Action: Contest Entries Lead to Career Options
Sawyer Frye is a man with a plan.
Recent stardom came when he won the McDonald’s Legend of the McRib video contest. Frye has also won a video contest for the restaurant chain Zaxby’s, as well as a jingle contest for Mellow Mushroom, another restaurant chain, which recently opened a restaurant in Southern Pines. Most recently, he filmed his first local commercial and a music video.
Frye has a lot more ideas up his sleeve — ideas that he believes could take him all the way to Hollywood. Not bad for a self-taught 23-year-old who participated in his first contest a year ago.
“The inspiration really is that I have a lot of vision,” Frye says, “visions for plans. It’s very organized all in my head but not on paper for me much. I just have to get it out there.”
Frye, the son of Sammy and Sandra Frye, grew up in Carthage. He graduated from Grace Christian School, in Sanford. Frye went on to study at Appalachian Bible College with the intention of doing inner-city Bible work. After winning his first video contest, he decided to follow his passion instead.
“I would say his passion is enjoying making people smile and laugh,” says Tyler Williamson, Frye’s friend. “Being able to take an ordinary situation and take it and bring a smile to a person’s day — that’s just him.”
Williamson helped Frye with his first success in film through the Zaxby’s contest. The restaurant sought “Zaxby’s Greatest Fanatic.” The one-minute, “goofy” video features Frye undergoing various tasks to prove that he is Zaxby’s biggest fan. Though small, the contest put things in perspective for Frye. He soon began seeking out other suitable contests.
“That’s what opened the door for me as far as seeing the big picture,” Frye says.
With his prize money, Frye upgraded from the camera he had used as a teenager to new equipment for filming the McDonald’s commercial. The video features Frye searching for the last McRib after the recipe disappeared. Frye’s video netted him $10,000 and a trip to Germany. He plans to go at the end of June.
Frye admits that winning the McDonald’s contest probably opened doors for him.
Matthews Insurance and Financial Services, of Southern Pines, hired him to film a commercial for the company.
C.W. Matthews describes the experience as very positive.
“He’s got some good ideas,” Matthews says. “I would definitely do it again.”
Frye believes that the commercial is just one step toward Hollywood.
“It’s a really good thing for starting what I’m doing too, freelancing and filmmaking,” Frye says. “It (the commercial) was a really good way to get my work out there, and that was really cool, a good experience.”
Although his film talents have been lucrative, Frye says that he loves music even more. The Mellow Mushroom “Create Your Own Mellowdy” jingle contest allowed him to express this interest as well as his video skills.
“That one just fit him like a glove,” Williamson says.
Frye won tickets to Lollapalooza, a three-day music festival in Chicago. Frye flies to Illinois for winning the jingle contest soon after returning from Germany. The Mellow Mushroom video features Frye singing a song about how “life is good with a mellow kind of vibe.”
Frye’s family and friends support his goals. His biggest fan, his grandmother, Joan Frye, believes he can succeed and takes pride in his accomplishments.
“I think he’s done a remarkable job, and that he’s very talented and very dedicated to that talent,” she says. “It’s not something he would do on just a whim. He would be very detailed.”
Outside of winning contests, Frye works as a freelance photographer to support himself. He enjoys writing and performing music in addition to film work. He hopes that he can tie music into a career with film work. Although he is starting small, Hollywood is calling.
“I don’t know about soon,” Frye says, “but I do plan on eventually making a move out to California. I love the South so it’s kind of hard to leave.”
Frye searches for new contests and opportunities to build his repertoire on Google. He believes that each experience will prepare him for a future in film. He plans to shoot short films and eventually full-length features.
“When I’m ready to go, I’ll know everything the pros know,” says Frye. “I’m getting close to that point — I’m just not quite there yet, and when I’m there, I’ll be ready to go anywhere.”
Summer Hennings is a rising sophomore at UNC-Chapel Hill and is a summer intern at The Pilot.
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