ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – Out of hundreds of submissions from High School students all across the state, Jim Ned Senior Gabriel Pyenta won the 2023 Texas Environmental Excellence award for his short film. The film is based on the Alamo and serves as a reminder for Texans to give a second thought to polluting.
“When I submitted it, I was not thinking it would go anywhere. I was surprised when it even made it past the first round,” said Pyenta.
The Jim Ned senior won a $2,500 dollar scholarship as well as bragging rights over the rest of the state’s High schoolers at the May 17 Awards Banquet, held in Austin. Pyenta told KTAB/KRBC it was an experience like no other to see his work on the big screen at such a large event.
“They played my video, and it was in front of all these people, and they all laughed,” Pyenta recalled. “It felt like such like a- it felt like a purpose, and it was such a joy, and I was like, ‘this is really what I wanna do.'”
While this is his biggest award so far, this is not his first time behind a camera. Pyenta and his brothers upload to their YouTube Channel, GoJinn Studios, whenever creativity strikes.
“When we were younger, we would watch three stooges and stuff, and me and my brothers were like, ‘we wanna copy that,'” described Pyenta. “At a very young age, we got a camcorder, and we made the best videos ever… To a degree.”
The Pyenta brothers’ channel spans topics from overweight Spider-Man parodies to action thrillers. Although, this award winner said submitting to a statewide competition taught him a lot about the deadlines and pressures many filmmakers face in their early days.
“A lot of ideas get cut, but in the end it usually turns out pretty well,” Pyenta gave in.
Gabriel Pyenta has plans to attend McMurry University to study filmmaking but hopes to add to that degree with another subject in clutch. No matter what he does, he said he feels he’s found a calling as a storyteller.
KTAB/KRBC asked, “Is that a feeling you feel like chasing?”
“I think so, yeah, I wanna try to entertain people,” responded Pyenta. “Like, fill them with joy.”
Throughout the competition, Pyenta said much of the Abilene and Jim Ned communities have shown support. On familiar name thrown around was Jim Ned graduate Konner Frazier, another Big Country filmmaker KTAB/KRBC was able to cover. Pyenta even said Frazier was the one who inspired he and his brothers to enter larger competitions.