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Sunday June 20th

UNC senior's film about gay Trump supporters wins Pitch Fest at RiverRun festival

Aaron Lovett, a senior documentary producer, sits in the Swain Hall Media Lab. Lovett won the Pitchfest award at the RiverRun Film Festival in Winston Salem.
Buy Photos Aaron Lovett, a senior documentary producer, sits in the Swain Hall Media Lab. Lovett won the Pitchfest award at the RiverRun Film Festival in Winston Salem.

For three years, RiverRun has hosted an event called Pitch Fest where promising student filmmakers present their film ideas to a panel of jurors.

The film, which is also Lovett’s senior thesis, follows the story of a gay couple­ — Peter Boykin and David Smith from Greensboro, North Carolina — as they campaign for President Donald Trump.

Lovett’s adviser, Julia Haslett, assistant professor of media production, said Lovett worked incredibly hard to paint an accurate picture of the subjects.

“Aaron started video-taping them at different pride events, but also Trump rallies, various other places and in their homes,” she said. “He got more involved as he was connecting with these particular individuals.”

Lovett said he hopes his work can help people on both sides of the political spectrum better empathize with LGBTQ individuals who voted for Trump.

“I think it could be helpful for just trying to achieve some amount of, if not agreeing, maybe some amount of understanding for motivations, for people’s life paths that kind of lead them to certain choices,” he said.

Jeremy Workman, who served as one of the jurors at Pitch Fest, said he was extremely impressed with the quality of Lovett’s film.

“I think that was interesting to us, that here a student was pitching this, but we didn’t feel like it was a student film, whereas maybe the other pitches felt like student films,” he said. “They were great student films or student projects, but Aaron’s was the one that didn’t feel like a student film — it felt like something that was amongst professional documentary filmmakers.”

Haslett said she was excited to see Lovett’s work move beyond the classroom and hopes other communications students can follow his example in the future.

“I am excited for our students to continue to really push themselves to get their work out there into the world,” she said.

Lovett said his goal is to turn this film into more than just an senior honors thesis. He said he wants the film to be more widely circulated in the film community and beyond so it can make an even bigger impact.

“The goal is either getting it on the festival circuit or getting it published somewhere online,” he said.

“I’m definitely anticipating on being able to start submitting it places by the beginning of June.”

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