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‘Thurston’ Web TV Series from NOVA Nominated for Awards

The web television series “Thurston,” which features the work of producers and actors from Northern Virginia Community College, has been nominated for four 2014 International Academy of Web Television (IAWTV) awards.

According to the official “Thurston” website, the show is a “Western drama about the residents of a remote mining town and their struggle for survival in the 1880’s Kansas Ozarks.”

“Thurston” was created by Kathryn O’Sullivan, a Manassas campus communication and theater studies instructor. Former NOVA faculty member Paul Awad is a co-executive producer with O’Sullivan. It began airing in 2011, according to O’Sullivan, who spoke with about being nominated for the awards:

The show began airing online in October 2011. Paul Awad (my husband and Co-Executive Producer/Director/Cinematographer) and I had been hearing about web series from our students and started looking into this form of entertainment to be better informed for them. (Paul teaches at The Art Institute of Washington.)

Around the same time, we saw a special on the height of Westerns on television and thought it might be an interesting backdrop for a web series. A few weeks later we attended the Dramatists Guild national conference and heard Susan Miller (Anyone But Me) speak about web series and we decided to take the plunge and create a Western for the web.

Loudoun campus communication and theater studies instructor Lisa Nanni-Messegee and Loudoun campus student Garrett Brennan are actors on the show. Former NOVA faculty member Todd Messegee and several other NOVA students are also involved with “Thurston.”

I first heard about web series from my screenwriting students at NOVA. The cast/crew has many NOVA folks. Paul Awad (former NOVA adjunct professor) is Co-Executive Producer/Director/Cinematographer; Lisa Nanni-Messegee (current professor at the Loudoun campus) plays Jo Maxwell; Todd Messegee (current adjunct professor at NOVA) plays District Attorney Stewart and has served as assistant director; Garrett Brennan (current NOVA student) plays Owen Snead; Garry Westcott (former NOVA student) plays Marshal Perry Robinson; Bob Martin (former NOVA student) played Garrett Thurston; Peter Ponzini (former NOVA student) played the Bailiff and has crewed for the show; and Nick Barry (former NOVA student) has crewed for the show.

The show is nominated for best dramatic series (O’Sullivan and Awad), best directing (Awad), best cinematography (Awad) and best male performance in a drama.

We just finished season two and are on hiatus. Season two ended with Maggie having her baby and confessing to the Marshal; Agnes Snead abducting her youngest son and forcing Rosie, her former soiled dove/employee, to marry her middle son; the arrival of the charming rogue Edmund Snead; and the introduction of Benjamin and Inolah Walkingstick, Cherokee brother and sister.

Season three promises to reveal the fallout of these events and some reunions. We’ve been incredibly grateful for the recognition that our show has received. The show, crew and actors have won nine awards and been nominated for several more.

The series has primarily been filmed in Virginia and in Maryland. Filming locations in Virginia include Brentsville Courthouse Historic Centre in Bristow, Spotsylvania County Historic Courthouse in Spotsylvania, and Wytheville.

The 2014 IAWTV Awards will be live-streamed online on Tuesday, Jan. 7 at 9 p.m. The ceremony will be held at the Rio All-Suites Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.

According to the IAWTV, nominees will be voted on by the digital entertainment professionals who comprise the IAWTV membership.

O’Sullivan, Awad and Nanni-Messegee plan on attending the ceremony.

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