On Thursday night, the annual Art Directors Club (ADC) Awards, now in its 95th year, witnessed a first — the top prize went to a film created by students. The animated short "Taking the Plunge" was awarded the ADC Black Cube for best-in-show at the ADC Gallery in New York. Other top honors went to Leo Burnett Worldwide, BBDO, R/GA and Dentsu.
"Taking the Plunge" was created by computer art, animation and visual-effect sstudents from the School of Visual Arts (SVA) in New York. It took 10 months for students Thaddaeus Andreades, Marie Raoult, Nicholas Manfredi and Elizabeth Ku-Herrero to create the fully animated film under the direction of project coordinator Laura Nitz and with help from professor Joe Burrascano.
Full of deep purples and bright blues, the 6:41 film is a story about a botched marriage proposal. A man preparing to surprise his girlfriend accidently drops his ring into the sea. He dives in after it and, with the help of a little octopus friend, finally delivers the perfect proposal, ring or no ring.
"It’s a huge honor," said Elizabeth Ku-Herrero, the student who came up with the idea of the marriage proposal, "We’ve been blown away by the success of the film. To hear that it was the first student film to win was mind-blowing."
Taking the Plunge
The work also received an ADC Gold Cube in Motion Animation, along with a slew of other recent awards. The film took "Best Animation" at the Student Emmys, "Best Animated Short" at the Garden State Film Festival and "Platinum Best Digital Short Animation" at the CA It awards, among others.
"People connect to the characters in the story because everyone has had something that was planned go wrong," said now-graduated Nicholas Manfredi.
According to Manfredi, the group of students’ broke down the elements of films they loved, drawing inspiration from Disney films such as "Tangled" and "How to Train Your Dragon." The students also created "reference scenes," acting out scenes they wanted for the piece before animating.
In March, the group posted a video to the film’s Facebook page showing the process of creating the animation:
"‘Taking the Plunge' presents a confluence of extraordinary skill, thoughtfulness, story, heart and dedication brought to life at the very beginning of some young careers," said Rama Allen, executive creative director of The Mill and chair of the ADC 95th Annual Awards Motion jury. "We would have applauded the remarkable craftsmanship of this piece regardless of how much experience lay behind it, but we felt the rare early talent we saw deserved to be recognized with a commensurate honor. We congratulate the SVA team for some damn good filmmaking that made us laugh, exclaim and even feel a little bit jealous."
SVA became the biggest winner of the night, and was awarded the "School of the Year Award." Overall, students claimed 17 awards — one Black Cube, four Gold, two Silver, six Bronze and four Merit.
Winners at the ADC 95th Annual Awards represented 25 countries, and many non-student agencies took home top honors. Leo Burnett Worldwide won "Network of the Year," BBDO New York won "Advertising Agency of the Year," R/GA won "Digital Agency of the Year," and Dentsu won "Design Agency of the Year."
Leo Burnett Madrid, Leo Burnett Melbourne, The Martin Agency and Venables Bell & Partners each won two Gold Cubes. Also noteworthy, Googby Silverstein & Partners earned a Gold and five other Cubes.
The complete list of award winners can be viewed online.