Hamilton Film Wins International Awards

CHATHAM, NJ – June 26, 2013 – Tribe Pictures’ production “Hamilton: The First 200 Years” has won a total of four awards including: Platinum Best of Show at the 2012 Aurora Awards Competition for Fund Raising; a Gold Camera from the U.S. International Film & Video Festival for Public Relations; Silver at the Questar Awards in its Non-Profit Organization/Education category; and the Award of Excellence from the Accolade Competition in its College/ University/ Government category.

Mike Debraggio, Assistant Vice President of Communications at Hamilton College, led the project as part of the college’s observance of its bicentennial. Hamilton wanted the film to reconnect alumni and friends with the institution’s distinctive characteristics, purpose, and history. “The film did exactly what we hoped it would: celebrate 200 years of history without being a history film. It was emotional, but not overly sentimental, and it captured Hamilton’s essence then and now…Tribe delivered, even exceeded, what it promised,” said Debraggio.

Vern Oakley, Tribe Pictures’ founder and Executive Creative Director guided and produced the project. “We listened to the college community to understand the culture and hear the stories that are often repeated. We then imagined ways to spark the emotion among the Hamilton tribe,” said Oakley.

The film established this emotional connection by drawing on Hamilton’s strong commitment to writing. Each year, an alumnus from the 50th year reunion class writes a letter to his classmates that reflects on their time at the college a half century earlier and is delivered during Reunions at the annual meeting of the Alumni Association.  The film showcased this tradition by capturing current students reading the so-called Half-Century Annalist Letters, highlighting Hamilton’s commitment to honoring its past, while also cultivating its future. The film premiered at the kickoff of Hamilton’s 200th Anniversary Celebration in September 2011, and was part of its fundraising campaign. More than 700 faculty, students, and alumni saw the premiere.

Dick Tantillo, Hamilton’s Vice President of Communications and Development, believed the film kicked off the celebration with a bang.  “We just had maybe among the most magical moments in our college history, largely due to this incredible film produced by Tribe. It was everything we wanted; emotional, erudite, crisp.  We could not be happier,” said Tantillo.

The film speaks to the alumni and donor population through a mix of scenic nature shots, interviews with notable alums and professors, and readings by students that quote the Half Century Annalist Letters. The film is shown at special occasions and at Admission Open Houses to provoke and engage prospective students with Hamilton’s legacy.

Shot throughout winter, spring, and Commencement, the crew used a variety of cutting edge film techniques, including time lapse and a remote control helicopter to capture aerial shots of the campus. Through this dynamic way of storytelling, Tribe was able to capture the essence of the Hamilton experience.

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“It’s one thing to understand the role of video in business communication, it’s another to know how to use video to solve actual business problems. Vern Oakley gets that.”


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