Student-Created Web Series Wins Top Awards

'To Live & Die in Opa Humpka' receives top honors at LA WebFest.

Coral Gables (May 06, 2013) — School of Communication Cinema and Interactive Media students won top awards at the 2013 LA WebFest, held March 28-31 in Los Angeles. To Live & Die in Opa Humpka, a Web series developed and produced by School of Communication students and Lisa Gottlieb, an associate professor in the Department of Cinema and Interactive Media, won awards for “Best Comedy Series” and “Best Writing.”

To Live & Die in Opa Humpka is a comedic Web series about the fictional town of Opa Humpka, Florida, “the python and foot fungus capitol of the world.” The series takes place during the local election season, with the race for Wildlife Termination Executive heating up. It follows the humorous escapades of campaign interns working for the candidates.

“I’m so proud of Opa Humpka,” said Noah Debonis, a graduate student in cinema who directed an episode. “The crew and Professor Gottlieb put a ton of work into the series. Working on this project was a real glimpse into what it is like to work on an actual TV series.”

Gottlieb, the executive producer of the series, is thrilled by the success and critical acclaim the series has garnered. She teaches a Web series class each semester.

“I designed the Web series class for our most advanced and ambitious directors, actors, crews, producers, editors, and writers,” said Gottlieb, who directed the 1980s teen classic film, Just One of the Guys, and who continues to work in film. “Attaining a highly professional cinematic result on an efficiently run set is our goal.”

Attendees of LA WebFest noted the quality of the series’ writing and production. Gottlieb and recent graduate Sammy Courtwright represented Opa Humpka at the festival. “The festival awards are gratifying,” Gottlieb added. “If you make polished and dynamic work, audiences and festival juries respond.”

Lisette Vilarchao, a recent graduate who produced the series and directed the third episode, said she was humbled and grateful for the opportunity to work on the project. “To earn recognition is fantastic,” she said.

The Web series class is working on new projects.

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A scene from To Live & Die in Opa Humpka. Cinema and Interactive Media students produced the series, which won “Best Comedy Series” at the LA WebFest.

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