By Amanda Morad
August 21, 2015
Chris Nelson '06 in the role of David in As It Is in Heaven
It's the day every directing student dreams of: the release of his or her first feature film. For Regent University's School of Communication & the Arts alumnus Joshua Overbay '10, that day has come.
Overbay's psychological drama, As It Is in Heaven, debuted at the Kraine Theater in New York City and the Facets Cinematique in Chicago July 11-17, and will continue screening across the United States throughout the summer.
As It Is in Heaven follows the story of David, the newly appointed leader of a rural Kentucky religious sect as they count down the days to the end of the world. Chris Nelson '06, a member of Regent's inaugural MFA in Acting class, plays the ill-fated lead.
"While it's easy to vilify these leaders, filtering him or her through the lens of such past events like Waco and Jonestown, I sought to create a sympathetic portrayal of this leader," wrote Overbay in his production blog. "Each of these leaders began somewhere—totally human and flawed like all of us. My hope is that by showing the protagonist's humanity, viewers will recognize themselves in his journey."
Already, the film has been lauded for its deep tension, vivid characterizations and atmospheric cinematography.
"The placid setting can't disguise the tensions cracking beneath its surface," said The Wall Street Journal. The Hollywood Reporter called it "quietly compelling ... ominous" while The New York Times named it a "critic's pick," noting the film "cooks a surprising amount of tension from the barest minimum of ingredients." The film has also been reviewed by Chicago Sun-Times and on RogerEbert.com.
In addition to Overbay, three other Regent alumni helped helm the project—executive producer Christopher Free '11, director of photography Isaac Pletcher '10, and editor Lauren Nicolette '11 (College of Arts & Sciences).
The film was shot on a nano budget—crowd-funded through Kickstarter—in a mere 17 days with a team of university film students on crew.
"It's rare for students to have such an incredible opportunity to work on a film in the capacity that this film allowed," said Free. "The crew was primarily students from Asbury University (Wilmore, Ky.) where Josh previously taught, but then I was also able to utilize the footage to teach video editing courses at both Regent University and Old Dominion University (Norfolk, Va.).
"From the beginning, this film has provided a unique opportunity for many film students to do what they long to do: work on a feature film they can be proud of."
Overbay wrote the script alongside his wife, Ginny Lee, in 2011, and started production in 2012. The film received its world premiere at the Cinequest Film Festival in March.
See a full list of screenings and watch the trailer.