Southeastern Channel student productions earn Emmy awards

Southeastern Channel Emmy winners pose in the studio.

Southeastern Channel students were honored with Emmy Awards by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences’ Suncoast Region. Pictured are Southeastern Channel General Manager Rick Settoon, Erika Ferrando of Mandeville, Nick Brilleaux of Hammond, Nick Authement of Mandeville, Scott Caro of Mandeville and Kaitlyn Morales of Covington. Courtesy of Public Information. 

Students from the Southeastern Channel learned their hard work paid off as they were awarded the highest honor one could receive in television, Emmy awards.   

Nick Brilleaux and Scott Caro’s documentary on the infamous Celebration of Life festival titled “McCrea 1971: Louisiana’s Forgotten Rock Festival” and Nick Authement’s music video, “The Riddle,” both won Emmys in the Photography category. 

“The Emmy is the most difficult award to win, so it’s a tremendous honor for the Southeastern Channel to once again be recognized at the top of college television. We’re ecstatic that Nick Authement, Nick Brilleaux and Scott Caro are joining an elite group with this highest reward for their talent, creativity and hard work.  This is well-deserved recognition for their vision, dedication and perseverance,” said Southeastern Channel General Manager Rick Settoon. 

In order to receive an Emmy, productions must first receive an Emmy-quality rating for content, creativity and execution. Then a production will go through rounds of judging based on the Emmy standards of excellence. 

“An Emmy is the purest form of achieving excellence,” said Settoon. “That’s why it’s the highest award and one that commands the ultimate in prestige and respect. The Emmy is so hard to achieve that to just receive an Emmy nomination is considered winning.” 

Emmy Award-winner and recent Southeastern graduate Nick Brilleaux was born outside of London, England, but grew up in Hammond. He started making videos when he was 11, but his hobby turned into something more once he was hired as a student worker for the Southeastern Channel in 2006. After three years working with the channel, he began directing and editing. 

“I sort of stumbled upon the story of the Celebration of Life and was pleasantly surprised to find that it had received very little attention outside of the world of online message boards,” said Brilleaux. “I recruited the help of Scott Caro, a fellow graduate student, for his knowledge of the history of the era. We co-directed the film together, interviewing several subjects and researching for about nine months.” 

The Celebration of Life Festival was held in June of 1971 between a levee and the Atchafalaya River in Point Coupee Parish. The concert was planned to be eight days long, but due to poor weather and recent arrests, it was cut short. 

Brilleaux and Caro tried to capture the experiences and memories of the ill-fated festival.

“The film deals with some of the legal trouble the festival promoters dealt with in organizing such a large event in such a remote and socially conservative locale.  It also documents the experiences of people who worked the festival, who attended and who lived nearby,” said Caro.

Brilleaux and Caro plan to make additions to the documentary. 

“Scott Caro and I recently completed an updated ‘directors’ cut of the film, which includes some video footage of the festival, [and are currently] working on getting a distribution deal that would allow the documentary to be seen by a national audience,” said Brilleaux.

Settoon praised the visual style of the documentary. 

“Nick Brilleaux, Scott Caro and Nick Authement each had an inspired artistic vision for the style and direction of the cinematography in their productions,” said Settoon. “They combined the natural cinematic palette provided by their shooting locations with the technical skills, aesthetics and visual techniques they learned and honed at the Southeastern Channel to provide a rich visual experience for the audience.”

In addition to the Channel winning Emmys, the Southeastern Channel also had two Emmy honorable mention winners.  

Erika Ferrando’s story “Improved Levees,” which discussed how the levees failed during Hurricane Katrina and have since been improved, won an Emmy honorable mention in the serious news category. In addition, Kaitlyn Morales also won honorable mention in the writing category for her story, “Causeway Safety.”

Northshore News anchor-reporter Erika Ferrando is from Mandeville, LA. She started broadcasting at KSLU as a student worker and then later started working at the Southeastern Channel, where she discovered her passion for television journalism. She recently graduated from Southeastern and will be starting her first job in the field as a reporter for KPLC-TV in Lake Charles. 

In the last decade, the Southeastern Channel has won 11 Emmys and has had 41 Emmy nominations, which is far more than any other university in the southern United States. They are also the only college television station in Louisiana history to have won an Emmy and the only university to have Emmys awarded to students. 

“The Emmy is the most difficult award to win so it’s a tremendous honor for the Southeastern Channel to once again be recognized at the top of college television,” said Settoon. “Along with the students who won, great credit should go to Southeastern Channel staff members and Department of Languages and Communication faculty who instruct, mentor and train each student in television production on a daily basis.”