Verna Fields Award and Ethel Crutcher Scholarship

Photo of Manny Holihan
Manny Holihan from the Australian Film, TV and Radio School, winner of the 2003 Verna Fields Award & Ethel Crutcher Scholarship for his sound work on the student film TERATOMA

As part of our commitment to educating the public on movie sound, the Motion Picture Sound Editors sponsors the annual Verna Fields Award for Student Sound Editing, which recognizes high-quality and imaginative sound editing in student film and video projects. 

We encourage students who are proud of their work to enter their projects into competition for the Verna Fields Award. All entries must be submitted on NTSC DVD or NTSC VHS. The sound editing crews from nominated student projects will be invited to attend the Golden Reel Awards Ceremony in Los Angeles, California. While the MPSE will provide show tickets for the student nominees, transportation and lodging are the responsibility of the student and/or school. The winning sound editors will be announced during the evening and presented the Verna Fields Award for Student Sound Editing and the Ethel Crutcher Scholarship in the amount of $1,000.00.

In addition to the awards banquet, the MPSE also sponsors a screening of the nominated student films here in Los Angeles on the eve of the Golden Reels, providing a chance for the nominees from around the world to share both their experiences and accomplishments. See our News for more information about the screening.

This is an award for student sound editors, rather than for professional sound editors hired by the student filmmakers. We are interested in the total integration of filmmaking ideas: the creative use of sound effects, Foley, music, and/or dialogue.

George Lucas was our inaugural MPSE Filmmaker's Award. In his words, "sound is half of the movie-going experience." Movie sound is often manipulated to maintain an illusion: a beautifully acted scene will seem artificial if the dialogue "bumps" from cut to cut, and without sound effects, the most ingeniously animated sequence will be a mere comic strip. Movie sound does not refer to music alone. Do we hear doors, vehicles, footsteps, and other sound effects that will help involve the audience in the movie? Sound can be used creatively as a bridge between cuts, to add excitement to a car chase, to create an atmosphere, to enhance a character's memories, or in many other ways. In movies not bounded by realism, sound has limitless possibilities.  If you feel you have accomplished any of this, please consider submitting your project. For submission forms, please go to the Entry Forms page.

We are also aware that students may have technical questions and that there are limited resources for this information.  ("How do I cope with a microphone bump in the middle of a take, what is the best way to replace a line of dialogue, how do I make an explosion sound bigger?") We encourage students to e-mail us with their questions at Within our membership are the finest and most knowledgeable sound editors in the world, many of whom would be happy to provide advice to student filmmakers and sound editors.

The MPSE also offers a student category of membership in order to create a mentorship program with working sound professionals. Applications can be found on the Membership page. As sound technology continues to evolve, we will continue to support educational opportunities for those studying sound, as we are excited about what the future holds.

Emma Meaden of the National Film and Television School in London, winner of the Verna Fields Award for Sound Editing in a  Student Film for LLOYD IN THE CORNER

Adam Taylor of Associated Production Music presents Emma Meaden of the National Film and Television School in London with the 2004 Ethel Crutcher Scholarship for Sound Editing in a Student Film for her film LLOYD IN THE CORNER