The Poe Film Festival is an annual college film competition. Held in Richmond, Virginia, during the cool days of early November, it showcases a plethora of stories told via the medium of film.
Amidst the cinematic excitement and flurry of the festival, on Saturday, November 4, a student and alumni from Regent University School of Communication and the Arts (SCA) shone bright and received the two highest awards.
SCA student Jarrod Anderson ’20 received Best Picture for his film, “Changing Jane,” and SCA alumni W. Adam Burdeshaw’s ’15 and Nathanael Dunn ’17 received Best Screenplay for their film, “Until Death Do Us Part.”
“Film festival involvement is essential to Regent University’s engagement of the film industry and film professionals,” said College of Arts & Sciences (CAS) professor Vincent Williams. He credited the achievement to hard work on behalf of both students and faculty.
Although films in the competition were generally dark in theme and nature, Williams said the themes present in those of Regent stood in “stark contrast.”
“The message of redemption … caused a more hopeful, inspirational atmosphere but also invoked thoughtful questions from a mostly secular audience,” he said.
“Subtlety is key. It’s important that we share our faith, that we share redemptive messages, but subtlety goes a long ways,” said Anderson, who is currently pursuing an MFA in directing. “I think we can be honest with our faith and share those messages in a way that is palatable to people who may not believe the same.”
“Changing Jane” is a story about what someone would do if they could steer their past selves away from a bad choice, and whether that past version would heed the warning.
Anderson said he was inspired to create a story with a simple, yet potent plot after a time of worship with some friends.
“I think it’s refreshing … to tell stories that are encouraging,” he added. “I had several people come up to me at the end of the festival telling me how much the film spoke to them … and emotionally touched them. That was very rewarding.”
Adam Burdeshaw, co-winner of Best Screenplay and writer of “Until Death Do Us Part,” said creating an environment where feedback could be given and implemented in the creative process was instrumental for his film’s success.
Although his film was originally a drama, Burdeshaw re-wrote it, after he received advice from a faculty member, as a moving comedy about a man trying to move on from tragedy and find love.
Burdeshaw graduated from SCA with an MFA in Script and Screenwriting. He said aspiring filmmakers should “be patient” and stay relentless while chasing their aspirations.
“Don’t be discouraged with the 19 ideas out of the 20 that are terrible,” he said. “You never know when someone may want to … make your movie. Don’t stop writing or producing.”