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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Film student Tyler Vertrees is rising start in humanities

    Brittan Bates
    Brittan Bates / The Daily Wildcat Junior film major, Tyler Vertrees writes by Old Main’s Fountain in Tucson, Ariz. on Nov. 17, 2014. Tyler commonly comes to these benches to study.

    Tyler Vertrees knew from a young age what he wanted to do with his life: Tell stories.

    As a high school student in Bisbee, Ariz., the UA student discovered that the format of radio could challenge his storytelling abilities. Depending on words instead of visuals, Vertrees produced a number of programming specials for KBRP Commnity Radio.

    The Arizona Humanities Council has recognized Vertrees’ contributions to the community by bestowing its annual Humanities Rising Star award to him on Thursday at the Cutler-Plotkin Jewish Heritage Center in Phoenix.

    “[The award] symbolizes not only the hard work I’ve done in the past, but how far I’m willing to go in this field,” said Vertrees, a junior studying film and television.

    The Humanities Rising Star award is given to students and young professionals who find innovative, creative ways of communicating humanities topics with the public. Vertrees is the second person to receive the annual award for up-and-coming scholars.

    According to Julie Gavin, the assistant executive director of the Arizona Humanities Council, Vertrees was chosen in part because of his extensive involvement with The Copper Chronicle, a KBRP radio program archiving narratives about Bisbee history.

    “[Vertrees’] was engaged at all levels with that project,” Gavin said. “… Our awards committee was impressed.”

    Since leaving Bisbee to attend the UA, Vertrees has routinely returned to help high school students produce historical documentaries for KBRP.

    “There is a lot we can relate with each other through our history,” Vertrees said on the purposes of studying humanities topics.
    Vertrees used his interest in history to research the classic tropes of 1940s film noir for his radio drama titled “Fallen Angels.” 

    Taking place in 1920s Los Angeles, Vertrees’ whodunit story earned him the 2014 Best Radio Drama award from the Intercollegiate Broadcasting System.

    Vertrees said he enjoys the challenge of switching formats when writing radio, film and literary prose. The film student tries to write something everyday. On days when Vertrees has trouble putting words on the page, he resorts to isolating himself in his room and rejuvenates his creative juices with lots of caffeine. 

    Though he puts a lot of himself into his stories, Vertrees said his writing is still influenced by studying art and world history.

    “Taking philosophies from different countries has opened me up to a new world,” Vertrees said. An avid admirer of David Lynch and Charlie Kaufman, Vertrees added that he likes experimenting with his writing projects.

    Despite his commitment for the art of storytelling, Vertrees said he was genuinely surprised when his mentor, Ryan Bruce, nominated him for the Humanities Rising Star award.  

    “Tyler is extremely deserving of this recognition,” said Bruce, the KBRP station director. “He is one of those rare people who understands how to take what he is learning and immediately apply it successfully.”

    Vertrees credits Bruce with helping him to grow as an artist. At first timid about unveiling his writing to the public, Vertrees said Bruce encouraged him to be unafraid about sharing his personal thoughts and ideas with other people.

    Upon graduating from the UA next year, Vertrees plans to move to Los Angeles and attempt to acheive his dream of becoming a film or television writer.

    Follow Kevin C. Reagan on Twitter.

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