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SVC students’ documentary “Don’t Count Us Out” wins Gold Viddy Award

SVC students’ documentary “Don’t Count Us Out” wins Gold Viddy Award

by Public Relations | January 22, 2024

LATROBE, PA — Kieran Rapp C 24 and Brennan Valladares C'23 didn’t know what to expect when they began making their documentary, “Don’t Count Us Out” — a behind-the-scenes look at the Saint Vincent women’s basketball team during the 2022-23 season — as their final project for Mr. David Safin’s documentary production class.Kieran Rapp (left) and Brennan Valladares

The assignment was to produce a five-minute video. Rapp and Valladares turned in a 31-minute masterpiece. The movie earned more than just a passing grade. “Don’t Count Us Out” recently won a Gold Viddy Award and was selected for inclusion in the College Filmmakers Festival.

The Viddy Awards honor excellence in all aspects of video production and are administered and judged by the Association of Marketing and Communications Professionals. Over the years, the competition has attracted tens of thousands of entries from more than 100 countries, making it one of the largest competitions in the history of film and video. Entrants include video production companies, advertising and public relations firms, corporate communication departments, cable and broadcast television operations, government agencies and schools, and independent producers.

The two filmmakers and the women’s basketball team;

When Kieran and I set out to make this documentary, we just wanted to have fun and tell an interesting story,” Valladares said. “When I rewatched it by myself about two months [after it was done], I was really proud of what we did. I was surprised that we could make something to compete for an award, but when the time came, the support we had received and the confidence we had in our work validated my feelings about winning. We earned it.”

Mr. Safin was not surprised to see his students won the Viddy Award. “This is among the best assignments I've ever received,” said Safin, department chair of Visual Arts and Media Design. “I've been doing this 20-plus years, and there are only a handful that are like, ‘Wow, this is gonna last a long time.’ This is one of them.”

 The Gold Viddy Award

Rapp and Valladares became friends as classmates at Pittsburgh Central Catholic High School, and are former high school athletes and long-time sports fans. Rapp said they chose to chronicle the team because women’s basketball — and women’s sports in general — often are overlooked. “We thought their story was so compelling because of how family oriented [the players] are,” Rapp said. “Their story deserved to be shared.”

The two filmmakers spent time around the team during practices and games practically every day for three months. “The hardest part was getting over the awkwardness of filming the team,” Valladares said. “It felt weird and distracting to bring cameras and mics into a practice, but the players and coaching staff were very receptive to our idea.”

Valladares and Rapp were able to film courtside and in the locker room, and caught all the raw emotion of a season that led to a Presidents’ Athletic Conference championship and a berth in the NCAA Division III tournament.

“Don’t Count Us Out” movie poster

“Going in, we really didn't know what we were gonna get out of it,” Rapp said. “We were like, ‘Let's just tell a compelling story through sports.’ It was a director's dream that the team ended up winning. It was pretty amazing, actually.”

To set their film apart, Rapp and Valladares used multiple cameras while interviewing the players and coaches. The filmmakers also used different kinds of screen shots — full-screen, cinematic, the standard 4:3 aspect ratio, and even archived game film contributed by Grove City College  — to give the impression a “scrapbook” effect.

“There was a sense of freedom doing this,” Rapp said. “In the beginning, it didn't look beautiful. We were like, ‘Uh, I don't really know how this is gonna work.’ But it ended up coming together because we embraced a lot of styles.”