An emotional rollercoaster awaited any student who dared attend the 2023 Regent University Student Film Showcase. From thrilling hallways to dreamy sunsets, Regent students put their best work on display for an awed audience. The annual event occurred on Saturday, April 22, 2023 in the Dede Robertson Theatre. The program flow consisted of fourteen productions following a welcome from the event’s producers, beloved Professors Tillet and Sinclair. Refreshments were available before the show and provided a convenient distraction when a thunderstorm temporarily knocked out the theatre’s power.
Michael Beam (CAS ‘23) was involved in the making of several films at the showcase and shared his thoughts: “Making a film is such a collaborative effort that faces many challenges in all three stages of production. Working with your team to overcome these challenges and bring a film to completion is always something worth celebrating.”
The showcase opened with the comedy Espionage by Candlelight, which was nominated for the College Television Awards this year and written and directed by Jared Esteban (CAS ‘23). An impressive series of short films followed featuring work submitted by Marcus Carola, Jason Jacot, Michael Sincendiver, John Klaves, Melissa Howerton, Kenneth Williams, Kurt Smith, Micah Anthes, Sage Thomas, Jaron Weatherly, Leila Haddad, and Esteban. Swing dancing and sibling fights brought the screen to life. Until it went dark.
The power shortage came in the middle of An Explosion of Everyday Life, a documentary created by Sage Thomas (CAS’ 23) featuring the Norfolk Street Choir Project. The building quickly recovered, and the showcase smoothly resumed. Unfortunately, the documentary would not play past a particular point in the film. Although the audience was unable to witness the fullness of Thomas’s work, the NSCP shared their gratitude in an email. “There is so much dignity and respect here… it is an explosion of everyday life that makes the unseen, unheard, and overlooked relatable to any viewer…Your vision, your care, and your hard work are easily seen in your piece.” Thomas, who has been an integral part of student life during her time at Regent, stated, “My time in the film program has allowed me to explore and discover my passion for documentary filmmaking. This project with the NSCP was so meaningful to me because it’s the first time I’ve had the opportunity to practice ethical storytelling and advocacy for a cause through film.”
With power restored, the showcase carried on. A black-and-white thriller, German ice cream truck, love letter, horsemen statues, and dynamic discount store rounded out the productions. The films concluded with the long-awaited premiere of the Fall ‘22 Endowed Film Lift. Also written and directed by Jared Esteban, the film mesmerized the audience and was awarded Best Screenplay during the closing awards ceremony. Haddad, Thomas, Howerton, and Klaves also received awards for their work. The two superstar professors reappeared to announce the awards and give closing remarks.
Senior John Klaves reflected on what was witnessed, “I was blown away. Watching this year’s film showcase highlighted the growth and skill that each and every film student at Regent has experienced. I remember working with Jared, Leila, and many of the other students our freshman year with no clue of what we were doing. Jumping to now, to the films that were presented this weekend, there is nothing that can begin to describe how proud I am to work with such talented filmmakers.” The students also expressed gratitude to Professors Tillett and Sinclair for believing in them and pushing them to become their best.
After this astounding display of skillful filmmaking, students eagerly await next year’s annual showcase. The art of Regent students deserves to be shown and celebrated. If you are interested in learning more about Espionage by Candlelight or Lift, articles can be found on the Daily Runner’s website.