Many Virginia Tech students might not have recognized the Academy Award producer for the Best Documentary Short last Sunday, Jeff Consiglio.
Consiglio is not only the editor of Inocente, a 40-minute film highlighting the struggles of a teenage artist on the San Diego streets, but also a 1983 Tech alumnus with a degree in communication.
“I could tell right away that he was a star," said Jerry Scheeler, TV video producer and director for University Relations. "He was creative, innovative, and produced outstanding work during his time here.”
Consiglio was originally an aerospace engineering major, but switched after becoming inspired by the arts. He was one of the first students to complete independent studies and internships under Scheeler, producing what Scheeler called “amazing films.”
“It all started with Jerry. He was one of those professors who was an immediate friend," Consiglio said. "I saw him as my mentor from the first film class I took.”
After graduating and making breaks in the exclusive world of film festivals, Consiglio found himself on stage 30 years later with an award-winning film crew — and an unlikely star.
“The story is about someone’s life, so I struggled long hours to make sure every scene was edited smoothly,” he said.
"Inocente" follows the story of a homeless and undocumented immigrant girl moving from city to city. Her dream to become a successful paint artist was noticed in an unlikely way when filmmakers discovered her while filming another movie.
“A small bit of extra footage became an idea, which became its own film. It almost never existed,” Consiglio said.
In fact, the movie’s existence is attributed greatly to Kickstarter donations. The documentary raised over $52,000, helping the crew produce and create a market for the film. It is the first Kickstarter-backed movie to win an Academy Award.
Consiglio’s concerns on Oscar night, however, were geared towards the movie’s true heroine.
“The whole experience wasn’t about us or the movie, it was about Inocente. I was proud of her and the acceptance speech,” he said. “I was just worried about her getting up the stage okay.”
It has been 10 years since Consiglio delivered a commencement speech to students in communication at Tech, but nothing could have prepared him for accepting an Academy Award.
"Standing in front of Jack Nicholson, along with the whole crowd, was one of the best moments," he said.
Consiglio has released another documentary since Inocente and is working on another in production.