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And The Winner Is… SOTA Celebrates the Best of Public Access

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SOTA 2019. Photo by Dorothy Nienow

As Golden Globes are handed out and we creep closer to the Oscars, the folks at Rogue Valley Television, or RVTV, are all abuzz with awards season preparations. On February 8, the night before gold statues will be handed out in Hollywood, local creators from Ashland to Grants Pass will be honored with trophies of their own. The fourth annual Southern Oregon Television Awards are a “celebration of public access television in the Rogue Valley,” according to SOTA event mediator, Keegan Van Hook.

Van Hook says the show “follows the model of the Oscars.” This is generally confirmed by past broadcasts, found easily enough on Youtube. Significant differences include the fact that producers must self-nominate their programs, and previous winners don’t present the awards. That duty is handled by a charismatic emcee. 

This year there are 28 categories. Winners will be voted on by the nominees themselves. Past winners have included “The Southern Oregon News Network” for Best Comedy, “Ramping Up Your English” for Best Educational Program, “The Dark Goddess” for Best in Entertainment, and on and on. Each nominee gets a clip, and the winners give speeches full of gratitude and encouragement. Some nominees who couldn’t attend the show in the past have even left video recordings that played after they won.

Appropriately, every nominee must have aired at some point on RVTV in 2019. In fact, many producers will have multiple shows nominated. This year, however, there should be some more diverse competition due to a tweak in the rules. In contrast to previous years, student work and projects not just developed by RVTV producers are now eligible to be nominated.

SOTA 2020 Executive Producer David Nienow is hopeful that the rule change will encourage greater community participation in RVTV, particularly from Southern Oregon University’s growing film program. The awards themselves take place in the Digital Media Center’s studio on SOU’s campus – the same studio where a number of the nominated programs are filmed. After going through the producer class himself, Nienow is now the creator behind several RVTV programs. His empowerment if infectious when he declares, “Ashland is one of the best places in the country for filmmaking.”

For those who want in, the nomination process for this year is now closed. But not too late to start planning for the future? For $150 this summer, RVTV gives a producer training. The basics of cameras, lighting, sound, graphics, and video switching equipment are all covered, but the alternative is to grab the nearest camera and start shooting! Heck, the first movie ever shot entirely on an iPhone came out nearly five years ago now.

Speaking of next year, there may be big changes coming to the nature of the show itself. Van Hook says SOTA may be hosted outside the production studio next year. 

“The hope is that we will have built up enough traction and enough people will know about it and will be interested in it that next year we will be able to have the event at the Ashland Hills Hotel, so we can actually have an audience,” he says. The idea, he explains, is to open the show up to the public and sell tickets, making it more of a vehicle for fund-raising. Currently, funds are raised through sponsors (last year’s included Fred Meyer and Dairy Queen). Plus, if the idea is to celebrate the best in public access television, what better audience than the public themselves?

For now, though, those with television service through Ashland Home Net or Charter Spectrum, find the local public access channel on February 8 at 7 pm. 

Southern Oregon Television Awards
7 pm, Saturday, February 8

 

 

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