UCR Alumnus Jared Nelson Wins Unique Short Film Competition

Director wins $5,000 and the opportunity to walk the red carpet in New York premiere in Canon's "Project Imaginat10n" contest

robot and person

Director Jared Nelson, a 2013 graduate of UCR, makes a cameo in his award-winning short film "Chucked." Nelson's film was one of five grand prize winners in the Canon "Project Imagniat10n" contest.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. — Filmmaker and UC Riverside alumnus Jared Nelson’s short film “Chucked”  has been named one of five grand prize winners in the “Project Imaginat10n” film festival, sponsored by Canon and judged by director Ron Howard and actress/director Bryce Dallas Howard.

Nelson, 23-year-old native of Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. and a 2013 graduate of UCR with a bachelor’s degree in theater and sub-track in film making, won $5,000 and will have the opportunity to attend the premiere of the winning short films under the title “A Ron Howard Presentation,” in October, walking the red carpet with celebrity participants Eva Longoria, Jamie Foxx, Biz Stone, Georgina Chapman and James Murphy.

“Chucked” tells the story of a robot statue at a book store who falls in love with a girl. As part of the challenge, Nelson’s film had to incorporate images and themes inspired by 10 crowdsourced images that were submitted as part of a related contest. What’s more, the film had to be made using a Canon camera and cost less than $400 to make.

“The guidelines were nothing short of impossible- if you’re a literal person- which unfortunately at times I am,” Nelson said. “I wrote five or six different scripts trying to match all different photos in to the story. It was difficult to look at 10 of them lying side-by-side, trying to understand how they relate and how they’re going to come to fruition in the script. The tones, colors and ‘messages’ of each are so extremely different.”

For example, the bookstore setting and the look of Chuck, the robotic protagonist, come directly from two of the photos, as did the covers of many of the fictional books that the Chuck’s love interest discusses with him.

But above and beyond the contest, telling the story of Chuck was a personal one for Nelson.

“Chuck is in many ways me,” he said. “I wanted to show how it feels to love someone who barely cares that you exist and the heartbreak and hope that follows. Chuck was 100% created from and for personal experience.”

The film, whose cast included UCR grad Devon Wilczynski as Chuck’s love interest, and current student Allison Molnaa as ‘new girl’,  was filmed in just one day at the Downtowne Bookstore in Riverside, Calif. Nelson said his uncle built the robot from scratch for less than $100.

“I couldn’t have made ‘Chucked’ without strong support from the crew and cast that did come through and help work out ideas with me,” he said.

Nelson also credited several UCR faculty members as inspirations.

“I’d like to give thanks to Theatre Department professors Root Park, Chuck Evered, Stu Krieger, Eric Barr, Tiffany Lopez and Rickerby Hinds for being great, caring individuals, placing no restrictions on my mind and living up to their professional titles,” he said.

While a student at UCR, Jared was always one of our most dedicated and hardest working filmmakers and it’s very gratifying for all of us who had him in class to see his efforts being rewarded as he makes his way in the real world of Hollywood enterprise,” Krieger said.

This isn’t Nelson’s first contest win. In 2012, he was a semi-finalist for the Student Academy Awards and won the 2012 Boise State Film Festival for his short film, “Paint Me An Expression.” But he is looking forward to the opportunity to go to New York and pick the brain of Howard, a two-time Academy Award-winning director.

“I am going to let ‘Chucked’ speak for itself, but I see the importance and opportunity to capitalize on this moment,” he said. “I am going to network, but most importantly I am going to enjoy the experience.”

Media Contact


Tel: (951) 827-2495
E-mail: kris.lovekin@ucr.edu
Twitter: krislovekin

Additional Contacts

Jared Nelson, director
E-mail: filmmaker@jaredznelson.com

Courtney Engel, Grey Alliance
Tel: (212) 546-2372
E-mail: cengel@grey.com

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