With red carpet rolled out and fans lined up and waiting, stars from Regent University’s first feature film made their entrance to the premiere of In-Lawfully Yours Saturday. They paused to share their thoughts about watching the film with students who worked on the project, and community members who will recognize many of backdrops in the movie shot around the Hampton Roads area.
“We make great films, and they’re usually short films, but when you do a feature film, and it’s available commercially, that takes us to a whole new level,” said Dr. Mitch Land, dean of the School of Communication & The Arts (SCA) and executive producer of In Lawfully Yours. “More than 80 of our students have credits in this film, and it’s already propelled careers.”
Regent’s Founder, Chancellor and CEO, Dr. M.G. “Pat” Robertson greeted guests for the movie’s premiere in Regent University’s theater. Actor/producer Corbin Bernsen of Home Theater Films, Regent’s partner in producing the film, also took to the stage to introduce the film. Its vivacious acting, intentionally awkward moments, and family feel brought a unanimous warm reaction from the crowd.
Described as a “sweet, romantic comedy” by Eric Harrell, SCA associate professor who is featured in the film as Mr. Newford. In-Lawfully Yours is about brokenness and second chances. SCA Assistant Professor Sean Gaffney set out writing the film with the goal to make it distinct from other Christian films. There’s no direct gospel message. Instead, the story follows the journey of Jesse, a New York City girl on a mission to care for her recently widowed mother in-law after her husband cheats, leaves and divorces her.
Jesse’s first-time encounter with church and an unexpected romantic interest in the pastor, as well as the theme of hope and redemption was met with laughter and applause. The film deals with tough topics like divorce, scandal, betrayal, and small-church politics, but with well-timed levity and compelling insight.
“I am directed by powers greater than me to make films that have impact, affect people, bring people closer to Christ,” said Bernsen. He’s featured in the film as Father Grayson. “I just happened to find myself here. I was doing an interview with the 700 Club and said, ‘I’d like to make films here,’ and met Dr. Mitch Land, and two years later, we closed this chapter.”
Bernsen, Harrell, Gaffney, and stars Chelsey Crisp (Fresh Off the Boat), Joe Williamson (Grey’s Anatomy), and Philip Boyd (The Haves and the Have Nots) on stage after the film for Q&A.
The milestone of making a feature film is a vision realized for many SCA graduates seated in the audience. Many consider it to be a natural achievement for a school dedicated to changing the world through Christian leadership.
“I’m so proud of the university. This is a dream come true for the School of Communication, the MFA program, and for the entire university family. To have their first feature film is a huge accomplishment,” said George Thomas ’95 (SCA) senior international correspondent with CBN News. “I think, part of it is the collaboration with the real-life experience to bring Hollywood actors, those in New York and LA, to be a bridge between the professional world and the academic world is terrific.”
In Lawfully Yours is gaining traction on Netflix, and is available for sale at Walmart, Amazon and other sites. The film also stars Marilu Henner (Taxi), who will make her debut on the new season of ABC’s Dancing With the Stars, on Monday, Sept. 12.
Follow Regent on Facebook to see live red-carpet interviews with actors, directors and producers from the project.