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Two Chicago college students win chance to hand out Oscars

A.J. Young an aspiring young film maker will help hout Oscars Sunday Oscars presentatiHollywood. | For Sun-Times MediSarNevels~Talk Studios

A.J. Young, an aspiring young film maker will help hand out the Oscars at the Sunday Oscars presentation in Hollywood. | For Sun-Times Media, Sara Nevels~Talk Studios

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Updated: February 24, 2013 2:48PM



AJ Young might feel as if he wandered through a portal in a Sci-Fi flick when he finds himself tuxedo clad on stage at the Oscar awards Sunday night.

But the dreamworld segue from 23-year-old Columbia College film major with an apartment in Albany Park to Oscar night handler of “little gold men” will be a surreal reality for Young and five other college students.

The lucky group won a contest created by Oscar night host Seth “Family Guy” MacFarlane and Oscar producers who challenged the aspiring film makers to explain in 30-second videos how they plan to contribute to the future of movies.

The chosen six will swap shoes with the beautiful models who usually walk the statues on stage to give to presenters.

Young isn’t intimidated by his comely counterparts.

“I am a pretty attractive man so ... I think I can do that,” he said.

However, here’s a scenario he finds terrifying: “I trip on stage, drop the trophy, it breaks in half, and it’s for like Ben Affleck ... and he just looks at me dead the in eye and says, ‘Never come back to this town.’”

Or, at the rosier end of the dare-to-dream spectrum, maybe he picks the brains of a few great cinematographers, makes some connections and lines up an internship.

Young’s previous Oscar night experiences consist mostly of checking winners on his phone between carrying out duties as a movie theater manager in his hometown of Mesa, Ariz. As a kid, Young made stop-animation movies in which Lego men dubbed as WWF wrestlers. His current project is a zombie love story set in Chicago.

Young left Monday morning, along with DePaul University student Abe Diaz, another contest winner. They flew first class to Los Angeles and have been put up in a downtown hotel for the week as they tour studios and chat with industry folks.

“I just got fitted for a designer tuxedo,” said Young. “I hope they forget to ask for it back,” he half joked.

The “Oscar Experience College Search” was a joint project between the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the college network MTVu.

Diaz, an 18-year-old freshman from Duluth, Minn., planned to prepare a few talking points in case he crosses paths with film greats like Quentin Tarantino.

“I don’t want to freeze up,” said Diaz, who is curious to know how Tarantino succeeded without a traditional education in film, an inquiry with special meaning for Diaz, who is a chemistry major.

“Being in the film industry is sort of fantasy I guess, I don’t know how realistic it would be ... but, who knows,” said Diaz, who’s previous credits include a music video starring a friend named “Moose” and a short clip focused on the “dorky glasses” of another pal.

“I’ve always wanted to make something a little more serious, a short film or feature,” said Diaz. “Millennium Park or Buckingham Fountain would be cool locations to film.”



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