Adjust the lights, get a good angle and deliver the perfect line. Cut. Okay, let’s do it again.
Many students wish to capture the perfect moment, especially in their last semester of college. However, they only get one shot.
Preston Neill had the opportunity to do just that on Jan. 24 when he hosted the Javelina Oscars. Not only did he produce the show, but he also proposed to his girlfriend.
“As the moment came and I accidentally looked at her, my heart pumped so fast and I couldn’t hear a thing. Suddenly, what I rehearsed was lost,” said Preston Neill, communications major at Texas A&M University – Kingsville (TAMUK).
It started with low quality video on a camera. That sparked Neill’s passion for film.
“I am constantly inspired,” Neill said. “Every time I am driving and see something really pretty and I have to take out my phone and record it.”
In high school, Neill was part of the film group KnightsOfTheEndTable where he approached film as something he could have fun with.
It was not until his senior year where he was decided to take it more seriously.
“I got more motivation to do it when I met Richard (Almaraz) in English 1301 and that was back in 2011,” Neill said. “Thing just kind of took off.”
In college, Neill formed a new film group named Certain Reelity. It is composed of 14 members that contribute with acting, writing and directing.
“I’ve been enjoying working with him in Certain Reelity. It’s been a constructive working relationship for both of us I’m sure,” said Almaraz, English and history major.
He likes to direct, however, he still enjoys working in front of the camera and the editing process. Neill said he loses himself while editing until he notices it is late and calls it a night.
He claims to be more proud of the things he does.
“Because I am happy doing it, I am getting a lot better at doing it and having a lot of fun doing it and I know a lot more about what I am doing,” Neill said.
Neill grouped Certain Reelity Studios and TAMUK’s Campus Activities Board and created the Javelina Oscars.
The Javelina Oscars was an event that allowed students and alumni of TAMUK to compete against each other with their films.
“I wanted to do something grand my last semester here,” Neill said.
It was a combination of several ideas that inspired Neill to come up with an event but the main reason was a proposal.
Ever since he was getting serious in the relationship with his girlfriend, they would play around talking about getting engaged.
“She would say a few things like, ‘I want to have my hair done, nails done and I want my friends there,” said Neill. “’And it has to be videotaped with pictures taken.’”
Neill said he was not planning on proposing in a simple way.
Instead of having her being the only one dressed up, Neill wanted everyone to be dressed up and have it on video and on pictures. Adding together his passion in life and the love of his life, he thought a campus-wide event would be perfect.
As short films were showcased and awards were announced, one of Neill’s most important lines of his life was approaching.
“I knew he was planning this event since last semester so I was extremely excited when the day finally came,” said Alexandria Willars, communications speech major with an emphasis on RTV. “When the awards ceremony began, I was sitting in my seat secretly celebrating the success of all of Preston’s hard work.”
With a shaky voice and dry throat, Neill kneeled in front of her and proposed in front the crowd.
“When he pulled out the black box, I lost my breath. I couldn’t wrap my head around what was going on in that moment,” Willars said. “I couldn’t get myself to speak my response so all I did was nod my head saying yes.”
Neill planned to do something grand during his last semester in college. He was able to propose to his fiancée and start a new film event that arrived at a great time to introduce something new.
“The new film minor gives our students more choices to pick from as they decide on a career,” said Dr. Manuel Flores, chair of the Art, Communications and Theatre Department.
TAMUK will be offering a film minor to future students.
“It would be awesome to have the Javelina Oscars keep going on because it’s like a little legacy that I left behind,” Neill said.
Neill was asked to host the Javelina Oscars next year.