Editing student's focus on female storytelling earns her a $10,000 Nikon scholarship

It was a normal day last summer when rising fourth-year film student Laura-Ellen “Lolly” Adair received the news from Nikon that she was selected as a Nikon Storytellers Scholarship recipient. “I remember answering the phone call while sitting at my internship with South Carolina ETV,” says Adair. She then made a series of phone calls to share the news with her family and friends that she received a $10,000 scholarship.

Adair, who studies picture editing and sound design, was selected as one of ten students from universities across the country as a scholarship recipient from Nikon, who hopes that the funds “support their growth as creators and celebrate their commitment to visual storytelling.” 

Adair first learned about the scholarship competition through a UNCSA Filmmaking student and alumni Facebook group that is focused on sharing news and opportunities with fellow Pickles. As an out-of-state student from South Carolina, Adair thought the competition would be a great opportunity that could help out with her school expenses. Adair submitted her resume, where she included extracurricular information about her time volunteering as both a peer mentor and a student ambassador for the School of Filmmaking, and a recommendation letter from Film Editing professor Michael Miller.

View Lolly Adair's Nikon Storytellers Scholarship reel


From Lolly Adair: My portfolio includes segments of projects I’ve worked on before and during the past two years I’ve been in the film school at UNCSA. The first clip is from “Dakota,” the second-year film I edited. “Dakota” is about a young woman trying to escape a fiasco with the cops after getting in a car accident in her ex-boyfriend’s stolen car. “The Right One” is a portion of my freshman directing project.

The documentary featured, “I Ride,” raises awareness for not only those who struggle with mental illness but who have overcome it. It focuses on Lloyd Hale, who has recovered from trauma due to his Schizophrenia. It was accepted into the Women and Minorities in Media International Film Festival in 2014 and is close to my heart. “Engram” is a film I made featuring my entire family. Those who are not on screen helped behind the scenes. Lastly, “Eleanor” is a collaborative parallel editing project from my freshman year at UNCSA.

Once selected to be a semi-finalist, Adair was asked to submit a video or photo that showcased the 2019 scholarship theme of “Capture Tomorrow,” which Nikon says was inspired by their “dedication to creating innovative products that empower creators to explore new ways of storytelling.” 

After reflecting upon the theme, Adair chose to focus on women in filmmaking and storytelling. Her submission of her second year film “Dakota,” a story about a woman leaving a toxic relationship, felt like the perfect fit because it had a predominantly female key crew and the film featured a female protagonist. 

The winners were selected by a panel of judges consisting of professional photographers, brand ambassadors and Nikon executives. The diverse panel reviewed all submissions, focusing both on storytelling and the visual quality of the work. 

still of fourth year film "Europa"

A still from "Europa," a fourth-year film that Adair assistant edited this year. “Europa” is a narrative film in which an adolescent vampire in the 1950s must attempt to suppress her thirst for blood if she is to have a normal relationship with her boyfriend. / Photo: Laura-Ellen Adair

Reflecting on her third year, Adair enjoyed the opportunity to assistant edit fourth-year narrative films “Standstill” (formerly "Mumble") and “Europa.” She was in the process of editing the trailers for the films when the COVID-19 pandemic necessitated the closing of campus and the move to online instruction for the remainder of the semester.

One of Adair's concerns was the ability to finish all of her work because AVID, the film editing software used by the department, is very expensive and most students are unable to cover the expense for their personal devices. Thankfully for her and other film editors, AVID made their software available for free online for 90 days to help those affected by the pandemic who were working from home, instead of on camups. 

Looking ahead to her last year at UNCSA, Adair, like many of her classmates, is unsure what to expect due to the ongoing response to the pandemic. She currently has plans to sound design two fourth-year films, one live-action and one that has both live-action and animation. No matter how the school year unfolds, Adair will continue to find new ways to tell stories that need to be told and use her talent to truly 'capture tomorrow.'

by Melissa Upton

Get the best news, performance and alumni stories from UNCSA.

June 9, 2020