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SOCO Student Media from Colorado State University Pueblo

The Today

SOCO Student Media from Colorado State University Pueblo

The Today

SOCO Student Media from Colorado State University Pueblo

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Pueblo Native Wins “Best Feature” in Local Film Festival

The+video+thumbnail+for+Young%E2%80%99s+documentary%2C+%E2%80%9CEurope+2022%3A+A+Moment+in+My+Life.%E2%80%9D+Photo+provided+by+Jerod+Young.
The video thumbnail for Young’s documentary, “Europe 2022: A Moment in My Life.” Photo provided by Jerod Young.
Jerod Young smiles at the camera on the red carpet after winning “Best Feature” at the 2023 SISFA Film Festival. Photo provided by Jerod Young.

Pueblo native Jerod Young won in the category “Best Feature” for his documentary film, “Europe 2022: A Moment in My Life,” at the recent 2023 StoryMode Independent Short Film Awards (SISFA).

The annual local film festival took place Oct. 20-21 at the Robert Hoag Rawlings Public Library and Colorado State University Pueblo’s Hoag Hall. Attendees were able to watch the nominated films over the weekend and experience the award show Saturday night. There was a red-carpet event for filmmakers and involved community members.

Young’s 70-minute film documented his experience traveling through eight countries in 32 days with his friends. The video was shot and edited entirely by Young. He came back from his travels with over 1 TB of footage, and he spent the next five months editing the film.

“I’ve worked on complicated projects before. I wouldn’t say this is the most complex, but it’s the lengthiest project I’ve ever worked on,” Young, 23, said. “While I was editing, I very much considered taking different paths, making separate videos out of it, or having different ways to distribute it because the process of editing was so brutal.”

During his backpacking trip, Young carried around 12 pounds of film equipment. He traveled with the least amount of gear possible to avoid over-packing. Most of the film was shot on a single camera body with a few different lenses, in addition to a few microphones. He also had a small drone, which made for some epic scenic shots of the numerous cities he saw.

Young was home-schooled through high school. It was during these four years where Young began making videos and posting them on YouTube. After he graduated in 2018, he attended Pueblo Community College and made a few commercials for them on the side.

After receiving his associate degree from PCC, his original plan was to then transfer to CSUP and gain his bachelor’s degree in media communications. However, he was discovered by a local marketing agency through his TikTok account, Wake Up Pueblo, and soon Young started working full time for them.

“After I got hired at the agency, my professional work increased a lot. I worked with some incredible clients, worked with some incredible people, and had some awesome jobs. I moved on from there at the end of 2021. And then all of 2022 I ran my own freelance business, so that involved contracting clients in Pueblo and Springs and making videos for people and business owners. In December of 2022, I was hired here (at CSU Pueblo) and have been here since,” Young said.

Young is the lead content creator for the university’s office of Marketing, Communications, and Community Relations.

Young heard about the SISFA Film Festival from a friend, and this was the only film festival he entered his Europe documentary into. He has received a few awards for short films he has created in the past, but Europe 2022 was his first feature-length film and now it is award-winning.

“Going into the awards, I really didn’t expect to win anything,” Young said. After being asked what he felt after hearing his name announced as the winner, he said, “I wasn’t surprised because I was proud of my work, but I was surprised because I wasn’t sure that my work fit into the category of what it was nominated for. My piece is very much a documentary and not like a narrative piece.”

However, after watching the other films that were in the feature category, they were also documentary-style films. Young’s film was the longest film in his category.

“I’m very thankful that it’s done and I’m very thankful that one day I’m able to pass it on and show my family, and my kids down the line,” Young said. “My dad traveled to Europe 30 years ago and brought back film photos and before I was going this year, he was showing me the film photos. I actually stayed in the same hostel he stayed in.”

Young started out completely self-taught and learned more through YouTube. Over the years, he has become more experienced and has learned skills from other people in town.

“The biggest goal in the next year of my life is that I want to grow my skillset. I’ve learned from working at the school that education is extremely important for my benefit. During the last year, I haven’t experienced a lot of growth, I’ve just been working a lot, and I haven’t really prioritized my own learning. I want to find some mentorship in the area or out of the area. I would say I’m well respected in the Pueblo market. When I take a step outside of the Pueblo market, the world’s just so big, there’s so much more opportunity, there’s so many experts in this field and in this industry that’s constantly evolving.”

While Young intends to position himself where he can have opportunities to grow, he also encourages anyone else interested in the film industry and creative industry to start now in producing content that is enjoyable to create, and not just producing videos that are required to create for work or for classes.

“My biggest piece of advice would be to start exactly where you are and then the second thing with that would be to get involved with the community and the town that you’re located in. Pueblo specifically has an incredible creative artistic community,” Young said.

Young’s film can be seen on his YouTube Channel, called Jrod Visuals. The title of the video on YouTube reads, “The Honest Truth of backpacking Europe at 22 | Award Winning Feature Documentary.”

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