TROY design students win 16 awards at annual film festival

The YellowHammer Film Festival is hosted annual by Troy University.

The YellowHammer Film Festival is hosted annual by Troy University.

Troy University’s third annual YellowHammer Film Festival held Friday featured presentations from professional and student filmmakers and animators from around the country, concluding in a keynote speech, a four-hour film showcase and an awards ceremony where nine TROY students took home 16 awards.

Associate Professor of Design Chris Stagl began the festival in 2021 as a way to allow students from around the country to showcase their work. Since then, the festival has taken on a life of its own and has featured presentations from professionals from Netflix, UCF, NBA and more.

“This year we were incredibly lucky to have two presenters who were a big part of Academy Award Winning films, Chassidy Jade, our keynote speaker, who was the Assistant Editor of ‘Everything Everywhere All At Once,’ and Ty Primosch who was an animator on Netflix’s ‘Nimona,’” Stagl said. “Every year the festival seems to be getting bigger and better, and this year we received 416 entries from over 130 high schools and colleges around the country, twice as many as previous years.”

In 2021, TROY students won one award. In 2022, the number increased to seven. This year, TROY competitors brought home 16 awards.

“It’s hard to ignore the successes and strides our students are making in video and motion as we’re competing with some of the best film and animation schools in the country,” Stagl said.

Senior student Nathan Hobbs won in the categories for Best Sounds Design and Best Concept Development and placed as honorable mention in Visual Effects. Hobbs and Collin Hardin also won in Visual Effects and Best Film of the Year.

“I couldn’t be prouder of being a co-director with Collin Hardin on ‘Welcome Home,’” Hobbs said. “We made this entire film in one week at TROY’s Summer Spotlight and ended up submitting it to the College division—we had no idea it would be this well received by the judges.”

Reanna Thompson and her parents
TROY student Reanna Thompson and her parents.

Additionally, Hardin and Hobbs’ “Welcome Home” won the prestigious YellowHammer Award.

“I would like to thank the folks over at Summer Spotlight for giving us a platform to find new friends and collaborate with old ones,” Hardin said. “We came together to create an absolute banger of a short film that I’m very proud of and I look forward to seeing the opportunities that winning the YellowHammer can now offer us.”

Emily Cousins, along with Laura Phelps, also placed as honorable mention in the Commercials category for their “Adobe” commercial series.

“I feel honored to have won an honorable mention for my Adobe commercial series!” Cousins said. “It was an Incredible opportunity to have my work shown alongside other amazingly creative videos and am so thankful to the YellowHammer Film Festival for the opportunity to have my work shown and judged.”

The YellowHammer Film Festival was made possible by a grant funded by the Alabama State Council on the Arts and a generous donation from The Alabama Film Office. Other sponsors include, Vision Studios, Rokinon, GlideGear, and Tilta, The American Advertising Federation Montgomery & Dothan, Push Crank Press, Stamp Ideas, 1st Place Trophies and Troy University.

A complete list of TROY students awards is below. To view a comprehensive list of all winners, visit

  • Nathan Hobbs, “Rest”
    Best Sound Design
  • Reanna Thompson, “Day and Night”
    Best Supporting Actress
  • Zack Pappanastos and Howard Purvee, “Day and Night”
    Best Cinematography 
  • Collin Jason Hardin, Nathan Hobbs, “Welcome Home”
    Best VFX
  • Collin Jason Hardin, Nathan Hobbs, “Welcome Home”
    Best Film of the Year
  • Howard Purvee, “Cain”
    Best Poster
  • Nathan Hobbs, “Cain”
    Best Concept Development
  • Christian Bens, “Unsteady”
    Best Music Video
  • Collin Jason Hardin, Nathan Hobbs, “Welcome Home”
    The YellowHammer Award
  • Nathan Hobbs, “Cain”
    Honorable Mention—VFX 
  • Zack Pappanastos, “Paranoia”
    First Time Filmmaker Award
  • Zack Pappanastos, “Paranoia”
    Honorable Mention—Poster
  • Andrew Hobbs, “Welcome Home”
    Honorable Mention—Sound Design
  • Reanna Thompson, “Day and Night”
    Honorable Mention—Concept Development
  • Zack Pappanastos, “Cookies Commercial”
    Honorable Mention—Editing
  • Emily Cousins and Laura Phelps, “Adobe Commercial Series”
    Honorable Mention—Commercial