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Darien Filmmaker Wins Big In National Sprite Competition

Darien native Dean Coots is the first filmmaker ever to win both the professionally-judged and fan-voted awards at the Sprite Films short film competition.
Darien native Dean Coots is the first filmmaker ever to win both the professionally-judged and fan-voted awards at the Sprite Films short film competition. Photo Credit: Sprite Films

DARIEN, Conn. – Darien native Dean Coots impressed both fans and judges in a national film contest.

Coots, a recent film school graduate from Elon University in North Carolina, won both the Green Ribbon Panel and Fan Favorite Awards at the 2013 Sprite Films short film competition. His entry, ‘Break the Night,” is the first film to win both awards in the 16-year history of the contest.

“I am so glad ‘Break the Night’ could reach, entertain and move so many people,” Coots said. “I am extraordinarily excited to continue my career with the opportunities these awards will undoubtedly bring.”

His short film features break dancers splattered in the trademark yellow and green colors of the popular soda.

Coot and the Elon University team beat out entries from Columbia College Chicago, Savannah College of Art and Design and University of California Los Angeles in the finals. The Elon group may have had a bit of a boost: They were advised by Elon professor Paul Castro, a who was a finalist in the competition’s first year in 1998.

“As a writer and director, Dean Coots is a rare talent and a humble warrior indeed,” Castro said. “His raw talent, coupled with our turbocharged Elon University student film crew, was nothing shy of miraculous.”

The contest’s Green Ribbon Panel Award was judged by a group of film industry professionals, based on the technical aspects of each film. For taking the Green Ribbon Panel Award, Coots earned a $30,000 contract job with Sprite and the Coca Cola Company.

The Fan Favorite Award was handed out based on the results of an online vote on the Sprite Films' website. For being the top vote-getter, Coots won a trip to the American Film Institute Film Festival in Los Angeles and a $5,000 donation to Elon.

“The Sprite Films program engages the next generation of creative minds with a rare opportunity to learn valuable on-set experience while providing a nationwide platform to express their authentic points-of-view,” Sprite Assistant Vice President Kimberly Paige said in a press release. “We recognize the need for programs that offer young filmmakers across the country with the chance to create a film masterpiece from beginning to end.”

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