UVic’s Department of Writing can now add the words “award-winning” to the description of its acclaimed web series, Freshman’s Wharf. The 10-episode, student-created, online comedic show beat out four other entries to win Best Web Series award at the 12th annual Leo Awards on June 11.

The Freshman’s Wharf team at the 2011 Leo Awards

“In some ways, producing Freshman’s Wharf was painstakingly challenging,” says co-producer Julia Dillon-Davis. “We were a group of students trying to film a web series that required a sailboat, an airplane, a tandem bike and half-naked professors dancing around a bonfire. The success of the series is really just indicative of our collective desire to create art.”

Originally created as a class project, Freshman’s Wharf evolved into a for-credit directed studies Writing course with 10 episodes being created, performed and shot by a mix of UVic students and alumni. Written by Rachel Warden, and mentored by Writing associate professor Maureen Bradley and digital media staffer Daniel Hogg, Freshman’s Wharf offered a light-hearted look at first-year student life at UVic.

“It’s a perfect fusion of research and teaching, a creative production engaging with the next generation—and that’s exactly what we’re supposed to be doing,” says Bradley, an award-winning filmmaker herself. “Our goal is to create innovative new media that’s Vancouver Island-based, and to engage students in our research creation, so it really was perfect.”

“I’ve had more fun on Freshman’s Wharf than any other student initiative,” says Eliza Robertson, who played the female lead, and was recently shortlisted for the Journey Prize for an unrelated writing project. “That might be why none of us expected to win: we’ve all enjoyed the experience so much that any concrete success is just whipped cream and cherries on top.”

Writer Warden, as well as Bradley, Hogg, Dillon-Davis and Robertson, were all in attendance at the gala Leo event, which was hosted by award-winning humorist and CBC personality Bill Richardson at Vancouver’s Fairmont Hotel.

The Leo Awards are an annual project of the Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Foundation of British Columbia and celebrate excellence in artistic achievement in B.C.’s film and television industry.