For Reid Nicewonder, the movie world holds promise – and prizes. Nicewonder, 22, is a Bristol, Va., native, who graduated from Baylor School in Chattanooga, Tenn., in 2005.

Most recently, he’s studied film – and how to make movies – at the University of Central Florida (UCF) in Orlando, Fla.

He’s also been making movies that have attracted attention.

Last February, a group of UCF film students – including Nicewonder – created a short film titled “Love Awkwardly” for the world’s largest student film festival, Campus MovieFest. All for free, Campus MovieFest gives students from around the country all the equipment they need in order to create a five-minute film in only one week.

The movie’s plot: A man distressed by an awkward life, attempts to score a date with a woman he was forced to fire.

The short went on to win best picture at the UCF finale, and, a month later, after competing against the best 60 films from four states, the film received the award for best comedy at the Southern Regional Grand Finale in Atlanta, Ga.

With this honor, the film will be shown at the Cannes Film Festival Short Film Corner in May. Next, the film will be entered into the International Grand Finale, taking place at the Wynn hotel in Las Vegas, Nev., in June.

For Nicewonder, seeing success – like this – culminates a lifelong passion. Nicewonder started making movies at age 9.

“I always loved to play with my dad’s video camera when I was young,” Nicewonder said. “I would shoot short, unedited videos and show them to friends and family. When I was in high school, I started to learn a lot more about editing, and I just haven’t looked back ever since.”

Nicewonder credits his college experience with learning how to make movies.

“In school, I would learn about story and theory, but where I really learned the most was working on sets,” he said. “Sophomore year, I was invited to one of my friend’s roommate’s film set and, the next thing I knew, I was on a few film sets every month. I just couldn’t get enough.”

With experience, Nicewonder gradually worked up the ranks and ultimately found himself working as the director of photography.

“There,” he said, “I was in control of the camera and how the movie was shot. But what I liked the most was just working with great people and friends – doing something we all loved to do.”

The filmmakers of “Love Awkwardly” include senior and graduate film students Reid Nicewonder (director), Addison Bryan (producer), Cris Mertens (editor, actor), Danny Bellini (actor), Misty Stinnett (actress), Josh Ingle (actor) and Kelly Applegate (actress).

“My ultimate goal,” Nicewonder said, “is to direct feature films, which I’m planning on doing this summer for the first time.”

Source: Bristol Herald Courier by Joe Tennis, Features Writer; Promise and prizes: Bristol native receives attention for movie; Published: April 18, 2010