Some of Hollywood's biggest names got their start after winning Student Academy Awards as young filmmakers. This year, some of those industry figures came together to celebrate this year's winners and to reflect on how getting the prestigious award impacted their own successful careers.
The program is a national student film competition conducted by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the Academy Foundation. Each year over 500 college and university film students from all over the United States compete for awards and cash grants, with films being judged in four categories: Animation, Documentary, Narrative and Alternative. Film students from outside the U.S. are honored as well. For a list of this year's winners, click here.
"To have a student Academy Award on your resume certainly gave you a magnificent cachet, and helped open doors in the industry for sure," recalled Robert Zemeckis -- writer/producer/director responsible for movies including Back to the Future, Cast Away and Forrest Gump -- about his moment in the spotlight as a young award winner.
That sentiment was echoed by John Lasseter, director of a host of Hollywood blockbusters including Toy Story and Cars. "I've got two Academy Awards, I've got some Emmys, I've got a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame -- all these great prizes that I've won. But the two Student Academy Awards are two of the things I'm most proud of," said Lasseter. "Because they were the first things I won and they gave me confidence."