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TCU 360

TCU 360

All TCU. All the time.

TCU 360

Delaney Vega, a TCU journalism junior, is painting a school in Belize. (Courtesy of Teja Sieber)
“The week of joy”: Christ Chapel College’s annual trip to Belize
By Ella Schamberger, Staff Writer
Published Apr 23, 2024
174 students, a record number, went on this year's trip.

Film, Television, and Digital Media department premieres new film, “Underdawgs”

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“Underdawgs” film poster displaying the premiere in the BLUU Auditorium on Monday, Jan 29. (Alexandra Smith/Staff Photographer)

TCU film students produced a documentary featuring a mother and her son, who has persevered through life with Down syndrome.

The students in Charity Robinson’s documentary production class produced Underdawgs, the story of Austin Underwood and his mother Jan Underwood, who operates the food truck, Austin’s Underdawgs, a local Down Syndrome advocate. 

“The doctors at the hospital asked us if we wanted to take him home, of course, we wanted to take him home, we were going to take him home and give him every opportunity we could,” Jan Underwood said.  

Austin was raised with the same expectations as his siblings and like them, Austin wanted to attend college. His mother found a college that would fit his needs: the Special Services Occupational Training Program at Eastern New Mexico University, a vocational college that enabled Austin to learn chef preparation skills to pursue his dreams of opening his own restaurant.  

This dream would prevail as Jan awoke one night at 3 a.m.

“It just hit me, Underdawgs, we were going to do it, we were going to open a hot dog truck,”  she said.

The food truck would serve custom made-to-order hot dogs.  

Monday, Jan. 29, “Underdawgs” premiered in the auditorium of the Brown-Lupton University Union. 

The 25-minute film played to a full house. After the viewing, the Underwood family and the student-led production crew answered audience questions. 

Although Robinson chose the topic, the students were responsible for the production’s creativity.  

“It was such a joy and honor to get to know Austin and his family, we had the creative angle to display how beautifully Austin fights the stereotypes of people with intellectual disabilities,” Noelle Siwek, the student producer, said. 

For some of the crew, this was their first time working with someone with intellectual disabilities.  

“I did not have any experience with anyone who had intellectual disabilities, but getting to work with Austin and his family to promote accessibility and equality was amazing,” Director Brie Kirsch said.  

David Campisi, who has been Austin’s boss for over 10 years at the Fort Worth Italian restaurant, Campisi’s. He came on stage to present Austin with a $2,000 check for his hard work and dedication to the restaurant. 

The Underwood family and the student-led production crew panel discussion in the auditorium of the Brown-Lupton University Union on Monday, Jan. 29. (Alexandra Smith/Staff Photographer) 

“Austin makes us all better emotionally,” Campisi said. “Austin has been a true love to our company, he is a friend and a brother to me.”  

The film took the entire semester to complete.

“I worked almost every single day, multiple hours a day, it was tasking, but working on this film has been the highlight of my time at TCU,” Victoria Woodworth, a production student, said.  

The panel discussion finished by engaging the community on how they can help to empower individuals with intellectual disabilities. Following its premiere, the “Underdawgs” film will be submitted to film festivals around the country.  

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