Busby finalist in Safety Scholars video contest

Katherine Martin

Selected from a field of 1,300 applicants, Henry Busby, a junior double majoring in film and American studies, is a top ten finalist in Bridgestone Americans Annual Safety Scholars Teen Driving Video Contest.

“I was very happy to hear I made the finals,” Busby said. “I didn’t enter the competition with a lot of expectations about what would happen. I didn’t really know if I would ever hear back, so when Bridgestone called it was a nice surprise.”

The video contest was developed in 2007 as a national extension of Bridgestone America’s youth auto safety education initiatives, Courtney Eller, spokeswoman for Bridgestone America, said.

“Safety is everybody’s business,” Eller said, “and we are committed to making a difference for all of us.”

Busby said he originally heard about the contest in March from his telecommunications and film professor Adam Schwartz, but filmed the video this summer.

“I encouraged Henry to participate because video-making contests like these are a good way for students to stretch their filmmaking and creative legs,” Schwartz said. “Any opportunity to practice the craft whether in class or out of class is a good experience and we try to encourage all students to create as much as possible.”

Busby said the biggest message in his video, “Tales from the Junkyard,” is for teens to drive safer and reevaluate their habits behind the wheel.

“The video covers a lot of distracting habits that I used to do while driving,” Busby said. “I’m not perfect now, but I definitely think more about them before I do them. I think that little pause to think before you do something dangerous behind the wheel is what can save lives.”

The contest was open to college students ages 16 through 21, the age bracket where auto accidents claim more lives than any other cause, Eller said.

“We hope these videos can help change these statistics,” Eller said.

Students were required to submit an original video 25 to 55 seconds in length that covered one or more issues or topics relating to automobile safety, according to a Bridgestone press release.

Judges selected the top ten finalists based on how well the video compelled viewers to be more safety-conscious drivers and how effectively and creatively the message was communicated, the press release stated.

“The passion and creativity in these videos is so incredible that it makes the judges’ decisions very difficult,” said Angela Patterson, digital media coordinator, Community and Corporate Relations, Bridgestone Americas, who also manages the company’s teen driver initiatives.

Busby said the idea for his video came from visiting a junkyard.

“When I got there, I just wandered around for a few hours and tried to find images that told stories to me,” Busby said. “After I had been filming for a while, the idea started to emerge.”

Busby said he wanted to do something different from the other videos by keeping his video simple.

“I didn’t want to go over the top or do something really in your face,” Busby said. “I think the simpler the concept, the more room you leave to make an impact.”

Busby’s video is the only one from Alabama to ever make the finals, Busby said. It is also the only video representing the Southeast this year.

“It’s great to see one of our own representing the entire Southeast in a nation-wide contest,” Schwartz said. “Henry is a strong student, a motivated filmmaker and a hard worker, so I can’t say I was surprised to hear he did so well, but I am very happy for him and strongly encourage everyone out there to vote for his video.”

Three winners will be announced Aug. 17. Winners will receive a $5,000 scholarship, a set of Bridgestone brand tires and the opportunity to have their video used as a public service announcement on television stations across the country, according to the press release.

“It’s an effective juxtaposition of text with images from the junkyard,” Schwartz said. “As a PSA, I think it hits the mark spot on. It’s also very relatable — the ‘voices’ in the piece could be you, or something you may have said. In the end it just works.”

Last year’s Safety Scholars PSAs have aired more than 13,000 times and reached an audience of more than 52 million viewers, according to the press release.

“I think that [winning] would be huge for me and the entire University to spread a good message and be represented nationally,” Busby said. “The film department here is really making some huge strides and they’ll be making even bigger waves this year.”

Eller said Bridgestone America hopes by winning the contest the scholarship will enable students to continue in their education and encourage them to get the message out about being safe behind the wheel.

To vote for Busby’s video, go to www.safetyscholars.com and click the link “vote for your favorite video now.” Then scroll down to find his name. Voting closes Aug. 5 at 11:59 p.m.

“There’s a limit of one vote per email, but use different emails if you have them,” Busby said. “Please continue passing the word.”