That is not just because Andrews drove across the country recently, piloting a Ford hybrid 3,300 miles as a member of the mtvU's College 500 reality show. It's because Andrews has known where he is going from the moment he first took up a video camera while a sophomore at Helena Capital High School.
"I kind of fell in love with it," Andrews said. "It's become a passion."
Since then, Andrews has kept his eye in the viewfinder and refined his ability to make short, witty videos that have already won him national recognition even though he's only in his second year of film school.
The most recent example of that recognition was his selection as one of six college students to appear in the inaugural of mtvU's College 500 show. While mtvU, which is affiliated with MTV and is geared to college-aged students, is not broadcast in Montana, it can be viewed online at www.mtvu.com. The College 500 can be accessed at: http://college500.mtvu.com/. It features many solo clips of Andrews.
The six students on the show were divided into two teams that competed with each other on challenges held at universities across the country. Those challenges included making a music video, a scavenger hunt and even giving away money at the UNLV bookstore. The teams' escapades were broadcast in six, five-minute shows. Unfortunately, Andrew's blue team didn't win the grand prize of $15,000, despite strong showings on the broadcasts. But Andrews, who was the only male on the blue team, the youngest contestant and the only contestant from the West, said the experience was both great fun and great exposure.
"I met a bunch of people, had a great road trip," Andrews said. "The whole experience was eye-opening."
mtvU producers say that even though he is located in Montana and far from any entertainment center, Andrews' abilities and personality make him stick out at an unusually young age.
"Nick had actually submitted his work to mtvU when he was in high school and our staff was so impressed with his level of work they encouraged him to stay with it until he was in college and eligible for the (Best Film on Campus) competition," Kate Mahoney, university relations manager for mtvU, wrote in an e-mail. "Once he enrolled at MSU, he re-entered the competition and worked his way to the top."
Last year Andrews became the first college freshman ever to make it to the top 25 in mtvU's Best Film on Campus contest with his humorous short, "My Hands Are Bananas." The film was featured on the mtvU Website, and can now be seen at http://www.bestfilmoncampus.com/filmmaker/default.aspx?filmmakerID=1256&filmID=1467
Andrews said that his success in the competition was the reason a College 500 casting director asked him to submit an audition tape for College 500 reality show. Andrews whipped up a tongue-in-cheek adventure short, which can be seen at http://www.bestfilmoncampus.com/filmmaker/default.aspx?filmmakerID=1256&filmID=1467. Andrews said he was shocked when producers called him this summer to say he had made the show.
"The filmmaker on the other team had already graduated from film school and had been out for a year making music videos," Andrews said. His selection also meant that he had to miss the first two weeks of the semester. Even though he was missing film classes to make and star in a TV series, Andrews had to make up all work missed.
"It was a couple of intense weeks back trying to catch up, but since I'm only taking film classes, it was the best thing I could ask for," Andrews said.
Andrews said the experience of being on the reality show was "a blast." Even though he has traveled a good deal, he had never been to the East Coast, and he loved being on a road trip. However, he said he had to admit that he felt great when his team drove into Colorado.
"I was back in the West," he said. "It felt like home."
While the experience of working on the TV and Web-based short was a great learning experience, Andrews continues to work toward his eventual goal of directing feature films, "And I'd like to make as many music videos as possible." Those goals brought him to MSU. Andrews said he and his father looked at film schools in California, particularly University of Southern California and University of California Los Angeles, but he decided to enroll at MSU, down the road from Helena, when he learned that MSU students begin to work with cameras immediately, as opposed to students at the California schools who must wait until they are upperclassmen..
"The film program here is so much fun," Andrews said. "It's a lot of work, don't get me wrong. There's so much work it's intense. But I'm having the best time here."
A lookalike for snow and skateboarder Shaun White, Andrews also snowboards, plays golf and Ultimate Frisbee in the summer and is a "huge" music fan, usually managing to combine those interests with filmmaking.
Andrews said he doesn't know what his next project will be, and if there is another contest that is a good fit for him, he may enter. In the meantime, he is likely to continue making his comic shorts.
"I just try to do things that I think are funny, and usually there is someone else out there that will think it's funny, too," he said. "At least, it's worked out so far."
Q&A with Nick Andrews
What's on your iPod?
I have, I bet, every kind of music on my iPod except country. I love it. Favorite song of the moment, Toto feat. Jay-Z "Africa Remix."
"Anchorman" or the "Royal Tenenbaums."
Film you wish you would have made?
"A Night at the Roxbury." It's the funniest thing.
Favorite class at MSU
Phil Savoie's cinematography class. He worked at the BBC and the "Planet Earth" series. He's so passionate about what he does and cares so much about students and wants to teach them about film that it's so refreshing."
To see more articles about MSU's Media and Theatre Arts Department and its students, go to:
Nick Andrews, firstname.lastname@example.org