BHS Alum Scott Faris Wins "Best Short Doc" Prize at South Dakota Film Festival

By Trina Runner on October 06, 2018 via

At one time, there were nine different rail lines converging in Aberdeen, South Dakota form all directions, giving it the nickname of the Hub City.  In September 2018, it served as a much different kind of hub as the best of the best in the film industry gathered for the 12thAnnual South Dakota Film Festival.  Bridgeport’s Scott Faris, along with his business partner Meg Griffiths, were among those being honored at the festival.
Last year, the duo launched Universe Creative, a video production company dedicated to social impact space.  One of their first clients was Teach for America, a national non-profit focused on teacher recruitment and leadership development.  Because Faris worked as a teacher for the organization, the project was a perfect fit.
Known for using their lens to tell stories, Faris and Griffiths sketched out a framework for the film’s narrative using conversations with current and former teachers in the program. The story was anchored around three Teach for America alumni whose lives were fundamentally altered by their experiences in South Dakota classrooms.  Each teacher has a different perspective that led them to a deeper calling. The duo spent eight days filming the project in Denver, Colorado and at various locations in and around the Pine Ridge and Rosebud Indian Reservations in South Dakota.
The film, “Our Tiospaye//Our Family,” was edited from over twenty hours of footage to an 11-minute short film, which was submitted to a handful of film festivals across the country. 
“We were proud of the story we’d told,” said Faris.  “We were also aware that content about specific brands does not always pay well on the festival circuit.”
Imagine their surprise when they were notified that the film not only had been accepted into the South Dakota Film Festival, but had been awarded the Best Dakota Short Doc prize by the festival jury.  Shortly after receiving that news, Faris and Griffiths also received notice of acceptance to the Tulsa American Film Festival.  
“Meg and I traveled to Aberdeen to the South Dakota Film Festival and had the opportunity to see our film screened in front of a live audience,” said Faris.  “We were elated to get to watch our work face-to-face with an audience and be able to answer questions afterward.”
Following their passion for showcasing positive change through storytelling, Faris and Griffiths’ Universe Creative seeks out projects that can deliver high quality video that inspires change. They have worked with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and strive to feature topics that evoke empathy and understanding, making connections through their work.
“It is so important to perpetuate positive narratives about America’s Native populations,” said Faris.  “As a teacher, I watched my fifth grade students, all of whom were Native, struggle to reconcile the negative stereotypes that exist about their culture.  I know that we can and must do better to empower children like mine with stories that affirm their identities and reflect their strengths.  I hope this film plays a small role in that larger imperative.”

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