Student Academy Awards

Jun 5

Meet Heather Burky

Heather Burky - Art Institute of Jacksonville - Documentary Winner


Heather Burky was thirty years old when she watched Oprah talk about controlling one’s destiny and following dreams.  Heather cried (possibly due to the hormones from giving birth to her youngest daughter just two months prior) and, with her baby in her arms, enrolled herself in the nearest film school.  Everyone in her life thought she was crazy but here she is - a Student Academy Award winner.

Art Institute of Jacksonville

The Art Institute of Jacksonville is a growing school.  When Heather started, there were only 30-40 students there.  Now there are over 100.  Before going to the Art Institute of Jacksonville, Heather knew nothing of cameras or lights or Mac computers or “Final Cut Pro”.  She busted her butt and absorbed as much knowledge as possible— not becoming an expert at any one thing, but able to do everything.  So she made the whole documentary herself (shooting, lighting, sound, editing, etc).  

"Lost Country"

Heather was planning a documentary on the Mariel boatlift of 1980 but her interview subjects weren’t available to meet.  Fortunately, her friend in Miami knew someone who was at the Bay of Pigs and had interesting stories.  So Heather took a trip to Miami and met with Julio, Max, and Eduardo, the men in her documentary.  They all hit it off and none realized how far this documentary would make it.  Afterwards, Heather was tired and overwhelmed from all the stories she heard in a few days.  She spent five months editing the footage, looking through archival footage, and searching for the right music.  She knew she found the right music when her daughter heard it and asked “Who’s the bad guy?”.

What’s Next?

Heather has several projects she is working on.  One is a feature comedy film and the others are documentaries, most related to Cuba.

Check out more from Heather Burky.

And check out a clip from “Lost Country.”