The Life of Jaron Weatherly and a Jesus Revolution
Weatherly contributes to the success of the film, Jesus Revolution
The ink on Regent alum Jaron Weatherly’s bachelor’s degree is barely dry. As a member of the Class of 2022, Weatherly saw his new gig as an Administrative Assistant at Kingdom Story Company in Tennessee as a foot-in-the-door. He had no idea he’d soon find his footing on one of the studio’s newest ventures.
Cut to February 2023, Weatherly is living boldly for Christ, without compromise, in a culture that appears to run on temptation, power, and greed. However, Weatherly’s desire for uplift leads him to believe otherwise. In just five months, Weatherly has contributed to the success of a film that’s now playing in theaters nationwide. It’s called the Jesus Revolution—a true story of revival, rock and roll, and love.
The weekend that the Jesus Revolution dropped, I caught up with Weatherly and asked him about the lights, camera, and action of his life.
Who are you?
WEATHERLY: My name is Jaron Weatherly. My name means joy. So, I’ve really made that a driving force in my life. My relationship with Jesus is my source of joy and the most important thing in my life. I often say that my most important things are: 1.) Jesus 2.) My family and friends, and 3.) Movies and TV.
Tell me about your family.
WEATHERLY: My family is my rock. We (parents and three younger siblings) are a tight unit. We know one another so well, that the love we share is felt even while I live in an entirely different state. My Dad is a pastor, and my family has served in ministry our whole lives. I watched my parents engage with people and lead, not just from a spiritual place, but from a creative place. The first attribute God revealed about Himself in the Bible was being “creative.” So, I felt privileged to grow up in a household where that was embraced and celebrated.
How did you know that Regent University was supposed to be a part of your story?
WEATHERLY: I visited a college fair during my senior year in high school and discovered Regent. It was one of the few Christian universities that had a prominent film department. I chose to only apply to Regent and was accepted. That was my confirmation.
What did you study and how did the program shape who you are today?
WEATHERLY: I earned a B.A. in Cinema and Television. In high school, I knew the Lord had called me to work in film and television, but the entertainment industry is famously one of the most difficult to break into. Still, I believe the educational experiences and mentorship I received at Regent helped to broaden what I’d already taught myself due to my passion for my craft. At Regent, I learned to lead, spiritually and professionally. I led multiple film productions while in college. I was also a student worker in different departments. There, I learned how to serve and collaborate within a professional setting.
You graduated from Regent in May ’22 and landed a job pretty quickly, right?
WEATHERLY: I’ve been working as support staff at Kingdom Story Company for five months. It’s a faith-based production company in Nashville that handles films distributed by the Hollywood studio Lionsgate. Truth is, I joined Kingdom in October 2022, after close to a year and half of emails, Zoom meetings, and a week shadowing the company. I even sent the company’s president some chocolate-covered popcorn as a “thank you.” I started shortly after graduation, but getting the job took time. I never gave up on ‘following up.’ Persistence, patience, and prayer are what landed me where I am today!
You had the opportunity to gain some industry experience in connection with the newly released film, the Jesus Revolution. What was that like?
WEATHERLY: It was hard work, but exciting. I was in charge of coordinating travel for the Kingdom executives, cast, crew, and media teams to accommodate the Jesus Revolution press tours, as well as the premiere of the film. As support staff, I work on whatever the day calls for. Supporting the success of the Jesus Revolution was exciting. Especially, being a part of something so significant at only five months in.
Meanwhile, you are maturing your own film work. Tell me about your recent successes.
WEATHERLY: My Regent team and I just released “Jennie,” a fully hand-drawn 2D film about the true story of my great-grandmother’s last day in Italy before moving to America. This film was the first entirely student-run animated short produced at Regent on this scale. The film consisted of over 40 student creatives. Courtland Hodges, my co-director, is a once-in-a-generation leader. The film reached a wide audience in its limited release and is in negotiations with distributors and film festivals. I remain proud of the film I wrote, directed, and produced while at Regent called “Tapping Out,” which was released in late 2021. It was entirely student-run, with over 50 team members. More than 250 people attended the premiere. I will take any opportunity to show off the hard work of others.
How has the knowledge that you gained on your Regent journey helped you?
WEATHERLY: I take pride in the fact that I have a degree in Cinema and Television from Regent. While I will always seek to learn more. I love the fact that my education has awarded me the reality of knowing what I am talking about. I make informed decisions and provide context at work. Spiritually, my heart for Jesus has grown. While working in Regent’s Campus Ministries, I fostered relationships on a deep level and learned to lead by the Spirit. My relationship with Jesus expanded and changed who I am at my core. It made my transition from college to the real world a lot more seamless. Additionally, I’ve realized that while you are surrounded by a strong, spiritual community at Regent, you have to be very personal and one-on-one with Jesus in order to grow in your relationship. I really became who I am at Regent and the work that I put into my relationship with Jesus has grown as I’ve stepped out on my own.
What lasting connections have been pivotal to your Regent experience?
WEATHERLY: This is my favorite question, so far. One of the big takeaways from my time at Regent has been the people that I met along the way who have become an extension of my heart. Professors Mike Sinclair and Nathan Tillett were mentors and teachers who equipped and believed in me, even when I came to them with the biggest and wildest ideas! They saw who I was, who I could become, and championed me along the way. Probably, the most important connection that I formed was with my closest friend, Ben D’Oleo. Ben is the collaborator that I’d always prayed for. He edited and worked on the visual effects for almost all of my projects since 2019. If I am blessed to direct/produce a feature film, Ben is the first person I will call. I am also beyond thankful for Sage Thomas and John Klaves, people I have worked with for many years. Their creativity is inspiring. I am so grateful for these relationships.
What have you learned about yourself in recent years?
WEATHERLY: I have learned that I am nothing without others. I often send a picture of The Muppets to our team because in many ways this is who we are, a rag tag bunch of characters, all very different from one another, who have come together to bring others joy. Humility and a teachable spirit are the center of it all for me.
How do you bring your spiritual convictions to your profession in the private sector?
WEATHERLY: I love film and television, but that world can often have very different opinions from those with faith backgrounds. I have gotten a lot of comments in my past regarding why I would even bother stepping into a world like this. I always think, “Why wouldn’t I?” In the Bible, I read about Jonah, Moses, and Paul, and see stories of people who stepped into uncomfortable and broken places because they too were broken and found hope in the process. The private sector is not as scary as some people pitch it to be. In fact, it can often feel more authentic because you are encountering people who are just trying to figure it out. I mean, we all are. I have met some of the most amazing, godly people in the private sector and know of many who are high up in this industry who love Jesus with a passion.
If you could speak to someone considering Regent University, what would you say?
WEATHERLY: Be persistent and pray. God is writing your story with you. So, be involved and hear His calling on your life. If you feel strongly about a path, that has been confirmed by the Spirit, chase that path. I knew deep in my bones that this was what I was supposed to be doing. Do not doubt that, pursue it.
What scripture is your beacon of light as you walk out your calling?
“There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.” – 1 Corinthians 12:4-6
I love this scripture because it shows that God is deeply involved in everything we do and everything we are. This verse is always an encouragement because it makes me feel seen by my Heavenly Father.
WEATHERLY: I work full-time with Kingdom Story Company and love what I do and who I work with. I am blessed to work as the Administrative Assistant, as well as run the intern program! I’m just trusting the Lord for what’s next. After years of hard work and 300 job applications later, I feel safe and welcome as a creative professional. I am living in a solid place of contentment. I will continue my pursuits as a filmmaker and build new relationships. I am currently co-writing a feature film, overseeing post-production for a Victorian love story short film, prepping for a future music video, and developing an original documentary with Sage Thomas and an original streaming television series. I am even considering a second animated short. My dream project is to direct a movie musical, but that’s way in the future. Doesn’t hurt to start dreaming now! And there are always the ideas that I haven’t thought up yet…