UTA Student Wins Statewide Film Competition for Proposed Texas Bullet Train

January 7, 2020


A video created by University of Texas at Arlington sophomore broadcast major Cecillia Nguyen won a statewide competition sponsored by Texas Central, the company proposing a high-speed passenger rail system to connect Dallas and Houston. Five other films created by UTA students were finalists in the competition.


Nguyen’s entry, entitled “Nguyener,” explores the benefits of a high-speed train for Texas. The highly edited music video featured some of the benefits with fast-paced graphics, and iconic scenes throughout Texas. The film won in the category of animation excellence.


“When I found out that I won the competition in my class, I was so happy to be around the people who supported me and gave me confidence throughout the competition,“ said Nguyen. “I'm so glad that all of my hard work and struggles I've overcome were worth it.”


Texas Central put out a call for university students in Texas along the train’s proposed route to produce original short films, 30 to 90 seconds in length, which answered the question, “What travel ‘Pain-Points’ will be eased by the Texas high-speed train?” The work could be animated, live action or a combination of the two. UTA submitted 13 entries.


Of the eight films that were named finalists in the competition, six came from UTA. As a prize for her winning submission, Nguyen will receive $5,000 and UTA’s Department of Communication will receive $2,000.


“I think this contest was a great opportunity for my students to challenge themselves, as well as explore what the bullet train has to offer Texas,” said LaDonna Aiken, broadcast specialist at UTA. Nguyen opted to enter the competition as a project in Aiken’s Introduction to Broadcast class, and Aiken served as her faculty adviser.

“Cecillia impressed me with her talent and determination from the start,” Aiken said. “She worked hard to refine her video by teaching herself new edit techniques and incorporating the details that made it stand out. I’m proud of all our finalists, because I saw first-hand the hours of work and care they put in to each video.” 


The videos were judged on social media and also by a panel of five industry experts, including Johnathan Brownlee, CEO - Dallas Film & Dallas International Film Festival, and Shezad Manjee, founder and creative director at DHD Films, among others.


For the Texas Central competition, while teams created many of the other entries in the competition, Nguyen worked on her own. “My experience creating this film was difficult being alone at times,” Nguyen said, “but working solo allowed me to push my creative limits. I incorporated footage from my past travel experiences in Texas to showcase places that make Texas unique.”


Nguyen plans to use her prize money to attend the Department of Communication’s study abroad program in Japan this summer. She said, “I've always loved travelling and I'm excited to see the bullet train in real life.”


Click here to view the announcement by Texas Central and

click here for the video.


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