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Pond5 Filmmaker-First Award Winners Announced


This past fall, Pond5 partnered with NYU Tisch film school to offer the inaugural Pond5 Filmmaker-First Awards, furthering our mission of serving creative communities, supporting emerging filmmakers, and inspiring the filmmakers of tomorrow.

To help these students complete their film projects, there were two levels of prizes awarded:

  • Two intermediate film students received $500 each toward their production budgets
  • Two advanced film students received $750 towards their production budgets as well as $500 in Pond5 credits

The winners were determined by a panel of professionals at Pond5 in late 2018, based on criteria that included preparation, story, vision, creativity, and originality. Of the dozens of film submissions, these four stood out as shining examples of the magical art of creative film storytelling. Here are the winners:

Advanced Winner: Zachary Visvikis & Austin Hall, “Molly Robber”

Advanced Winner: Zachary Visvikis & Austin Hall, “Molly Robber”
A selfish high school dropout in desperate need of cash plans to rob her molly dealer, but finds herself in a bind when her anime-obsessed stepbrother comes along for the ride.
Connect: @Austihall, @Unaffiliated_with_zach, @Mollyrobberfilm

“The film is very loosely based on a true story of two of Zach’s high school friends. That’s where it all started at least.”
“I got a call from a friend telling me about this insane story and I immediately told Austin and he loved it, so we spent a week in March writing and re-writing the initial draft of the script. We took the story and just ran with it, created two totally different characters, set it in a different town, and wrote something that was initially foreign to us and really transformed it into something personal. ‘Molly Robber’ is really about our relationships with our siblings and family and we’re really excited to get the opportunity to make it.”

Julian Alvarez, “Techno Scrap”

Advanced Winner: Julian Alvarez, “Techno Scrap”
When a robotic farmhand receives a hug for the first time, he develops an obsession with physical connection and begins to incorporate intimacy into his routine.
Connect: @julian_alvarez.jpg, @technoscrap, Techno Scrap Indigogo

“I think my path to filmmaking is a familiar story. I was first and foremost a fan of films. My sister introduced the original Star Wars trilogy to me when I was really young. I was hooked. From there I would spend free time watching films and reenacting scenes with my friends, or my lego figures. My parents were always supportive of creative outlets, and I would create little short films on iMovie featuring stop-motion animation, or cheesy special effects. The movie theater was a place of magic, and still to this day when the lights dim, I’m halfway through my popcorn, and the credits start I feel transported. It’s the closest thing to magic I’ve experienced, and it was really only a matter of time before I wanted to create that magic myself. I took a class called ‘creative camera’ in high school, and now I’m deep in pre-production on my thesis film. It all went by so fast, but I think that’s a good sign that I found the right passion.”

Intermediate Winner: Sarah Nocquet, “Open”

Intermediate Winner: Sarah Nocquet, “Open”
“Open” is a thriller about giving up one’s sense of self for one’s child, told through the story of one foreign pregnant woman in an absurdist, horrifying, conformist environment.

“The Pond5 award will be going towards my special effects. My team and I are creating several in-camera practical effects to bring the baby and the womb to life: our main effect involves casting a fetus in silicone, painting it, and putting it inside a fish tank to film the in-utero scenes. Several different materials are being employed to make the womb realistic… I can’t wait to see the impact these effects will have on an audience!”

Intermediate Winner: Michael Klubeck, “I-O”

Intermediate Winner: Michael Klubeck, “I-O”
A lonely man discovers A.I. technology that wants more than what he’s offering.
Connect: @mklu.shots

“I created the concept for ‘I-O’ after marathoning a bunch of science fiction films like ‘Blade Runner’ and ‘Ex Machina.’ The idea of humanistic A.I. fascinated me, but I wanted to go beyond the normal questions usually asked in films like this. I wanted it to feel more related to things most people go through; the longing for freedom but also the longing for love and companionship.”

Congratulations to all of our winners! For more information on the Pond5 Filmmaker-First Awards program, visit:

We look forward to continuing to work closely with NYU Tisch in Spring 2019 on more exciting initiatives.

Header image 1940S Vintage Film Home Movie by Pond5 artist tbmpvideo