,” she said.
The MSU difference
Zenk credits much of her success to the media, journalism and film (MJF) department at MSU.
“People within the department have given me so many opportunities I wouldn’t have had elsewhere,” Zenk said.
She shares the love she has for her professors and her MJF family.
“Seeing at least one other person succeed always makes me feel like we’ve all made it,” Zenk said.