Emerson prepares for 26th annual EVVYs

It sounded for all intents and purposes like a typical college party, except for a few details: it was the Bill Bordy Theater, and projected onto a large screen at the front of the room was a presentation with the words “Find Yourself in the EVVY Awards.,It was past 10 p.m. on a recent Thursday and people crowded around chairs and tables, clustered in various groups, chatting loudly over strains of rap and pop music.

It sounded for all intents and purposes like a typical college party, except for a few details: it was the Bill Bordy Theater, and projected onto a large screen at the front of the room was a presentation with the words “Find Yourself in the EVVY Awards.”

It was the last general meeting for the almost 200 people involved in the EVVYs.

The EVVY Awards is Emerson’s show to honor and acknowledge talented students in various disciplines. A wide range of majors are allowed to submit; film, TV, journalism, audio and marketing majors may have their work reviewed and judged by industry professionals. That is the EVVYs’ specialty, and one of the reasons why it is the largest student-run awards show in the nation; every submitted piece is meticulously copied and sent to industry professionals like Rachel Dratch of “Saturday Night Live”, who reviewed last year’s screenwriting entries.

The EVVY Awards were created in 1981 to allow Emerson students to showcase their work to the people they will be working for before they even graduate. Initially, it was restricted to only television and video students, but the categories have since widened to include almost any major at Emerson, with new categories appearing every year.

Three to four industry professionals in each field, such as producers, screenwriters or directors, will receive a copy of the submitted work and then review it, making the decision of who should be nominated and ultimately who will win a little Lucite EVVY trophy.

The EVVY team incorporates far more than just the trophies and posh location. They also film roll-in video packages to congratulate winners, recruiting big names this year, like the cast of ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy”, Zach Braff, the cast of “Scrubs”, and even some comedians like Joe Rogan.

“It’s something that the show does every year,” said Marissa Rosado, a sophomore TV/video major who will be the technical director of the evening show. “There are a few structural traditions,” she added, referring to the dance team that performs at the every year. Emerson’s a cappella group Noteworthy performed last year, and in 2004, members of the Musical Theatre Society also lent their talent.

Other traditions are in place to involve freshmen and first-timers in the process. One such event is Dub Night, where the members of the EVVYs spend an entire night receiving and copying the year’s submissions so they can be sent to the industry professionals who will judge them.

“Dub Night is really an important time for us because it brings our younger members in and connects them with the older members and gives them people to look up to,” said Adam Salamone, a junior writing, literature and publishing major and one of the executive producers for this year’s EVVYs. “I think it’s my favorite, and it’s the most important, because it helps us get the show going.”

Students go to New York City to film the roll-ins every year. Other groups are assigned to certain tasks, such as marketing, contacting the judges and post-production.

Every Thursday the entire group including crew members, meets to discuss their progress. Occasionally, the meetings will feature guest speakers such as Aaron Ryder, producer of Memento and Donnie Darko.

The amount of hours everyone puts into the show is incredible, but there is certainly a benefit to being involved with this kind of production. Many successful Emerson alumni worked on the EVVYs during their time at school. According to Sarah McCulley, a freshman film major and personal assistant to one of the executive producers, working on the EVVYs is a way to get noticed in the industry.

“You can go out to L.A. and be wearing something with EVVYs on it,” she said, “and you’ll get stopped by people saying ‘oh, I worked on the EVVYs too.'”

Sometimes judges will not declare a winner in certain categories if they do not think the work is up to par. According to Salamone, that problem worsened last year due to the fact that it was the EVVYs’ 25th anniversary, and they were flooded with submissions, sometimes up to 50 in each category, which made it hard for the judges to make a fair decision.

“I think we’ve raised the level of submissions this year, and I am happy with it,” said Salamone.

But even with slight hitches along the way, the EVVYs crew said it will achieve its ultimate goal of putting on an excellent show and helping students prepare for the real world by exposing them to professional standards.

“The EVVY awards is meant to showcase talented student work and give us a connection to people who actually work in the industry,” Rosado said. She emphasized a side of the EVVYs of which many people are not aware. Besides hosting and planning fundraisers to pay for the event itself, the organization also contributes actively to community and charity events.

“We’re also about community service, which a lot of people don’t realize,” Rosado said, “and we’re really trying to publicize that fact, that we do other things besides put on an amazing show at the end of the year.” This year, EVVYs members participated in a walk for breast cancer and cleaned up trash from alongside the Charles River.

Tonight is nominee night, when the contenders for each category will be officially announced.

There are 16 days left until the awards show, which means that the entire team will be working in overdrive to get everything prepared.

They have three shows to polish, the usual ones at 2 and 6 p.m., and a newly added red carpet show in between.

Tickets are on sale now online, by phone and at the Majestic box office for $20 per show, but combination tickets for both shows and the red carpet event can be bought for $30.

The 26th annual EVVY awards will take place on May 12 in the Majestic Theatre on Tremont Street at 2 and 6 p.m.